Lost Lake – mountain biking

Lost Lake has got to be one of the best mountain bike trails in Alaska . . . the views are unreal – of Resurrection Bay from the Seward side, Lost Lake itself, and Kenai Lake as you descend into Primrose.  It never gets old to sit up at the lake, nestled in the beautiful mountains and with huge mountains to gaze at in every direction.  And the COLOR – unreal.  

At 14 miles point-to-point and nearly 3000’ of elevation gain/loss, it’s not an easy ride.  And it’s totally worth waiting for a nice day so as to enjoy the views and the whole experience.  While the riding is super fun on it’s own, it can be nasty up there in bad weather!  

The ride can be done as an out-and-back from Seward (S) or Primrose (N) or a point-to-point with car shuttle (or use of Iditarod – Meridian and Bear Lake trails and the highway to create a loop).  

The Seward climb is definitely the more rideable of the two.  While there are some technical sections, you can pedal essentially the whole thing.  It’s a solid 1.5 hours to the lake and is steadily uphill the whole way.  It’s a steeper grade than Devil’s Creek but otherwise somewhat of a comparable climb.  

The Primrose climb has a lot of hike-a-bike, doesn’t have the views, and is generally a lot of work!  It really only makes sense to climb this side if 1) you’re doing the whole trail twice, 2) are committed to riding the Primrose descent and don’t have a car shuttle.  Even then, it may be worth riding the Iditarod trails (Meridian and Bear Lake) and/or road to the Seward side and climbing from there!

The Seward descent is fast and fun.  Not overly technical, it has some exposure into the valley on the right in some parts.  It’s essentially all downhill and therefore pretty quick. The views are amazing!  Keep in mind this is the more trafficked side of the trail so be ready for pedestrian and bike traffic as you descend!  

The Primrose descent is more technical and super fun.  The top section has some very technical parts that are common to walk.  That said, they’re all rideable without mandatory air if one has good bike handling skills!  After the initial super techy section, the trail mellows somewhat and most riders can clear the rest.  It stays super fun, however, with root features and beautiful forest with good dirt.  There are a few small uphill sections, so don’t get in your mind that it’s ever “all downhill from here!”  If you like the Primrose descent, it’s worth checking out Ptarmigan Lake – shorter, but very similar in character!  

The point-to-point through-ride from Seward to Primrose is my favorite way to ride this trail.  I love the burn of the climb out of Seward, the views of Resurrection Bay and the initial view of Lost Lake.  I also enjoy the pedal across the Lost Lake plateau – don’t be fooled, however.  You’re not ‘there’ when you get to the lake – it’s a solid 45 min to an hour, with a decent amount of climbing (steep in places) and is always a bit more challenging than my mind seems to recall!  Once you see Kenai Lake, you’re essentially at the start of the downhill.  I love the top section and really enjoy the technical features.  If you have a multi-skill group, there’s a great ‘flat’ forest spot at the end of this section that’s perfect to re-group in.  From there, the trail stays engaging but much less technical, with ‘flat’ forest spots to regroup in throughout.  With the downhill features, uphill sections, and overall character it’s no ‘easy’ descent and I’m always glad to enjoy some food and beverage on the shores of Kenai Lake at the end!  

The climb out of Seward is lush and rideable!


The views on the Seward side of the trail are unreal beautiful. Here the trail emerges above treeline into the alpine with Resurrection Bay in the background.


Topping out on the Seward side


Topping out fro the climb out of Seward . . . first view of Lost Lake and a great lunch stop – the wind tends to keep the bugs down here and the tundra is great for lazing in!


Alaska mountain biking doesn’t get better than Lost Lake!


Just past the lake turnoff, riding toward the Primrose descent . . . so cool up here!

This bridge is just wide enough to ride . . . if you’re into that sort of thing!

I love the views crossing the Lost Lake plateau . . . Lost Lake is bigger than it looks at first glance, and with smaller tarns throughout as well.


Plenty of lake-view tundra lounging opportunities!

Mt. Ascension in the background, lovely trail, more lakes!


Kenai Lake coming into view and signaling the beginning of the Primrose Descent.


The Primrose descent is almost all forest riding


and super fun!

While not the panoramic alpine views from above, the forest has its own beauty and I love that a through-ride changes character so much!

Of note, it’s really common to flat on the Lost Lake plateau due to water bar features, or on the roots of the descent.  Be sure to be prepared!  I’d say this ride can be comfortably done in 4 hours, though I’d recommend having plenty of time to enjoy the high country and address mechanical stuff – it’s less straightforward than a lot of the rides on the Kenai, in my opinion!

I also love the Seward out-and-back . . . grind up, enjoy the lake, ride down!  It’s definitely the simplest and quickest and is a very worthy ride.  Many would tell you it’s the way to do it, as the views down the Seward side are so incredible, and I wouldn’t debate them!  It’s probably the classic descent and far more rideable for far more riders!

If you like this trail report, check out the whole guide to Alaska biking!!!  Ride on and enjoy 🙂

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