- Chinook salmon
- Coho salmon
- Dolly Varden
- Common merganser
- Arctic terns
The confluence of placid Slikok Creek with the glacial Kenai River offers a glimpse of two overlapping migrations. Arctic terns that have flown 10,000 miles from South America arrive here to feed on salmon smolts moving toward the sea in a run five to 50 million strong. Bald eagles and gulls work the main stem of the river, filling the air with their cries. Adult Chinook and coho salmon return to the creek to spawn, feeding bears and replenishing lush bottomland with nutrients. Moose feed in the meadows across the river, while songbirds move through the forest. Rocks along the shallows hide invertebrates at the bottom of the food chain, such as mayflies and caddisflies.
Along the trail to the river, a dense white spruce and paper birch forest blends to bottomland dominated by riverbank alders and willows and creekside marshlands. The rocky shallows and overhanging banks along the Kenai give protection to juvenile salmon and insect larvae. The north bank supports mature forest and meadows.
Dena’ina Natives once used the creek’s west bank for fishing.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game uses sonar to track the number of returning adult sockeye salmon. The sonar counter crosses the river just upstream and can be seen from the boardwalk.
The smolt migration to sea begins in late May and peaks in June, drawing the most activity by migratory birds. A culvert upstream along College Road offers close views of spawning Chinook salmon.
Bring a small net and hand lens for close-up looks at stream invertebrates. Caddisfly larva build protective casings from small rocks and twigs, grass and leaves.
Sterling Highway milepost 96.1 (just south of the Kenai River Bridge)—turn west on Kalifornsky Beach Road and go 1.1 miles. Turn right on West Endicott Drive, follow to left onto Endicott Drive, follow—.8 mile to Park entrance on right (signed).