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Harding Lake is the largest, deepest, and most easily reached of the four road-accessible lakes within two hours of Fairbanks (Birch Lake, Quartz Lake, and Chena Lake are the others). Located 45 miles from Fairbanks near Salcha in Alaska's Interior, Harding Lake is a rapidly improving sport fishery, and its accessibility makes it a popular Alaska destination.
Harding Lake in the Tanana River Valley is a spring-fed lake. In addition, the lake has two inlets including one from 52-acre Little Harding Lake. There is no outlet from Harding Lake into a river or other lake. Although most lakes in the Tanana River Valley, including Little Harding Lake, are ringed and in some cases covered with lily pads, there are not any on Harding Lake. About fifty percent of the lake's shoreline is developed with cabins and private residences.
Because of its size, accessibility and proximity to Fairbanks, a deliberate decision was made to improve the sport fishing on Harding Lake. Northern pike and burbot are indigenous to the lake, and there are also healthy populations of lake trout, artic char, and salmon. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game began stocking the lake in 1956 with rainbow trout and steelhead. Most recently the lake has been stocked extensively with artic char. Pike fishing is currently closed on Harding Lake, but fishing for lake trout, burbot, and artic char is exceptional. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also stocks Little Harding Lake with rainbow trout, artic char and Coho salmon.
Road access to Harding Lake is from three roads that connect to the Richardson Highway with access also through the Harding Lake State Recreation Area. Established in 1967, the Recreation Area has a campground managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with a campground host, restrooms, picnic areas and nature trails. There are boat launches, and Harding Lake is popular for motor boats and jet skis.
Nearby Salcha has restaurants, shopping, and various accommodations. Less than an hour from Harding Lake, Fairbanks is the largest city in Alaska's Interior, and behind Anchorage the second largest city in the state. Fairbanks got its start as a gold rush town and has a rich history. There were several gold rushes in Alaskan history from its discovery in 1880 at Juneau through the early 1900's. The Tanana Valley gold fields were some of the most productive, however, and directly led to the growth of Fairbanks. Any amenities a visitor could want can be found there along with cultural and recreation opportunities.
Harding Lake's neighbor lakes, Birch Lake, Chena Lake, and Quartz Lake are also exceptional fishing and recreation spots. Located along the Richardson Highway on an 80 mile stretch from Delta Junction to the town of North Pole, the lakes are very accessible and a great way to expand a visit to Harding Lake.
The easy accessibility and abundant fish populations combine to make Harding Lake an exceptional Alaska getaway. Add the beauty of Alaska's interior, the rich history and amenities of Fairbanks, plus the recreational offerings of Harding Lake and its neighbors, for a trip that is sure to please everyone.
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