- June to September
McKinley Lake can have some good sockeye salmon fishing in the outlet channels of the lake early in the season. But after the sockeye have been in the lake awhile they get old and red, and it’s best to let them spawn in peace. The same goes for coho salmon. There are better places to fish for coho in the local streams.
On the positive side, the cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden, and whitefish follow the salmon to feed on loose eggs or any invertebrates the salmon stir up when they dig their nests. If you see some salmon, there’s a good chance these other species are nearby. You can also fish for cutthroat and Dolly Varden along the shorelines, especially when the cutthroat are cruising the shallows in the evening.
The trail to the lake is approximately two miles long and is an easy to medium hike. The McKinley Lake trail intersects the Pipeline Lake Trail, which has resident cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden fishing. The outlet of McKinley Lake can be reached with a cross-country hike (no trail), but it is best accessed by boat.
There are two Forest Service cabins to rent in the McKinley area and sometimes there's some confusion about which one is which. McKinley TRAIL cabin is the one near the Copper River Highway, about 100 yards up the trail. McKinley LAKE cabin is on the lake, about 2.25 miles from the trailhead.