Water Taxi and Tours. Enjoy spectacular hiking, biking and camping opportunities
in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. Bay Excursions will pick you up and drop you
off for a day hike, overnighter or week long expedition. The long, warm
days of summer usher in a seasonal welcome for wildflowers, shrubs and
trees after months of winter dormancy. Spectrums of color dot area hills,
mountains, bogs, and meadows like vibrant confetti.
- A good place to start identifying common flora in
the Homer area is at the Pratt Museum Botanical Garden. Beginning
in late April and continuing through the summer, on-site gardeners
who tend the grounds enjoy sharing their fields of knowledge about
- The museum's botanical garden is host to 125 species
native to the Kenai Peninsula. The garden is laid out in four sections,
which simulate distinct environments where different species can be
found growing in the wild:
- Bog: Wet and spongy, this habitat nurtures mosses.
Of the nine species in this area, the Labrador Tea and Lowbush Cranberry
are two examples of plants that grow in boggy areas.
- Bog to Forest Transition: A border zone where two
habitats meet host six species, one of which is willow, the favorite
food of moose.
- Meadow: Sunlight is vital to plants of open meadows.
Eight species typical of plants that grow in meadows are Fireweed,
Prickly Wild Rose and Nootka Lupine.
- Alpine: These high mountain plants contend with the
shortest growing season. The 19 species featured here were collected
from across Kachemak Bay, a few of which include Pussy Toes and Mountain
- A Dry Stream Bed section is currently being developed
which will feature plants like Cotton Grass.
- Additionally, 26 varieties of wildflowers dazzle
- The Pratt Museum Botanical Garden is open 24 hours.
An interpretive walking guide is available on the premises for fifty
cents. Located on Bartlett Street in downtown Homer.
- For those who want to venture out and experience
the natural setting of wild plants first hand with a local guide or
on your own, Homer offers at least two alternatives:
- The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust conducts guided
nature walks on the Calvin and Coyle Nature Trail during the summer.
The trail is open to the public anytime. Abundant wildlife and flora
can be encountered on this trail which overlooks the Beluga wetlands,
home to many moose in winter and some in summer. An interpretive sign
and brochure await you at the first trailhead, behind Paul Banks Elementary
School a short distance out East Road, off Mariner Drive.
- The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust also provides two
guided nature walks on the 6.7 mile Homestead Trail which traverses
the higher elevations without being strenuous. The trailhead is off
Rogers Loop at the top of Baycrest Hill of the Sterling Highway, across
the street from the Bayview Inn.
- Two additional wild flora tours are offered by the
Land Trust. One will bring you across Kachemak Bay for a hike to Red
Mountain, guided by Janice Schofield, author of "Discovering
Wild Plants." She can help you identify all wild and edible plants
and herbs that are available on the trail. In late June and continuing
through August, the Land Trust visits four local homesteads that are
under conservation easement. These properties nurture wild berry bushes
as well as an abundance of other northland delights. There is a fee
for most guided walks.
- Check with the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust for dates
and times of guided walks and other activities at 395 East Pioneer
(Box 2400), Homer, Alaska 99603. Telephone 235-5263.
- The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies has been fostering
education in the marine and coastal ecosystem in the Homer area for
years. Their field station in Peterson Bay, across from Kachemak Bay,
conducts natural history tours from Memorial Day through Labor Day
and incorporates both beach and forest exploration on the Island Peninsula
between China Poot and Peterson Bay. The variety of trail systems
can be tailored to individual hiking abilities, and each offers spectacular
scenery, identification of plants and forest ecology, a close-up view
of eagles, seals and other wildlife, and a glimpse into tidepools
at low tide for intertidal sealife. Boat transportation across the
Bay includes a close-up drift around Gull Island Bird Rookery, and
departs Homer at 9 a.m., returning at 6 p.m. Tickets and reservations
can be made at Rainbow Tours on the Homer Spit across from the Harbormaster's
office, or by calling 235-7272.
- The Carl E. Wynn Nature Center opened last year.
The 135 acres on Skyline Drive were donated to the Coastal Studies
Center by Mr. Wynn. Teeming with wildflowers and other alpine wonders,
it's a fine addition to the out-of-doors celebration of life. An observation
deck has been built which overlooks the meadow and takes in the view
of Kachemak Bay. Nearing completion at the Wynn Center is a "handicap
- The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies office is
located at 4014 Lake Street (P.O. Box 2225), Suite 208, Homer, Alaska
99603. Telephone 235-6667.
Whether you take advantage of a guided nature tour or
go exploring on your own, beware that there are poisonous plants, berries
and mushrooms which, if ingested, can be fatal. There are also plants
that sting such as Stinging Nettle and Devil's Club. Familiarize yourself
with them and don't pet any prickly plants. by Nancy Brown
This guide brought to you by The
Homer Tribune. Publisher: Jane M. Pascall. Voice (907)235-3714,
Fax (907)235-3716 E-mail: email@example.com,
601 E. Pioneer Ave., Suite 109, Homer, AK 99603.
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