Chugach State Park
Eklutna Lake Campground has 50 campsites, water, latrines, picnic tables, and fire pits. Camping fees are posted, and camping is allowed for 15 consecutive nights. An annual state park campground pass may be purchased at state park offices or from rangers.
Interpretive displays and a telescope for viewing wildlife and lake activities are located near the trailhead parking area. There is a picnic shelter for group activities in the day-use area. A large group picnic and camping area may be reserved by calling the Chugach State Park Headquarters. Facilities are accessible to those experiencing physical disabilities.
For backcountry camping with some conveniences, there are three remote campgrounds along the Lakeside Trail: Eklutna Alex Campground at mile 8.8, Kanchee (porcupine in the Athapaskan) at mile 11, and Cottonwood at mile 12. These can be reached by foot, bicycle, ATV, horseback, or snowmachine. There are toilets in each campground and a picnic table and fire ring at each campsite. There is no fee for staying in these campgrounds. Motorized vehicles are not allowed in the Cottonwood Campground.
The Eklutna Glacier carved this valley as it retreated, leaving horizontal scarring on the rock formations as evidence of its passage. Glacial and freshwater streams flowing into the valley created the 7-mile long lake.
The lake is an excellent place to canoe, kayak, fish, wind surf, sail, and motorboat. However, the weather can change rapidly in this valley, bringing sudden high winds, especially in the afternoon. Watch the weather closely and always wear a personal floatation device when boating.
Boats must be carried by hand from the parking lot to the lake, a distance of up to several hundred feet depending on the level of the lake. It is high in the fall, but as much as 40 feet lower in the spring. Very little water enters the lake during the cold winter months but it fills rapidly in the summer with rain, snow, and glacial melt.
The best fishing spots are at the spillway near the south side of the picnic areas, and where the Twin Peaks, Yuditnu, Bold and Eight-Mile creeks flow into the lake. Dolly Varden, the most abundant fish in the lake, are caught most often with salmon eggs and spinners.
Eklutna Lake feeds a power plant and provides drinking water for the Anchorage area.
The vegetation surrounding Eklutna Lake varies with the elevation. A dense forest of spruce and birch dominates lower elevations. Ferns, mushrooms, and wildflowers such as dwarf dogwood, fireweed and the parasitic broomrape cover the forest floor. At higher elevations the forests are replaced by fields of wildflowers such as mountain avens. Observe the change from wild beach pea, Sitka burnet and wild geranium on lower slopes to nookta lupine, Indian paintbrush, spotted saxifrage and cut-leaf anemone further up, leading to the blueberries and mosses of the tundra.
Berry picking is popular in late summer and early fall. Highbush and lowbush cranberries, currants, raspberries, and watermelon berries grow along the lower trails. Blueberries, bearberries, and crowberries are found higher up. Be careful to correctly identify berries before eating them, as some are poisonous.
Moose, muskrats, and waterfowl may be spotted near the lakeshore. Brown and black bears, wolves, and mountain goats inhabit the wilderness regions of the park and Dall sheep are often seen on the steep hillsides. A rock face at mile 1 of the Lakeside Trail is a spring lambing area and a particularly good place to see sheep year-round.
Smaller mammals living in the area include fox, lynx, porcupine, hare, ground squirrel, ermine, marmot, vole, and pika. Golden eagles, hawks, ptarmigan, grouse and several varieties of songbirds nest in the area. A telephoto lens or binoculars will help you enjoy wildlife in its natural habitat.
Special precautions must be taken to avoid problems with bears. Do not leave food or garbage in the open or in your tent. Cook and eat at least 100 feet downwind from your campsite. To avoid a surprise encounter with a bear, make noise when you travel -- tie a bell to your pack, whistle, talk, or sing. Bears, like other animals, may feel threatened if you get too close, and when threatened their reactions are unpredictable.
The Eklutna Lake Ranger Station has information on camping, fishing, trails, plants, and wildlife. Be prepared to handle emergencies yourself, as a ranger is not always available. Backcountry users are encouraged to leave a trip plan with friends or a ranger. Use a topographical map for extensive trips. Map section Anchorage B-6 is sold by the U.S.G.S. in Anchorage.