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Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,378.00 ft (724.81 m)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
16.00 mi (25.75 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Lost Lake is a 15-mile, one-way shuttle trail that winds through the southern Chugach National Forest of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. While relatively popular amount mountain bikers, the trail sees considerably less foot traffic than many other trails so close to Alaska touristed towns.

The northern end of the trail is located at the Primrose Campground, just south of Moose Pass, while the southern end is located at the Lost Lake Road Trailhead on the northern edge of Seward. This trail is best done with friends and at least two cars in the party. Stash one car at the opposite side, where you’ll be ending, then all drive in the other to your starting trailhead.

The total elevation gained and lost is almost identical. While technically slightly more elevation is gained going from Seward to Primrose (the elevation of the Seward trailhead of 333 feet is lower than that of Primrose’s 487 feet), starting at the Primrose side is generally considered the harder, though both directions are moderate in difficulty at most. 

The Primrose side is the steeper section of trail, with a fair amount of roots, rocks, and other obstacles. If you plan on biking the trail, start at Seward to avoid these on the way up, where you’ll inevitably have to dismount and walk your bike more than you’d like. Better the bumps on the downhill!

Lost Lake is also closer to the Primrose trailhead, just shy of 7 miles, so if you plan on camping at the lake and want an easier trek out, front-load the first day with the greater distance and ALL the uphill, you may also consider starting in Seward. To go from the Seward side, turn west off Alaska Highway 1 at the trailhead sign just north of the fire station right outside town. The coordinates of this trailhead are 60.17244 N, 149.41091 W.

This guide specifically documents the hike as going from the Primrose Campground trailhead. After parking at Primrose Campground (which is free provided you’re not occupying an actual campsite—in which case the going rate as of summer 2019 is $14). The trail itself starts at the back of the campground loop, but plenty of signage marks it. You can sign the trail register if you wish, which in bear country is never a bad idea.

Right from the start, you climb at a moderate grade for about 5 miles, during which you’ll climb about 1,500 feet. At this point, you’ll break tree line (which, yes, is remarkably low in Alaska) and ascend onto a sort of ridge riddled with shallow little ponds amid the mossy alpine terrain. Bonus points for how many times you can make the joke, “We found Lost Lakes!” to your buddies before they throw you in.

The next 1.5 miles across the ridge covers gradual terrain that is perhaps the most stunning on the trail, with blue glaciers hanging down from the mountain ranges on both sides of you. When Lost Lake appears in the distance, you won’t mistake this for any of the ponds. Huge and tinted with Alaska’s unreal deep teal coloration, there won’t be any mistake that you’ve found the Lost.

As the lake comes up on your right, 6.72 miles after the start of the trail (coordinates 60.27114N, 149.41778 W), you’ll reach the first of several access points to camping along the lake. While there isn’t necessarily any sanctioned or even unofficial established campsites, there are definitely preferred areas where the ground is flat and not terribly marshy.

This specific access point is desirable because it accesses the first of two skinny peninsulas that reach out into the lake. Please note that camping on these peninsulas themselves is prohibited (as signs along the trail will inform you). You can camp at the base of either without issue, and there’s plenty of gravel beaches to go swimming (it’s cold but oh so refreshing!) and mostly flat land on which to pitch a tent. From the main trail, it’s another 0.5 mile down to the lake shore.

For campers: Fires are not allowed in the realm of Lost Lake. A sign along the ridge trail will inform at which point they are prohibited. Make sure you’re prepared with some kind of stove or prepared food.

Also note that pretty much all of Alaska is bear territory, so exercise proper backcountry bear safety. Hike with bear spray. Don’t store food overnight near your camp. Unfortunately, since Lost Lake sits above tree line, there are but a few sparse, small trees that wouldn’t do well to hang food. The best solution is a bear keg, but if you don’t have one, try to make your food as odorless and secure as possible.

The hike out to Seward is slightly longer than the hike in to the lake. Begin by climbing back up from the lake shore to the main trail and continuing on straight, following the lake from one end to the other. Make sure to look behind every once in a while; the view is spectacular.

As you reach the opposite end of the lake, you’ll pass more campsite possibilities along the higher cliffs, where a creek pours out of the lake. Supposedly this camping spot is less bug infested than the lower sites; then again, it’s Alaska. If you let the mosquitos deter you, you’ll never do anything outside.

Cross the narrow footbridge over the creek and you’ll find yourself on a wide open expanse of trail over a series of gentle rolling barren hillsides. 

At 10 miles total, you’ll crest pretty much the last hill. The last 5 miles, while downhill in grade, are anything but in terms of scenery. 

Once you descend into tree-line again, you’ll find yourself amid an idyllic meadow, filled with lush green foliage and all manner of wildflowers. The Alaska gem is, of course, the magenta-blooming and prolific fireweed. Fun fact: All parts of this plant are edible, so feel free to have some leafy trail snacks.

After this stretch, about 3 miles from the end, the trail begins to scrawl along the side of a mountain, with a steep and tumbling drop to the right side and views of Resurrection Bay in the distance. Be especially aware of oncoming cyclists here. The trail is only wide enough for one person, and it can be precarious to step to the side to let others pass. Do so with care, and if you happen to be cycling dismount when passing hikers who have stepped aside for you. Nothing is more disconcerting than a clumsily steered bike going uphill toward you while your heals are hanging over the edge of a 100-foot slope.

At the end of the trail, find a very large parking lot equipped with pit toilets and the car you’ve (hopefully) stashed there. After the long hike, head on into Seward for a well deserved Bucket of ‘But, some of the best halibut poppers in all of Alaska (and that’s saying something!). Although officially 15 miles in length, the hike to Lost Lake generally it rounds out to about 16 miles if you plan on camping at the lake.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Days

2

Pros

Moderate difficulty. Stunning views. Remote backcountry camping. Remote feel.

Cons

Sharing trail with mountain bikes. Bear country. Often hot without shade. Insects.

Trailhead Elevation

487.00 ft (148.44 m)

Highest point

2,200.00 ft (670.56 m)

Net Elevation Gain

-155.00 ft (-47.24 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Family friendly
Potable water
Near lake or river
Glacier
Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

Yes

Suitable for

Biking

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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