Lake Clark National Park
Located: Alaska - Established: December 2, 1980
The Park: Like many of Alaska’s National Parks, Lake Clark is predominantly an untouched wilderness. Within the park, you will find two active volcanoes, glaciers carving new valleys, rivers teeming with salmon, impressive waterfalls, lovely lakes, a plethora of wildlife and Dick Proenneke’s historic cabin.
Getting there: There are no roads leading into Lake Clark; however, visiting Lake Clark is definitely easier than accessing either Kobuk Valley or Gates! Accessing this vast wilderness is done either by air or by sea across the Cook Inlet. Two gravel runways in Port Alsworth provide access for visitors arriving by air.
When to go: The park is open all year; however, summers offer visitors the best opportunity for decent weather. Lake Clark will begin to freeze over in November and won’t thaw out until some time in April.
What to do: Wildlife viewing is very popular at this park as the brown bear population is plentiful. The grizzlies tend to congregate along the Cook Inlet coast in the Chitnita Bay, Crescent Lake and Silver Salmon Creek areas.
There are very few maintained hiking trails within the park boundaries; however, the Tanalian Trail system located adjacent to Port Alsworth offers day hikers an exceptional opportunity to get into the backcountry.
The trailhead, located just outside the airstrips of Port Alsworth, offers hikers two choices: Take either the Beaver Pond Loop or the Falls and Lake Trail to the junction where you decide to continue north up the Tanalian Mountain Trail to the 3900’ summit or to trek the Lake Trail past the Tanalian Falls to Kontrashibuna Lake.
Rustic Cabin Tour. Having read about Dick Proenneke’s Cabin, one of Alaska’s foremost wilderness icons, we felt compelled to pay this landmark a visit. There are two ways to reach Dick’s Cabin – hike 30 miles across the rugged and trail-less mountain terrain from Port Alsworth or take a floatplane to Twin Lakes.
We opted for the latter. Weather was an issue and it took us three attempts to finally touch down on Twin Lakes where this landmark is located. High winds cancelled our first attempt. Foggy conditions affected the next. After touring the Cabin, take the short hike up to Teetering Rock and experience the breathtaking view of Twin Lakes and the surrounding mountains.
Other popular activities at Lake Clark include fishing, hunting, kayaking, rafting, bird watching and fat tire biking.
Where to stay: Lake Clark offers a wide variety of lodging options from rustic cabins to all-inclusive lodges offering guided tours into the wilderness. Many of these lodges are found in Port Alsworth. We were delighted with our visit to The Farm owned and operated by the Alsworth family.
All camping in Lake Clark is primitive. There are no facilities or designated campsites. You are free to roam about as you see fit! Proper preparation is required for wilderness camping, as you will be sleeping amongst the wildlife, which includes brown and black bears!
Wildlife: At the top of the food chain, Lake Clark is home to a large population of brown and black bears. Although the bear population is found thriving throughout the park, the coastal Cook Inlet region is where the bear viewing is best.
Memorable moment: Our cabin at the Farm and the friendly staff who enhanced our visitor experience.
Banner: Teetering Rock above Proenneke’s Cabin.
Experience these Check List:
- Visitor Center in Port Alsworth, AK (not in the park)
- Take a Flightseeing Tour
- Visit the Proenneke Cabin
- Hike the Tanalian Falls Trail
- Observe grizzlies along the Cook Inlet