Just a few paddle strokes from our Lodge….

Just a few paddle strokes from our Lodge….

Just a few paddle strokes from our Lodge….

Just a few paddle strokes from our Lodge….

Just a few paddle strokes from our Lodge….

Swanson River Canoe Trail


The Swan Lake Canoe Trail is an idyllic flatwater network of 60 miles rivers, 17 lakes and numerous portages in the central Kenai Peninsula. Most visitors take day trips or overnight camping trips via canoes or sea kayaks on the Swan Lake Canoe Route.

The main activities are paddling, fishing for rainbow trout and arctic char, birding, wildlife viewing from your boat, and portaging your boat and gear from one lake or river to the next. Motors are not allowed within this designated Wilderness unit, so peace and quiet are the Rule of Law on the Swan Lake Canoe Route.

You can access the Swan Lake Canoe Route by a short paddle up the Moose River from the beach at Great Alaska's main lodge. The area has been compared to the famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.


The Canoe Route and neighboring area are mostly flatlands that are boggy, with little land with good drainage needed for settlement and transportation (except for great canoeing). The Swan Lake Canoe Route is a more popular destination than it's next-door neighbor, the Swanson River Canoe Route. Both are located within the Dave Spencer Unit of the Kenai Wilderness, created as part of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in 1980.

Great Alaska Involvement

The Swan Lakes Canoe trail was one of our first connections with the Kenai. Great Alaska (and Pederson's Moose River resort before that!) rented canoes and provided shuttles for the 17-25 mile 1-way drive to the trailhead for folks who traveled from around the world to come and paddle the Swan Lake Canoe Route. We can remember many of them whom had just finished climbing Denali!

Great Alaska on the Trail:
In the past Great Alaska even guided a few clients over the trail, which terminates at our main lodge itself at the confluence of the Moose and Kenai Rivers. Portaging gear for clients is an acquired taste and not a trip we offered for long! In keeping with our heritage, however, we have a tent camp located on the Moose River at the edge of the KNWR on the banks of the Moose River, base camp for multi sport camping trips on the Kenai Peninsula. Now our guests paddle for an hour or a day into the Canoe Route, returning to the lodge in the evening for a glass of wine, a good meal, and a comfortable bed.

Any time you stay at our lodge, you have direct access to the Canoe Route as part of our "evening activities" Those activities include:

  • Paddling on the Moose River and Canoe Route on canoes, kayaks or Paddleboards
  • Paddling up The Moose to our tent camp as a guided activity on several of our nature safari itineraries.
  • Evening "salmon fishing by the fire" at our lodge riverside beach at the confluence of Moose and Kenai Rivers, right by the Swan Lake Canoe Route.

In Closing

The Swan Lake Canoe Route is part of a large and diverse network of headwaters and feeder streams flowing into the Kenai River. The labyrinth of rivers and lakes is part of the critically important land that makes the Kenai River such a world famous fishing destination.

Great Alaska's Adventure Lodge is strategically located at the point where the Swan Lake Canoe Route and Swanson River Canoe Route feed into the Kenai River. That's why fishing at our private exclusive beach is so great.

Frequently Asked Questions

What wildlife can I see in The Canoe Route?

The Moose river and Swan Lakes canoe trail are host to a huge variety of wildlife - some of the most popular wildlife that we see every year on our daily paddles are: Moose, Beaver, Otter, Eagles, Brown and Black bear, Lynx and Wolves and numerous waterfowl, like sandhill Cranes, Tundra and Trumpeter swans, Mergansers and Wood Ducks. The full diversity of area wildlife enjoy the protected status inside the Wilderness Area and other portions of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, including the Swan Lake Canoe Route, Swanson River Canoe Route, and Dave Spencer Wilderness Area would fill out this entire page.

How do I get there?

The Swan Lakes Canoe Trail has an East and West leg- but both end up on the Moose River, and the trail ends right in front of our Riverfront lodge at the confluence of the Moose and Kenai Rivers. While our trips do not offer the actual trail itself (we used to offer overnight guided trips on the trail by yours truly) but we stopped offering those trips many years ago!

How long is the Swan Lakes trail?

The Swan Lakes Canoe trail is made up of two legs- the East leg has 6 lakes and 6 portages, followed by a 17 mile paddle out down the Moose River, ending at our riverfront main lodge. The West entrance is a little more challenging, with 12 lakes prior to hitting the Moose river for the final 17 mile paddle out.

Does Great Alaska offer trips on the Trail?

None of our adventure or combination fishing and adventure packages include the Swan Lakes trail itself, however all of our guests who are staying at our riverfront lodge have access to the terminus of the trail every night on our "Evening Activities", which include salmon fishing by the fire, and canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding up the Moose River towards the border of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Not Ready to Book Yet?

Receive a copy of our exciting 2018 Legendary Adventures brochure in the mail and we’ll have our 40 page catalog in the sent to you right away. In the meantime, dive into the online version, and please let us know if you have any questions! Our office staff has a combined 100 years of Alaska and worldwide adventure travel experience, and we’d love to put that knowledge to work to assist your planning.

A Sustainable Destination

In addition to sharing the amazing Kenai with our guests, protection of our environment and all of it’s unique and amazing wildlife is at the core of all adventure travel and wilderness fishing experiences, and since 2010, Great Alaska Adventures is proud to be certified as a sustainable Travel Destination from Adventure Green Alaska - Alaska’s recognized tourism certification program.

Find out more about sustainability