Five acres may not seem like a lot in Alaska, but sometimes the smallest properties hold the most significance to their surrounding ecosystems and communities. This tract, known as the “Saddle Trail property,” provides important beachfront access to the neighboring Saddle Trail—one of the most popular hiking trails in the entire state. Before 2022, the property had been under private ownership and under threat of being closed to park visitors. Today, we are holding the property while raising funds for its permanent protection and are allowing access during our interim ownership.

If permanently secured through our efforts, the Saddle Trail property will be donated to Kachemak Bay State Park to safeguard beach access for those enjoying the park and Saddle Trail, which is used by hikers to visit Grewingk Glacier Lake and connect to other backcountry trails.

The sandy beach in front of the Saddle Trail property, locally known as Hawaii Beach, offers unparalleled “beach” recreation and safe access  for boats and water taxis to transport park visitors. In fact, the hike to Grewingk Glacier is one of Homer’s most popular tourist activities and is a large economic driver for the region. On a busy summer day, water taxis drop off and pick up hundreds of tourists on the beach to hike the trail. But when the tide is high, Hawaii Beach is inundated, and visitors are confined to the staircase at the start of the Saddle Trail. If the Saddle Trail property is successfully donated to the State Park, this public access will be protected forever, and the park intends to reroute the start of the Saddle Trail to this property where more uplands are available for visitors.

“As a Homer resident, I can’t express how much Kachemak Bay State Park and this property mean to me. I want my family to be able to enjoy Hawaii Beach and the Saddle Trail property for years to come.”

—Chris Little, The Conservation Fund’s Alaska Associate

Those who visit Hawaii Beach also see evidence in the sand that unique history happened here. These old beach pilings reveal that the Saddle Trail property was home to a herring saltry in the early 1900s. During this time, Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet supported a bountiful herring fishery, attracting fleets from California and the Pacific Northwest. Protecting the Saddle Trail property will help to preserve this important history for Kachemak Bay.

Historic photo courtesy of the University of Alaska.


Tourism and recreation are essential to the economy of Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, so protecting and adding this property to the park has been a top priority. We were able to step in and purchase the property in January of 2022 and are actively raising funds to donate it to the State Park, keeping it protected and open for public access forever.

In order to protect this vital access point, we are working to raise $300,000 in private and public funds by August 2023 so we can then donate the property to the park by the end of 2023. Learn more about how you can support this effort today: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/halibutcoveak.