The community of Sterling is located just 10 miles away from the City of Soldotna and 29 miles away from the City of Kenai. Sterling has a total population of 5,045 people. In 1947 when Sterling was first opened for settlement it was called Naptowne. Sterling is a very popular place in the summer and is full of tourists that have an interest in sport fishing and hunting. Visitors can book guided fishing adventures and hunting trips. There are even cabins in Sterling that are available for rent; some are even within walking distance of the Kenai River. The Isaac Walton State campground is just one of the many campgrounds in the vicinity. The Isaac Walton State campground sits right at the junction of the Moose River and Kenai River and has tables, toilet facilities and a boat ramp for its guests. There are also numerous places for people in the area who want to explore the water to go canoeing.
The Moose River is located in the center of Sterling and is known for frequent sightings of moose. The Moose River is also a great birding area for migratory swans and sand hill cranes. The river is also one of the exits of the Swan Lake/Swanson River canoe trail system.
The small rural town of Sterling has great river access points to the famous Kenai River at Bing’s Landing State Recreational Park, Isaac Walton State Park and Morgan’s Landing State Park. The best kept local secret of Sterling is the Swan Lake/Swanson River Canoe trail system and public campgrounds. You can enjoy a day of just paddling around on the lakes or turn into a multi-day trip by looping all the way through the Moose River. There are several businesses in Sterling that specialize in canoe trips whether you just want to go for the day or for multi-day trips there are also canoe rentals too so you can go out and enjoy the peaceful and beautiful area alone.
Sterling is a great place that is able to accommodate all tourists. There are many local businesses spread out all throughout Sterling that include lodges, fish guides, flying services, RV parks, laundromat, cafes, gas stations, US Post Office, tackle shops, hair salon, bar, and antler carving shops.
Skilak Lake Loop road is just 10 miles east of Sterling and has Jim’s Landing which is a favorite spot to launch rafts for the Kenai River rapids canyon run and ends up in Skilak Lake. There is also a Lower Skilak boat launch and campground there too along with Hidden Lake campground (a local favorite).
There is an endless number of hiking trails between Sterling and Cooper Landing. Skyline Trail and Fuller Lakes Trail are the most popular trails to hike. There is also the Skilak Lookout Trail, Hideout Trail, Kenai River Trail and Hideout Trail is also popular trails. The Russian Lakes Trail goes down to the lower Russian Lake and is handicap-accessible and mountain bike easy. The Resurrection Trail takes hikers from Sterling all the way to Hope and has several forest service cabins along the way.
There is only one school out in Sterling and it is in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, the rest of the schools that people in Sterling attend are in the City of Soldotna. Sterling Elementary School is a public school that serves grades PK-6. Sterling Elementary received a distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 7 out of 10. Soldotna Middle school is a public school that serves grades 7-8. Soldotna Middle received a distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 9 out of 10. Soldotna High School is the closest high school to Sterling. Soldotna High serves grades 9-12 and received a distinguished GreatSchools Rating of 10 out of 10.