Kayaking in Alaska usually conjures up images of calving glaciers, breaching whales and miles of desolate coastline. For a little more placid experience, the city of Anchorage has several lakes easily accessible to novice paddlers that can provide a nice escape from the confines of the city.
Cheney Lake is located in East Anchorage near Elmendorf Air Force Base. It is a rather small lake but provides an ideal paddling location for early season outings and a great spot to introduce newcomers to canoeing or kayaking.
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 Dont Float" that provides free loaner PFDs to encourage safe boating 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 launch and have a post-paddle snack.
Take your time paddling around this small, yet beautiful lake. Be sure to bring a camera, bird field guide and binoculars, as it is common to spot Mergansers, Grebes, Bald Eagles, Pacific and Common Loons and Kingfishers here. In fact, if you paddle to the center of the lake and just drift, you will likely be rewarded with images of approaching birds. Speaking of birds, keep your eye in the sky for glimpses of the F-22 raptor a new fighter assigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base.
Up here in Alaska, the paddling season is rather short. In the winter, Cheney Lake is a great spot for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice-skating.
The small lakes here in Anchorage are ideal for a quick lunch-hour or after dinner paddle to enjoy the spectacular summers of Alaska.
Cheney Lake Park is run by the city of Anchorage and is open from 6AM-11PM. There is usually plenty of parking by the picnic area.
The access of Cheney Lake is off of DeBarr Road. Turn onto Beaver Place, and proceed down about 1/2 mile. Parking for Cheney Lake Park will be on your left.