Anchorage Birding Guide – Cheney Lake Park

At a glance

SpringSummerFallWinter

Cheney Lake Park – Common Loon – May 21, 2015

Go here for

Ready access to Red-necked Grebes.  Decent chance at Common Loon and/or Pacific Loon.

Address

2245 Baxter Road, Anchorage, AK 99504

Latitude and Longitude

61.2003 north latitude, -149.7630 west longitude (61.2003, -149.7630)

Description

A beautiful lake surrounded by forest on the east side, the Chugach Range further on, and a very nice path that encircles the lake, Cheney Lake park offers a very low key location to whittle away an hour or two looking for Anchorage birds with good chances for Red-necked Grebes, Black-capped Chickadees, Hairy Woodpeckers, Boreal Chickadees with a fair chance for a Common or Pacific Loon in the spring.

 

Until 1972, this area was a gravel extraction site. It later became a man-made lake. During this time the area was used for swimming in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter. State funds were used to purchase additional land for this park in 1975. The park also received Land & Water Conservation Fund monies to help build trails and landscape the area. The lake is named for Roy Cheney who came to Alaska in 1942 to supervise military construction.

 

There is a nice picnic area on the northeast side of the park with picnic tables and access to a trail that runs the perimeter of the lake. The state of Alaska has a program called “Kids Don’t Float” that provides free loaner PFDs to encourage safe water practices, and there are several available here from the link. Even with small lakes such as this, hypothermia is a year round concern in Alaska. The picnic area is a great spot to begin your birding walk.

While probably not compliant with ADAAG, the western side of the lake has a trail that is probably more accessible than most are in Anchorage.

 

Tips on Birding

  • Take a complete hike around the lake on the trail

Area Habitats

Lake, Forest, Marsh

Look for These Birds

52 species including:  Pine Siskin, chickadee sp., Horned Grebe, Golden Eagle, Buteo sp., Sandhill Crane, Great Horned Owl, swallow sp., Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs, gull sp., Pine Grosbeak, Bohemian Waxwing, Downy/Hairy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Swainson’s Thrush, Green-winged Teal, White-crowned Sparrow, Common Raven, Rusty Blackbird, Common Merganser, Steller’s Jay, Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Common Redpoll, Downy Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, Alder Flycatcher, Pacific Loon, Cackling/Canada Goose, White-winged Scoter, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Spotted Sandpiper, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Belted Kingfisher, Tree Swallow, Bald Eagle, Western Sandpiper, Greater Scaup, Semipalmated Plover, Violet-green Swallow, Lesser Yellowlegs, Rock Pigeon, Greater Yellowlegs, Cackling Goose, Red-necked Grebe, Mew Gull, Herring Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-billed Magpie, American Wigeon, Bonaparte’s Gull, Canada Goose, Mallard, Common Loon

Rarities Seen Here

Horned Grebe, Golden Eagle, Rusty Blackbird, Pacific Loon, Common Loon

ebird Histogram of Bird Species at this Location

Birding Checklist at this Location

Birding Area Map

Directions

All directions in this guide are given from a point located at the intersection of East Northern Lights Boulevard and the New Seward Highway (AK-1)

  1. Head south on the New Seward Highway (AK-1) for 0.1 miles.
  2. Turn left onto Benson Boulevard and head east.
  3. Benson Boulevard turns into East Northern Lights Boulevard after 0.6 miles.
  4. Continue on East Northern Lights Boulevard for 3.2 miles.
  5. Turn left onto Baxter Road
  6. Baxter Road turns into Beaver Place, continue for 0.3 miles
  7. The Cheney Lake Park parking lot is on your right.

Interactive Map

A nice 1.4 mile walk around the lake offers looks views of waterfowl from the west side of the lake and forest species on the east side of the lake.  Generally speaking, birding Cheney Lake Park involves the following:

  1. Park at 2245 Baxter Road – location marked “Park” on the interactive map below.
  2. Walk to location “A” and glass for waterfowl.
  3. Walk to location “B” and glass for waterfowl.
  4. Walk to location “C” and glass for waterfowl.
  5. Walk to location “D” and glass for waterfowl.
  6. Walk to location “E”.
  7. Walk to location “F” and glass for waterfowl.
  8. Walk back to location “E”.
  9. Continue to location “G”.
  10. This marks where the trail enter the forest on the east side of the lake.
  11. Continue to location “H”, listening and watching for forest species.
  12. Continue to location “I”, listening and watching for forest species.
  13. Walk to location “J” and glass for waterfowl.
  14. Walk back to location “I”.
  15. Continue to location “K”, listening and watching for forest species.
  16. Return to location “A”.

Parking

There is a thirty (30) space parking lot at 2245 Baxter Road.

Fees

There are no fees associated with this spot.  This is a park maintained by the Municipality of Anchorage.

Hours

6:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Hazards

The Lake is spring fed, but there isn’t a lot of water change, so the water can get fairly dirty with frequent waterfowl visits in the spring.  The water isn’t fit for human consumption.

People like to walk and swim their dogs here, although there are few problems.

There is private property bordering the lake and trail so be mindful if venturing off the asphalt path or the well worn gravel path.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game stocks the lake with trout and salmon during some years, so Cheney Lake has become a favorite spot for neighbor hood locals to cast a line after work or on the weekend, so watch for hooks.

Again, seemingly very few problems.

Facilities

  • Parking lot with thirty (30) spaces
  • Portable restroom on site from May through September
  • Accessible play equipment for 2-5 year olds
  • Accessible play equipment for 5-12 year olds
  • Lighting ice skating on the lake in the winter

Carry your own water as there is not any potable water on site.

Contacts

Anchorage Park Foundation – (907) 343-4355

Links

 

Additional Photos

Cheney Lake Park – Mallard – April 30, 2012

 

Cheney Lake Park – Looking East – April 30, 2012

 

Cheney Lake Park – “Really Big Bird” (Elmendorf C-17 Globemaster III) – April 30, 2012

Cheney Lake Park – Playground Equipment- April 30, 2012

 

 

Author:  Keith Confer

Created:  April 16, 2017

Uploaded and made public:  April 16, 2017

Last update:  April 16, 2017

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