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Thread: Upper Russian and Aspen Cabins Access

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    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Default Upper Russian and Aspen Cabins Access

    Wanted to take the family (wife, and two boys) to the Upper Russian Lake or Aspen Cabin this year. In the past we have bicycled to Barber Cabin on the lower Russian but I'd like to go a little further. I reserved a night at Aspen Cabin the first week of JUN as these cabins are pretty popular and at only a $35 fee I figured it was worth the risk.

    For those that have traveled past Barber Cabin what is the trail like? Will we be able to continue on bicycles for awhile at least if not all the way to Aspen Cabin? And if anyone knows how the trail looks from Aspen to Upper Russian River Lake cabin I'd appreciate any reports. I suppose with this years snow I can expect to see snow if I can even get all the way back but at the rate of melting the past few weeks I have hopes for a family adventure.

    Thanks

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    I'm not sure which cabins are where, but i've biked from Cooper lake to the Russian River parking lot so it's all rideable.
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

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    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Aspen Cabin is about 8 miles for the Russian River Trail Head/parking lot. Upper Russian is about 12 miles and Barber is about 3.5 miles. The trail to barber is good enough that you can take a trailer behind your bike. From looking at the trail past Barber it gets a little narrower, mostly concerns about my boys at 8 and 11 years old ability to handle the trails. But if it gets too bad we will just turn around and head out or stash the bikes and walk in.

    Thanks

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default upper russian

    I was up there last friday.
    the trail from Aspen to Upper russian is almost level and follows the stream keeping to the East side of the valley.
    It is easy going all the way. The problem I can see would be tree's over the trail.
    they probably clean them all off come summer, but right now lots of down timber accross the trail.
    They are remodeling the Upper russian cabin this summer. New logs and I hope a new floor. that cabin needs a lot of work. not a real good place for winter travel.
    the Aspen Flats cabin is made similar to the Barber cabin with wood floor and has double pane windows etc. Much nicer cabin than the Upper russian cabin.
    Many of the windows on the upper cabin are broken out. The floor is old heaved up Cement that is cracked and uneven. wall mounted table is on a 9 to 10 % grade also..
    I would prefer a tent over that place.
    I could see stars thru the un- chinked logs, and around three sides of the door. An ermine walked under the door and never even touched a hair.
    At 3 am, I was happy I had my wiggy bag as the temp dipped fast as the venturi effect of this cabin along with the Cement floor being about -40 degrees sucks the heat out of that place fast. Ambient outside was only around 10 degrees, but it felt much colder in the cabin,,lol
    My son asked me "When do you you think our $35 bucks is going to kick in Dad".. lol .. we talked about bringing along a hired hand next trip to sit and feed sticks into the little stove all night...
    I know this is a rant, but my feeling is that if you are going to charge people for something, it needs to be worth something..
    I would be embarrassed to charge someone for a place like that .

    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, seems they are always making improvements to the cabins. Been to a few in SE Alaska where we spent a couple of hours a day either working on the stove or patching some stuff up. And been in some with new stoves in great condition. Glad to hear they are fixin the upper one up, seems they have a plan to make it a nice place.

    Thanks Again

    Dean

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    Me and two friends hiked the entire ressurection river trail from russian to exit glacier last year a couple days before the two bikers got stuck at the washed out creek. The train from the parking lot all the way to upper russian is definatly bikeable. As I mentioned before, the people that got stuck at the creek 7 or 8 miles past the Upper Russian cabin were also biking, but I would not advise. I suspect the spent a lot of time off thier bikes due to windfell trees over the trail every 20 yards of so. If you just wanted to go to the Upper Russian Lake cabin it would be a really nice trip. I think the only time you would have to get off and walk it would be through some old avalanche shoots, but there are only a couple and none of them are more than 50 or so yards wide. On a side note, we got charged by an cow moose when we were at Upper Russian, I know this doesnt happen often but if you have some protection it has always been worth the weight for me, even when staying at cabins. Hope you have a great trip, Upper Russian lake is beautiful.

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    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information, and I always take my shotgun on these bike trips with the family. We've been into Barber cabin twice with our kids, both times first part of June, usually hit a snow chute on the way into Barber. I think you could easily take a wheel chair into Barber cabin though.

  8. #8

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    Dear Dean: When traveling to Upper Russian Lake be sure to go before the cow parsnip grow too large. I've been up that trail on bikes with my son in early June no problem. July and August are almost impassable. That stretch of trail from Lower Russian Lake to Upper Russian Lake presents few real challenges other than poor or no maintenance. Relatively gentle, rolling, up and down hill sections - but it is a long ride - always has seemed longer than 12 miles from trailhead on the Kenai River to Upper Russian. Aspen flats is just that - flat and open, at least for the last couple miles.

    The cow parsnip issue is no joke. The last 2 or 3 miles of trail prior to reaching Upper Russian are completely obscured by vegetation in mid-summer, you literally cannot see the trail ahead or your feet beneath you. The nuisance is made worse because cow parsnip causes a rash on many people when they slap against bare skin. Expect little or no trail maintenance. When the brush grows big in mid-summer, the trail disappears.

    Forest Service personnel are pretty much coasting along on the effort and hard work of the folks who filled their shoes in the 50's and 60's when Forest Service actually spent time in the field and accomplished something for their wages. Most of the trails were established long ago and today receive scant attention from the petty bureaucrats and environmental obstructionists who fill the Forest Service ranks. This is obvious to those of us who have watched the change over the years. I backpacked that trail several times in the 1970's and it was 4 feet wide with the bogs graveled and bridged and brush cleared and they accomplished this with far fewer Forest Service employees with little or no budget to work off of. They were hikers and ex-loggers and timber cruisers and surveyors i.e. men that knew how to work and sweat and had a connection to the out of doors and took pride in their effort.

    Tommy

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    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, I have seen one of the reports of the cabins they want to close in the next few years in Alaska and it sickens me to think of them closing.

    Years ago I worked for MT Fish Wildlife and Parks and we did some pretty amazing maintenace on some trails in my mind, with not too much manpower or time. To inlude hauling in cement for Lewis and Clark Caverns and we were not making much above minimum wage.

    Best job I ever had but my normal days were spent as a tour guide making people laugh and educating them about the park and Montana. Pay was not very good but enough to supplement the summers between college semesters.

  10. #10
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    Default Trail to Aspen Cabin

    Just got back from an overnight trip to Aspen Cabin. Not a bad trail although the kids were showing some wear at the 7 mile mark as there is a little up hill will rocks and mud on the way in. Not bad and the boys did great as they are only 8 and 11 and great troopers at pushing when not riding their bikes.

    On the way in at about the five mile mark I biked around the corner and a huge brownie sow was making her way to the trail, once she saw me she stopped and I drew the hand gun. A few moments later her very blonde cub came out of the brush above her. Glad she had not crossed the trail yet as I would have hated to be between her and her cub. This brown was Alaska Zoo big brown, larger than the near 9 foot I shot a few years back and she had a beautiful hide.

    One the way out at about 2 miles from Aspen Cabin we came across a black bear in the trail, the other side of her were a group of bikers who had met her the other way. She seemed confused but calm when she was in between two sets of bikers. Anyway as it was slightly down hill to us and they had 6 or 7 in their group the bear started to make her way towards us. At 12 or 15 yards I put a shot in front of her to scare her, un-dazed she stopped then after awhile finally left the trail where she stopped about 12 or so yards off the trail, needless to say we did not wait and made our way past the black bear and out down the trail.

    At about 4 miles from the Cabin we were face to face with a cow moose as she wondered down the trail, we moved to the side then she busted through the brush.

    Wonder if a guy can hunt blacks now in this area, wife could have easily shot this one with the pistol but we were enjoying the trip and adventure with the boys and hunting was not on our agenda.

    Next year we are set on biking into the Upper Russian, as this is the farthest we have went up the trail does anyone know of the conditions from the Aspen Cabin trail split to the Russian. We really enjoy our cabin trips with the boys and so do they.

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    Default Trip Pic

    Pic of the boys after reaching the cabin. Thanks USFS for great places like this to visit.
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