Southwest Kenai Locations:

Beluga Slough Trail

caption follows
Northern shovelers and sandpipers.

Notable Species

  • Greater white-fronted goose
  • Canada goose
  • Trumpeter swan
  • Tundra swan
  • Eurasian wigeon
  • American wigeon
  • Northern shoveler
  • Northern pintail
  • Green-winged teal
  • Bufflehead
  • Common goldeneye
  • Bald eagle
  • Merlin
  • Sandhill crane
  • Greater yellowlegs
  • Lesser yellowlegs
  • Western sandpiper
  • Least sandpiper
  • Northwestern crow
  • Tree swallow
  • Violet-green swallow

This trail takes you along lower Beluga Slough, a salt marsh where the freshwater of Beluga Lake mixes with Kachemak Bay’s 25-foot tides. Along the 0.6-mile walk between the Alaska Islands and Oceans Visitor Center and Bishop’s Beach parking lot, wildlife viewers descend a hillside and pass through a forest, skirt a meadow of salt-tolerant grasses, sedges and succulent plants, and finally come to a gravel/sand beach with shallow channels of flowing water. Salt water fills the slough only when the tide rises above 18 feet. During the spring, migrating shorebirds and waterfowl forage for invertebrates, small fish and sprouting marsh plants when the ebbing tide exposes the mud. Summer brings nesting cranes, eagles, and merlins. Listen for the calls of bald eagles from the trees along the marsh. Watch for violet-green and tree swallows and northwestern crows.


An intertidal basin (where extreme high tides mix with freshwater flows) rimmed by a salt marsh defines the slough. At higher elevations, grasses, willows and alders transition to spruce forest on the hillside.

Viewing Tip

Explore the boardwalk just as the tide begins ebbing, when shorebird flocks are most visible. Hike the beach as the tide ebbs further. Always take binoculars; this place draws birds in all seasons.

Helpful Hints

Wear rubber boots and carefully explore any areas off the boardwalk. The slough contains deep channels that should be avoided. Avoid trampling sensitive wetland habitats.

Getting There

Go to the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center at 95 Sterling Highway in Homer. The easy trail starts at the parking lot and leads downhill to Bishop’s Beach.


Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center