Things To Do In Homer, Alaska In The Winter

With all the talk of darkness and cold, winter in Alaska tends to get brushed aside as a season that you’re better off skipping. But - and we think most locals would agree - we believe that winter is exceptionally underrated. Sure, you have to work a little harder to stay warm and shoveling snow out of your driveway is a pain, but the experiences that are made available to us because of winter are some of the most fun and exciting ones of the entire year.

The key to contentedness in winter is getting outside. It may seem hard to convince yourself to walk out the door, but once you do, you’ll be better for it. That little boost of vitamin D is crucial for making the most out of winter in Alaska. 

There are plenty of adventurous things to do in Alaska no matter the time of year (check out our blog on things to do year-round)! And while we highly recommend checking out as much of the last frontier as possible, this post is going to focus on what we know best: outdoor things to do in Homer, Alaska in the winter.

Experience Homer’s scenic cross country ski trails.

Every year, hundreds of acres of Homer’s backcountry wilderness suddenly becomes accessible to skiers. In the warmer months, the trails are generally too marshy to be worth visiting but when covered with a layer of snow, they are transformed into some of the most scenic, fun trails in Alaska. 

If you don’t have your own cross country skis, don’t worry! You can rent them from Homer Saw and CycleCycle Logical, in the middle of downtown Homer, will also start carrying skis soon!

If you want a view of the ocean while you ski, you have a few options:

1. McNeil Trails (~13km). This trail is located out east end road. You can ski many variations of these trails, making your trip anywhere from 1-13km long. Central to the trail system is a picnic table with an excellent, unobstructed view of Kachemak Bay.
2. Eveline State Recreation Site (~4km). This trail is short and sweet. You don’t have to work hard to get to a vista on this trail; an amazing view of - Kachemak Bay and Homer’s expansive backcountry shows up very shortly after you start skiing. 
3. Sunset Loop (~5 km). This loop is great for beginners and makes you feel like you’re on top of the world as you break through the trees and gain a fantastic view of the west side of Kachemak Bay. We highly recommend doing this trail at sunset, just like the name suggests!

For a complete list of ski trails in Homer, including more technical and/or long trails, visit the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club website.

cross country skiing in homer, alaska

Bring out your downhill skis for a fun afternoon at the Homer Rope Tow.

Homer may not have a ski resort but its rope tow is a super fun operation that’s loved dearly amongst locals. Run completely by volunteers, the rope tow is a great way to get some low-angle turns in, connect with community members and even give your arms a workout (holding onto the rope isn’t always easy!). Check out their website and give them a follow on Instagram!

Unfortunately, there is no place to rent downhill ski equipment in Homer so bring your own or snag some in Anchorage before heading down.

Go sledding!

For some reason, many people subscribe to the notion that sledding is just for kids. Well, at least in Homer, sledding is loved by all. Many Alaskans will just pull off the side of the road and posthole their way through the snow to get to a hill that they want to sled down. 

If you’re not feeling up for that much of an adventure, we suggest heading to Ohlson Mountain. More of a small hill than a mountain, Ohlson is the perfect size for some family sledding fun. 

When the conditions are right, another great option is heading to the Bridge Creek Reservoir. There is a steep hill with a perfect, drawn out ending so you can pick up speed without having to worry about needing to stop at the bottom. 

Don’t have a sled? Try visiting Ulmer’s in downtown Homer. They usually have sleds in stock!

Strap on your snowshoes and head out for a scenic hike.

Snowshoeing is another fun way to experience Homer’s backcountry. There are plenty of options for trails (or you can make your own), but here are some of the most common and easily accessible trails:

1. Roger’s Loop Trail. Also known as the “Baycrest Roger’s Loop Marked Snowshoe Trail”, you can find this 5km trail off of Roger’s Loop Rd. Follow the signs for the snowshoe trail or else you might run into some skiers!
2. Crossman Ridge Road by the Bridge Creek Reservoir. If you park at the reservoir you’ll see a steep hill (often used for sledding) that marks the start of some fun snowshoeing. None of the forks make a loop, so just pick a direction and turn around whenever you feel like it. This road gives you views of the ocean and we like it specifically for snowshoeing because it’s not designated for anything else - you won’t run into frustrated skiers or snow machiners here!
3. McNeil Trails. This is the same trail system that is used by cross country skiers, referenced earlier in this post. Make sure to be courteous to skiers and follow trail sign with snow shoes on them!

During years with less snowfall, chances are the conditions are prime for ice skating.

ice skating on Beluga Lake in Homer, Alaska

If you find yourself planning a trip to Homer and the weather isn’t quite snowy enough for skiing or sledding, you might be able to go on an epic ice skating adventure!

Planning for ice skating in Homer is a bit tricky because it’s so weather dependent. But if the conditions are right, it’s an activity you CAN’T miss out on. The best ice skating conditions occur after a light rain, followed by a night of freezing temperatures. That ensures that the lakes will be smooth and skatable. It’s probably worth noting that there is inherent risk involved with ice skating on lakes, but with some common sense and a little research on weather conditions, you should be able to determine if it’s a safe time to go. 

Beluga Lake and Lamarck Lake in Homer are both free and open to the public for skating. Our favorite ice skating adventure, however, requires hopping on a water taxi and heading across the bay to Grewink Glacier. After a short hike in (ice cleats recommended), throw on your skates and enjoy adventuring in the presence of large icebergs and snowy peaks.

Go for a sunset walk or bike ride at Bishop’s Beach.

Bishop’s Beach in Homer is well-loved and easily accessible. We love going for sunset walks out at low tide. You’ll even see people jogging with small ice cleats wrapped around their shoes if the conditions are right. When you walk down Bishop’s Beach, you’ll have a clear view of Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains. It’s picturesque, fun and so easy to get to!

If walking or running isn’t your speed, try biking along the low tide line with a fat tire bike! Designed for biking in snow, “fat bikes” also handle really well on sand. Riding these bikes is a super fun way to keep your fitness up in the winter or just experience something totally different. 

You can rent a fat tire bike at Cycle Logical in Homer. And if you don’t want to plan your own adventure, talk to them about one of their tours! You can adventure way beyond Bishop’s Beach with a Cycle Logical guide leading the way. 

Keep an eye on the swell because you might be able to go surfing!

Believe it or not, Homer has a small, but dedicated community of winter surfers. Visitors are lucky if they get a day or two of surfing in during the summer, but winter is an entirely different story – it’s not uncommon for surfers to get some good time in the water multiple days a week!

Homer doesn’t have a place to rent surf boards but if you’re traveling from out of state or another part of Alaska, it’s worth keeping an eye on the weather to determine whether or not to bring one.

Go ski touring in the Kenai Mountains.

Some of the most pristine and remote skiing can be found in the Kenai mountains that sit across the bay from Homer. If you’re an experienced backcountry skier or snowboarder in search of POW with an ocean view, you have to check out Jakolof or Grace Ridge. 

A quick water taxi ride will get you there in no time! Remember to bring your avalanche safety gear!

Relax in a private hot tub after a long day of adventuring.

There’s nothing quite like taking a soak in a private hot tub during a winter sunset! Baycrest Lodge has guest homes of all sizes, each with a private hot tub so you can fully unwind after a long day of adventuring. 

hot tub with a view in Homer, alaska

No other place in Homer offers all of the upscale amenities that you can find at Baycrest Lodge…

  • Private hot tubs that are cleaned daily
  • Full kitchens stocked with cooking essentials like non-stick pans, basic seasonings and oils, coffee and tea
  • Natural gas grills
  • Smart TVs
  • Access to an outdoor fire pit
  • Leather sofas and locally crafted furniture
  • Extra clean rooms (even quilts and blankets are washed between guests)

Read more about Baycrest Lodge and it's top-notch ammenities here. You can also learn more about the family behind Baycrest Lodge here.

Ready to get some winter adventures under your belt? Homer is waiting for you!

 

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