Swanson River Road leads north from the Sterling Highway to what Alaska magazine calls “a world-class canoe trail system.” Located within the David Spencer Wilderness Unit of Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the system consists of 2 canoe trails: the 60-mile Swan Lake route, connecting 30 lakes; and the 80-mile Swanson River route, linking 40 lakes. Trips can range anywhere from 1 to 7 days. Swanson River has a few more long portages than Swan Lake, but both are well worth a side trip.

Swanson River Road connects canoeists with the Swanson River route at 2 places: Swanson River Landing, 17.5 miles north of the Sterling Highway, and Paddle Lake at Mile 12 Swan Lake Road, entrance to the Swan Lake canoe trail.

Photo by Michael K. Robb.

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