The 8 Best Alaska Lakes For Swimming

JT Fisherman/

Written by Patrick Sather

Updated: May 20, 2023

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If you ask most people, they probably won’t rank Alaska as a prime location for swimming. The state’s cold temperatures mean that outdoor swimming beaches attract only the bravest swimmers. That said, there are plenty of excellent swimming holes across the state that can help you cool off during the height of summer. Here are some of the best Alaska lakes for swimming. 

1. Goose Lake

Located in central Anchorage, Goose Lake ranks as the city’s most popular swimming spot in the summer. This small kettle lake is located right next to the University of Alaska, Anchorage. 

Goose Lake offers visitors plenty to do. You can rent a paddleboat or buy a snack from the nearby Paddleboat cafĂ©. From May to September, you can also enjoy views of Pacific loons nesting on the far side of the lake. 

It also boasts one of the only sand beaches in the immediate area. The swimming beach at Goose Lake features a playground for kids and access to nearby walking trails. It’s definitely one of the best Alaska lakes for swimming!

Goose Lake in Anchorage, Alaska

Goose Lake in Anchorage, Alaska.

2. Naked Man Lake

Naked Man Lake is a small lake located on Douglas Island within the city and borough of Juneau. You can reach the lake by taking a one-hour hike from the base of Eaglecrest Ski Area up to the top of Black Bear Chair. 

This remote lake offers incredible views of the surrounding scenery and almost no crowd. Unfortunately, there is no swimming beach or designated swimming area at the lake, so visitors swim at their own risk. That said, the lake’s gorgeous views and cool, clear water make it well worth the visit.  

Juneau, Douglas Island, Alaska.

3. Eagle Lake

Outside of the Eagle River, Alaska, lies one of two popular lakes, Eagle Lake. You can access Eagle Lake via the South Fork Eagle River Trail just 30 minutes to the north of Anchorage. The trail measures around 12 miles roundtrip, so plan accordingly if you want to visit this stunning lake. 

The trail to Eagle Lake offers lovely views of the nearby mountains and evergreen trees. Visitors should bring hiking gear and prepare for muddy and wet conditions on the ground. Don’t forget to bring your bear spray either, as bears are frequently sighted in the area. 

During the summer, feel free to take a dip in the seafoam green waters of Eagle Lake. The green color is not caused by bacteria but rather stems from the glacial minerals in the lake that flow into the water from nearby Flute Glacier.

Symphony and Eagle Lakes, Alaska.

4. Symphony Lake

Situated right next to Eagle Lake lies Symphony Lake. Together, these two lakes make up the Eagle and Symphony Lake system. Like Eagle Lake, you can access Symphony Lake via the Eagle River Trail. 

Unlike Eagle Lake, which appears seafoam green, Symphony Lake looks aquamarine blue, a characteristic that makes it one of the best Alaska lakes for swimming. The blue color comes from snowpack runoff from the nearby mountains. Also, like Eagle Lake, there is no beach on Symphony Lake, so feel free to swim wherever you like. Just make sure to plan accordingly and bring the right hiking supplies so you can get to the lake in the first place. 

5. Wasilla Lake

Wasilla Lake is a lake in the city of Wasilla in southern Alaska. The lake shares its name with nearby Wasilla Creek and got its name from railroad workers who built the Alaska Railroad.

On average, Wasilla Lake measures around 17 feet deep but boasts a maximum depth of 48 feet. The lake is a popular spot for both bank and boat fishing as well as jogging and picnicking.  

Wasilla Lake has around 4.4 miles of shoreline, which means visitors can choose plenty of places to swim. The city of Wasilla maintains Newcomb Park at Wasilla Lake. The park features a playground, restroom facilities, and a rentable pavilion. 

Wasilla Lake in Wasilla, Alaska.

6. Cropley Lake

Just a short trip from Naked Man Lake lies another of Juneau’s best swimming lakes, Cropley Lake. This small alpine lake is situated on Douglas Island, just 2 miles to the southwest of Table Top Mountain. Named after local miner Isaac Cropley, the lake serves as the source for Fish Creek.  

You can reach Cropley Lake via a 1.5-to-2-mile trail from the Eaglecrest Ski Area. The lake is naturally dammed and features a small population of Dolly Varden Trout. 

If you want to escape the summer heat in Juneau, then the hike to Cropley Lake is worth your visit. However, make sure to pack accordingly, and consider bringing life preservers or life jackets so you stay safe while swimming in the lake. 

Cropley Lake in Juneau, Alaska.

7. Auke Lake

Located near Auke Bay, Auke Lake is one of the most popular lakes in Juneau. This 160-acre lake is situated right next to the University of Alaska Southeast campus in the northwest corner of the city. In the Tlingit language, its name means “little lake.”  

Auke Lake supports a stable population of Dolly Varden, steelhead, and cutthroat trout, as well as several varieties of salmon. The awesome views around the lake one it one of the most photography spots in Juneau. In the winter, popular activities on the lake include skating, cross-country skiing, and curling. Meanwhile, in summer, people flock to the lake to paddle board, kayak, canoe, and swim. 

Auke Lake is a popular swimming spot for people training for triathlons or who just enjoy the great outdoors. It also features a pair of swimming platforms and a boat launch. Just make sure to keep an eye out for downed trees in the water when swimming in the lake. 

Auke Lake in Juneau, Alaska.

8. Chena Lake

Chena Lake is situated in the northeast corner of North Pole, Alaska. The Army Corps of Engineers created this 260-acre lake to help control flooding along the Chena River. 

Chena Lake resides within the 2,000-acre Chena Lake recreation area. The park features open woodlands, marshes, and open grasslands that serve as a habitat for various animals. Popular activities at the park include camping, boating, biking, and picnicking.   

The two designated swimming areas, complete with sandy beaches, make Chena Lake one of the best Alaska lakes for swimming. You can take a dip in the cold, clear water, or take advantage of one of the lake’s nearby amenities, including a playground, sand volleyball court, and horseshoe pit. 

Chena Lake at night in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Summary Of The 8 Best Alaska Lakes For Swimming

1Goose LakeCentral Anchorage
2Naked Man LakeDouglas Island within the city and borough of Juneau
3Eagle LakeEagle River
4Symphony LakeEagle River
5Wasilla LakeWasilla
6Cropley LakeJuneau
7Auke LakeJuneau
8Chena LakeNorth Pole

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