Swan Lake fire

Patrick Quiner/Alaska Division of Forestry

Two more trails that were damaged by the Swan Lake Fire last year have reopened.

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge announce Friday that the lower Kenai River Trail and the Seven Lakes trails are now open to the public again after crews finished mitigating the damage. Both trails were in the heart of the burn zone for the massive Swan Lake Fire last year, and have been closed all summer so far.

Casey Lasota/Alaska Division of Forestry

By this time last year, the Kenai Peninsula was starving for rain. This year, we’re getting plenty of it, and that’s keeping wildfires down.

Wildfire danger is low enough that the Alaska Division of Forestry is comfortable sending Alaska’s fire crews out of state to help with fires burning in the Lower 48. Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Tim Mowry said that includes the Kenai Peninsula’s Yukon Crew.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Several popular trails closed after being damaged by the Swan Lake Fire last year are reopening to the public.

The Skyline Trail, which takes hikers up a steep mile to the tops of the Mystery Hills, and Hideout Trail, which takes off from near the eastern entrance of Skilak Lake Road, are now open again. Fuller Lakes Trail has been open this year up to the lower lake, but closed up to the upper lake. That upper part is now open as well. All three trails are popular but were closed due to extensive damage during the fires in 2019.

Alaska Division of Forestry

The first ghost of the Swan Lake Fire showed up on Tuesday east of Soldotna.

With big wildland fires that burn deep into the terrain, pockets of hot material can remain, even into the next year. These hotspots can then ignite and cause a secondary burn, called a holdover fire.

Morel season just about to heat up in Swan Lake burn

May 14, 2020
Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Last year, the Swan Lake Fire took away a lot of opportunity for outdoor activities across the western Kenai Peninsula. But, like many wildfires, it leaves behind a gift: morel mushrooms.

“After wildland fire, you end up with the conditions that are kind of ripe for welcoming morel mushrooms. We’ve had really large fires on the Kenai Peninsula in the past that have been very productive with morels,” said Leah Eskelin, park ranger for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

Morels, which grow across northern climates and have conical, brown caps, are highly sought after by mushroom hunters. Why? They can’t be bought commercially, and they’re delicious. They’re also notoriously hard to find.


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