52 Weeks of Fun

Not Just Destination Finders, But Destination Storytellers


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Russian River Falls


The draw of this landscape is not just the falls, but what happens at the falls when the salmon start running. Located on the Russian River near Cooper Landing, the Russian River Falls is a steep cascade stair-stepping into level pools, giving opportunities for salmon to rest on their way to spawning grounds. The Russian River is teaming with thousands of green-headed, red-bodied sockeye salmon during the two major summer runs between mid-June and late July.

Hike out and observe the massive runs power their way upstream through the powerful current and onto their ancestral spawning grounds. But humans are not the only creatures interested in the run. It also gives bears an opportunity to take those salmon while standing in the shallow pools of the falls.

The viewing platform provides a small, intimate opportunity to view the salmon, and if a hiker does spot a neighboring bear, make sure to remain calm and maintain neutral ground. Although the salmon run Nature’s show here at the falls, hikers should be alert to bear activity in the area. Black and brown bears both live here and sometimes appear on the river to scoop salmon from the water. Hikers are repeatedly reminded to be on the lookout for bears because it is important not to surprise bears. Hike in a group. Keep the company and conversation of another hiking buddy loud enough to alert nearby bears to keep their distance.

The Russian Lakes Trail begins off the access road to the Russian River Campground in Cooper Landing, at milepost 52 of the Sterling Highway. The trail to the falls is two miles of evenly laid gravel, generously wide, and includes only gentle elevation changes. It’s a modest hike that resembles more of a leisurely stroll- perfect for families and hikers of any activity level. The trailhead begins from a forested entry and eventually gives way to a clearing for sun to stream through. Get off-the-beaten path, hike two miles to the falls and enjoy the immediate reward of spectacular salmon viewing and potential bear sightings.

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A 52 Weeks of Fun Fascinating Fact about Russian River Falls

Fishing in the Russian River provides the largest sport fishery in Alaska.

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  • Russian River Falls
  • Cooper Landing