Next week is the start of spring break, leaving families across the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District one week and one day of time to fill. Usually, envisioning a “typical” spring break brings thoughts of warm, sandy beaches and suntanned skin, but those are hard to come by without a flight, or two, or three. The surrounding area, though, has plenty to offer to fill any family’s spring break with adventure.
— There are numerous public-use cabins across state and federal land in Alaska that can give families a quick escape into the wilderness. On the Kenai Peninsula, there are more than 20 cabins to choose from. Although the more popular cabins fill up quickly it may be possible to find availability, especially in one of the more remote cabins that would add an extra layer of excitement to a trip.
March is a great time to visit one of the cabins, with longer hours of daylight and warmer temperatures. Prices for the cabins vary, but are relatively low.
Reservations for cabins maintained by the state’s Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation can be made on dnr.alaska.gov. Reservations for cabins on the Kenai Wildlife Refuge can be made on recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
— Whether it’s for trekking out to a public-use cabin, or just for a day in the sun, snowshoeing is a great way to get outside and explore over spring break. The Kenai Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center will be holding two beginner snowshoeing hikes March 15.
“We provide the snowshoes and no one needs experience,” Kenai Wildlife Refuge Park Ranger Leah Eskelin said. “You just need to dress warmly and wear tied shoes. You don’t need snow boots if you wear a double sock and hiking boots.”
Families interested should call 260-2820 to preregister for the snowshoe walks, which the refuge is billing as “snow” much fun. Eskelin said that the walks, which will go to Headquarters Lake, are meant for the entire family, but children should be in second grade and above. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
“We’ll act like wolves and learn how wolves deal with the snow,” Eskelin said. “It’s very interactive and great for the whole family.”
For those with a little more experience in snowshoeing, there are many trail options across the Kenai Peninsula including Skilak Lookout Trail, five miles round trip, located on Skilak Road about three miles east of Upper Skilak Campground. Nearby, at Mile 57 on the Sterling Highway, is Fuller Lakes Trail, a six-mile round trip hike of moderate difficulty that leads to subalpine lakes.
— Another option for exploring snowy trails is fat biking. The bikes, equipped with pleasantly plump tires, are designed to ride on unique surfaces, like snow. They give riders the chance to see familiar trails in a new season, in the winter light.
Buying a fat bike for the entire family is an investment, though. Luckily, Beemun’s Variety in Soldotna has a few on hand to rent for a day of trail riding and trail exploring.
“Good places to go would be the new multiuse trail across from the dump, Slikok trails,” Brad Carver of Beemun’s said. “You could ride the actual singletrack at Tsalteshi Trails, which has been groomed for fat biking.”
Carver warned that the actual trails at Tsalteshi are for skiing only — another great way to spend spring break — but the singletrack is open to bikers and snowshoers.
Carver also recommended the Caribou Hills for fat biking. Starting from Freddie’s Roadhouse, 16 miles out Oil Well Road near Ninilchik, there are a variety of multiuse trails maintained by the Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers.
— For those who want to stay a little warmer this spring break, the refuge will host an event focusing on nature movies and crafts March 13.
“It’s simple, but it really engages people with topics they haven’t thought of before,” Eskelin said. “We’re focusing on what animals are doing. You look out the door, it’s still snowy and even though everyone is thinking about spring, we’re talking about what animals are doing in the snow.”
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the refuge will host two screenings of a nature documentary with themed crafts in between and after each showing. The event is free and open, without registration.
— The Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward recently switched to its spring hours, meaning the center will be open every day over spring break from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets are $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for children and can be purchased at the SeaLife Center.
The aquarium has a variety of exhibits, including a touch tank where visitors can be hands-on with local sea creatures.