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Northeast Kenai Locations:

Tern Lake

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Tern Lake.

Arctic terns, mew gulls, and trumpeter swans flock to this shallow lake in May and June to nest and feed on schooling fish. In September and October, watch for groups of 10–20 trumpeter swans gathering on open waters. Black bears forage for grass and berries in mountain meadows overlooking the valley. Dall sheep and mountain goats roam mountain slopes, especially along the green-up edges. Moose forage in the marsh early and late in the day.

Dusk will bring out beavers and muskrat. Although terns and many other nesting birds leave by late July, that’s when sockeye salmon begin arriving in force to spawn.

Look for salmon along Daves Creek—off the picnic area at the western shore of the lake or take a canoe to the feeder creek to the east. Bald eagles perch on trees overlooking the lake. Forest songbirds forage in the trees along an old campground access road on the lake’s southwestern shore (the campground is no longer open).

Notable Species

  • Sockeye salmon
  • Beaver
  • Black bear
  • Dall sheep
  • Mountain goat
  • Muskrat
  • Trumpeter swan
  • Ring-necked duck
  • Common merganser
  • Red-breasted merganser
  • Common loon
  • Mew gull
  • Arctic tern
  • Alder flycatcher

Habitat

The shallow productive lake has spawning gravels rimmed by marshland. Alder and willow thickets rim the shore. White spruce forest extends from the lake to subalpine brush. Alpine tundra sweeps across the slopes above.

Viewing Tip

The shallow productive lake has spawning gravels rimmed by marshland. Alder and willow thickets rim the shore. White spruce forest extends from the lake to subalpine brush. Alpine tundra sweeps across the slopes above.

Getting There

At the junction of the Seward and Sterling Highways, there is a parking area overlooking the lake. Follow signs to find access to a day-use picnic area, with viewing deck and restrooms, beside the lake off Sterling Highway.

More Information

Visit the NatureWatch Tern Lake website.

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