Birch Lake, Alaska, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Alaska - Interior -

Birch Lake, along the Richardson Highway near Salcha in Alaska’s Interior, is a fantastic fishing spot and very accessible. Tucked in among some of the Interior’s most majestic mountains, Birch Lake is a great Alaska getaway.

Birch Lake is one of the four road-accessible lakes within a two hour drive of Fairbanks. The lakes, which include Harding Lake, Chena Lake, and Quartz Lake, are along an 80 mile stretch of the Richardson Highway that extends from Delta Junction to the town of North Pole. The highway was Alaska’s first road and was used by gold seekers as early as 1898 to travel from Valdez to Eagle. By 1902 the Gold Rush expanded travel to Fairbanks, and by the early 1920’s the Richardson Highway was improved to meet automobile standards. The road was further improved to a hard surface in 1957 and passes through one of Alaska’s most accessible areas. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline which carries oil 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Port Valdez follows the highway, and there are formal viewing points near Birch Lake.

The road accessibility of Birch Lake in the Tanana River Drainage makes it a very easy place to fish. The lake was first stocked by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in 1966 with rainbow trout. Since then the lake has been stocked with Coho (silver) salmon, grayling, and artic char. There are also chub, slimy sculpin, and Chinook or king salmon. In the spring the fishing from the shore of Birch Lake is exceptional, and in summer the boat fishing is better.

There are public boat launches on Birch Lake. The Birch Lake State Recreation Area has a boat launch along with a campground and campground host. There are lakeside picnic tables, fire pits, and restrooms. The Birch Lake Military Recreation Site, a USAF Recreation Camp, is on the same access road just beyond the State Recreation Area. Wildlife viewing is very good, and the moose are plentiful.

Birch Lake is very near a glaciated area and bordered to the south by the Alaska Range. With mountain peaks in excess of 11,000, 12,000, and even 13,000 feet, the Alaska Range is a beautiful backdrop to the lake, and there are ample recreation opportunities including “flight seeing” or sight seeing by plane and various winter sports. Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, is in the Alaska Range.

Salcha is the town nearest Birch Lake, and it has shopping, restaurants and various accommodations. Birch Lake is also only about 50 miles from Fairbanks, however, so any amenities a visitor could want are within an easy drive. Fairbanks is the largest city in Alaska’s Interior and the second largest city, behind Anchorage, in the state. Started as a Gold Rush camp, Fairbanks has a rich history and plenty of cultural opportunities to explore.

With its easy accessibility, fantastic fishing, and abundant wildlife, Birch Lake is a great Alaska getaway. Its proximity to the amenities and cultural opportunities of Fairbanks make it a good choice for the entire family. Set against the backdrop of the Alaska Range in Alaska’s majestic Interior, Birch Lake and its neighboring lakes provide the quintessential Alaskan fishing experience.

Things to do at Birch Lake AK

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Birch Lake AK

  • Carp
  • Char
  • Chinook Salmon
  • Grayling
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sculpin
  • Trout

Birch Lake AK Photo Gallery

Birch Lake AK Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 808 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 823 feet

Maximum Depth: 49 feet

Lake Area-Population: 953

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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