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Thread: Surprise creek trail across from Jims landing on the KP

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    Member 0321Tony's Avatar
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    Default Surprise creek trail across from Jims landing on the KP

    I am wanting to hike up the surprise creek trail that starts across the river from Jims landing in Cooper landing. I have seen the trail on the map and herd of people doing the hike but my question is where exactly is the trail head is it up down or straight across from Jims and is it marked. Thanks for the info
    Tony

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    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    Per the land manager and maintainers of the trail:

    Trailhead:
    The Surprise Creek Trailhead can be reached only by boat. The closest boat launch is at Jim’s Landing (onSkilak Lake Road .1 mile from the east entrance junction with the Sterling Highway) on the Kenai River. This portionof the Kenai River is CLOSED to powerboats. The Kenai River can be extremely swift and dangerous. The trailheadis directly across the river from Jim’s Landing boat ramp, approximately 50 yards up a slough. River crossings for
    both directions must be at least 50 yards upstream of the landing.

    http://www.fws.gov/filedownloads/ftp...priseCreek.pdf

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    Is it called Surprise Ck. because of all the bears???
    Just wondering.

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    The real answer to the reason behind the name Surprise Creek may only be known by an oldtimer named Steve Melchior but since he passed away a long time ago I will venture a guess and say Surprise Creek was so named because someone was surprised to find it pay out with a little gold digging.

    "Jim’s Landing — As historian Gary Titus once pointed out, the name of this boat launch, located just above the Kenai River canyon, should more properly be “Jims” (without the apostrophe) or “Jims’” (with the apostrophe after the “s”) because there was more than one Jim. According to mining historian Mary Barry, “Big Jim” O’Brien and “Little Jim” Dunmire prospected for a while in Cooper Landing before settling in the late 1930s on a Surprise Creek claim operated previously by Steve Melchior. In fact, the boat launch used to be called Melchior’s Landing. The partners worked their claims there for more than 30 years, and reported finding placer gold in a quantity enough to keep them interested."
    http://redoubtreporter.wordpress.com...ifficult-task/

    I know Steve Melchior used to trap too and had a cabin up the Killey river. Its referenced in a book called Hunting in the Arctic and Alaska published 1914.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=ELM...0cabin&f=false

    He's buried in Seward.
    E15. Steven Melchior
    1848 - Mar 2, 1933
    (Unmarked. Name and dates from
    KM data)
    http://files.usgwarchives.net/ak/ken...eward-city.txt

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    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    A photo of Steve Melchior when he was getting up there in age, probably taken in the 1920's, hauling feed for his pet moose near Seward. This is a cool photo and embodies the unique characters and way of life on early Kenai Peninsula. And really the whole territory of Alaska...

    stevemelchior.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by 0321Tony View Post
    I am wanting to hike up the surprise creek trail that starts across the river from Jims landing in Cooper landing. I have seen the trail on the map and herd of people doing the hike but my question is where exactly is the trail head is it up down or straight across from Jims and is it marked. Thanks for the info
    Tony

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    I've been up there a number of times over the years. The trail is in fact almost straight across from the Jim's Landing launch. There is kind of an island, ( I'm thinking when the water is high which it's been every time I've been there) on the other side of the Kenai. The trail head is tucked back in a little on the downstream end of the island. You really can't tell it's an island looking across from Jim's.

    Depending on what you're using to cross the Kenai, you will indeed need to start upstream a bit as the swift current will take you downstream quick. If you are in a raft then start up as high as you can....about as high as where the road comes into Jim's and the campsites. If you are crossing in a canoe you probably don't have to start as high. If you happen to come in high though on the other side before the end of the island, just get in close and grab a hold of the overhanging alders and such and work yourself down to the end of the island and to the trail. It would be a lot easier just to come in on the upstream end of the island, but the alders and such are too thick to be able to raft or canoe through there. You really can't miss the trail as it's pretty wide and comes right down to the water. It used to be marked but I don't know if it still is.

    Be aware that just below the trail head not far at all when the current is taking you, there are some rapids and a sharp corner. Years ago a friend of mine didn't make it across quick enough in his raft and hit a sweeper on that corner which capsized them. They survived, but lost all their gear. The last time I came across from the trail towards Jim's, we were heavy and the raft had lost a bit of air. Believe me, we were rowing for all we were worth to get across and stay above those rapids. We made it with a bit of room to spare, but not much. So be careful...!!!

    When you get up the trail a bit (not very far), you will come across a large piece of old mining machinery. The trail will split there and one will head off to the left a short distance. This will lead you to a nice little cabin. Hopefully it's still there as it's been quite a few years since I've been up there. It was in great shape when we left it last.

    Have fun...!!!
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Thanks guys for the info I am hoping for good weather on my next week off i would like to see what's up there.

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    Hi 4merguide,

    I know the area down there fairly well and know the island, but I have never gotten out to check this trail. When you last were at the cabin was it suitable to overnight in, or just fun to explore. Also on some maps I see the trail goes further back on surprise creek and there is a cabin marked further back up the mountain. Have you ever gone back beyond this area. Thanks for sharing the info you have so far, we love to explore some of these old mining claims, and equipment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 0321Tony View Post
    Thanks guys for the info I am hoping for good weather on my next week off i would like to see what's up there.

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2
    We will need a full report upon your return.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rkinak View Post
    Hi 4merguide,

    ..... was it suitable to overnight in, or just fun to explore.
    Last time I was there it was the latter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    We will need a full report upon your return.
    That post was in 2012...I hope he has returned by now...

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    Send out the Cavalry. He's overdue.
    All jokes aside. I report in when I'm heading out. Usually with my son, unless he is going. Almost always report back when I return. I hate those late night phone calls. "Hey dad, did you close your flight/float/hike plan?"
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeRoss View Post
    We will need a full report upon your return.
    Just made it back.
    It was a horrible trip, wild savages with spears, Devils club, cliffs that appear out of nowhere, the trail is in terrible shape and the river is impossible to cross and if I was anyone else I wouldn't try it. Oh and the cabin is haunted

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    Sounds fun.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Hi Tony, just wondering if you did actually have any luck with this trail and would love any info if you'd be willing to share. Thanks in advance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rkinak View Post
    Hi 4merguide,

    I know the area down there fairly well and know the island, but I have never gotten out to check this trail. When you last were at the cabin was it suitable to overnight in, or just fun to explore. Also on some maps I see the trail goes further back on surprise creek and there is a cabin marked further back up the mountain. Have you ever gone back beyond this area. Thanks for sharing the info you have so far, we love to explore some of these old mining claims, and equipment.
    It's been many years since I've been up there, and it seems that "fuhrerak", (if it is the same cabin he's speaking about that's not far up the trail), says it's not any good anymore. Fuhrerak....is this the cabin where at that big piece of old equipment a trail branches off to the left (going up) and it's only a few yards back in there? If so, and if it's not in good shape anymore it would surprise me, because it was in great shape before....good roof too if I remember. But it only takes a hole here and there from a falling branch to change things pretty quick....and it was very thick around the cabin. I also remember the remnants of an old cabin not far from the good cabin. Maybe that was the one fuhrerak was thinking of?

    "Rkinak"....yes I've been all the way back up to the top and all over those mountains. Never did see another cabin back up the mountain a ways. Both cabins I'm speaking of were in fairly close proximity to each other and not yet above tree line. Even though you saw where it shows one on a map, it doesn't surprise me that it would be gone. I've looked for, and found cabins shown on maps and they've long since turned to rubble. A lot of the maps we use were made waaaaay back when and desperately need to be updated.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    I too have wanted to get over there. Looks like a great hike on paper anyway. Does any agency clear it or no?
    For those who raft over during the salmon runs i have seen numerous bears lurking in the alders and grass in the area over the years. Make a lot of noise

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    The cabin I speak of is indeed off to the left of the trail (with old piping and random equipment). The last time I was up that way was maybe 5 years ago though. The cabin was in rough shape and not really hospitable. I don't recall a second cabin.

    Lots of bears.
    Lots of current.....don't get sucked down the canyon!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rkinak View Post
    Hi Tony, just wondering if you did actually have any luck with this trail and would love any info if you'd be willing to share. Thanks in advance.


    The trail is in pretty good shape but I've never looked for the cabin. It's beautiful up there.
    I don't know if I'd take an inflatable boat across and Hine up as you may come back to something resembling a chew toy. Lots of brown bears on the bottom

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    Thanks for sharing info guys. I'm going to check it out at some point this summer, and Ill report back some info and pictures on what I come across.

    Thanks

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