This quiet lake at the confluence of Knik and Matanuska Rivers offers stunning views, and an easy 1 mile walk around the lake to the slough. The lakeside path through birch, cottonwood and alder host many songbirds for enjoyment spring through summer. Trumpeter swans, canvasbacks, Canadian geese, golden eyes, as well as other waterfowl and shorebirds can usually be seen during spring migration in April and May. Canada geese, shorebirds and Pacific Loons have been known to nest in summer. Wildflowers are abundant in June. Summer and autumn mountain and sky reflections are spectacular on the lake. Winter skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating offer the Alaskan winter wonderland enjoyment.
Mile 30 on Glenn Highway at Knik River Access Exit
Park at the maintenance road for a short walk directly to the lake. The lakeside trail goes between the lake and the river.
This trail is handicapped accessible, and is ADA compliant. The lower level of the tower is also ADA compliant. Our hope is that this trail and tower can be enjoyed by people of all activity levels. Contact Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats at email@example.com for more information or to help with these improvements.
Wide open spaces of this flat, easy trail bring to full awareness the vast expanse of this 20,000 acre Refuge. Wetland ponds and the upper reaches of the Knik Arm estuarial waters bring thousands of migrating birds through on the Pacific Flyway. April and May offer opportunities to view flocks of Trumpeter Swans and Snow Geese. Sandhill cranes, Canada geese and gulls arrive here to establish their summer nesting grounds. A summer weekend fishery is popular for this anadromous salmon stream.
Parks Hwy about 2 miles from Glenn Highway exchange, to Fairview Loop then onto Hayfield Road to Refuge access sign
Drive to the lower parking lot and venture across the Cottonwood Creek bridge. Wear high boots or waders and be mindful of tides (add 45 minutes to 1 hour to the Anchorage tides).
Trail and trailhead enhancements are ongoing. Contact Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to help with these improvements.
The woodland bluff above Cottonwood Creek is a great place to enjoy a quiet walk in the woods. The trail is an easy 1.25 mile loop under a birch and cottonwood canopy. Circling along the bluff, through woods above Cottonwood Creek as it drops precipitously to the wetlands expanse of the Refuge, it also passes by a picturesque small lake. As you proceed along the bluff, you will be passing through the ancient remains of significant Athabaskan settlement. Late evening walks along this woodland trail will likely bring hooting great gray owls in springtime. A bonus for this recently improved trail is the new Scouts Ridge Overlook. Partly, sheltered, with resting bench and a spectacular view to savor the vast, stunning beauty of this Refuge awaits all who would linger. This is a great place to imagine open hay fields, grazing cattle, sheep and horses in Colony Days prior to the 1964 earthquake.
Parks Hwy about 2 miles from Glenn Highway exchange, to Fairview Loop then onto Hayfield Road to Refuge access sign - At Cottonwood Creek Access
The trail begins at the kiosk on the edge of the upper parking lot.
Spring, summer and autumn waterway access to remote Refuge wetlands and the upper reaches of Kink Arm is via this trail head. Recreational opportunities include fishing in summer and waterfowl hunting in autumn. When winter conditions are right, this is a popular winter ice biking and skating trail.