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Thread: Ride to Kennicott/McCarthy???

  1. #1
    Member skydiver_99654's Avatar
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    Default Ride to Kennicott/McCarthy???

    I have a friend visiting in a coupla weeks and was thinkin' about hauling the wheelies out to Chitina and taking the road all the way into McCarthy by way of ATV. I'm looking for advice. I've never driven more than 10 miles on that road in a F150 (me teeth rattled outta my skull). I'm wondering where, or even if, I should park the wheelies on my way out to the Kennicott mine? Is there a safe place to store them for a few hours while I go look at the mine? Vandalism rampant in that area? Yank the spark plugs outta the wheelies while we take a walk? Etc......
    Thank you in advance for any info at all on doing this little side trip.
    Johnny

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    There is about 40 miles of road back to the bridge, and parking lots there. Visitors can't drive road vehicles on that narrow bridge. (There's a private bridge elsewhere so that the residents can get across the river). Then, you could ride the ATVs across that bridge and the 4 or so miles to Kennecott. At Kennecott itself, there are several stores and a hotel in the "ghost town". Otherwise, you need to bike, walk, or hire a taxi to get you to and from the mine.

    So, if I were you, I'd plan on taking the ATVs all the way back to Kennecott, instead of dropping them off somewhere along the route. There is a private campground on a lake about 10 miles down the Edgerton where you MIGHT be able to store them briefly.

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    Member EricL's Avatar
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    I am leaving for Kennicott first thing in the morning. Taking the Grizz. I'll let you know what I find. I won't be back until the end of the week. EricL

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    Default Last June

    My wife and two boys and I did the trip on quads. Thet had recently graded the road so they were'nt really needed, but my wife and her girlfriend had gone the previous year and the drove my motorhome all the way to the bridge at a claimed 5 mph, I dont think the rv will ever be the same again! Anyway about last year, we unloaded at Chitna and rode to the bridge planning on camping in the little campground there, and just getting a ride to the mine, but they had taken the post out of the bridge and allowed us to ride the quads all the way to the mine, we then went and camped on the glacial flats.
    If I remember right that road washed out in several places a couple of weeks after we were there, taking a couple of bridges with it. If you make it be sure and have dinner in McCarthy I cant remember the name, but you wont have any trouble finding it!

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    We parked the truck at Silver Lake Campground and hauled a meat trailer with our camping gear another 50 miles into McCarthy. We camped at the campground on the right about 3/4 miles before the river. We were able to ride our atvs across the bridge and all through town. Also rode to the mine site, misnamed as it is really the ore processing site which is today Nat'l park. Rode there and beyond way up the mountain towards the actuall mines. Ok time but a lot noisy drunks on 4th of July.

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    Premium Member bmunsell's Avatar
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    Since its in the same area, has anyone ever tried to ride down the Copper to Cordova on the old railroad right of way?

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    Member skydiver_99654's Avatar
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    Default I work....

    Quote Originally Posted by bmunsell View Post
    Since its in the same area, has anyone ever tried to ride down the Copper to Cordova on the old railroad right of way?
    I work with a lady who has made most of that trip, at least a coupla times. I'll try to remember to ask her tomorrow to log on and give you some advice.
    Johnny


    Also...thanks everyone for your input. So, it sounds like I'll be able to ride the wheelies across the foot bridge? Or is there another bridge that I need to find? Is the bridge gated? Sorry, for all the questions, but I've never been up that way, and its only 3 weeks away.
    Thanks again,
    Johnny

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    As of a couple of years ago, the footbridge was ok to cross, they had it purposelly narrowed down to about 50" wide. Was ok for an atv to cross, just let the foot traffic cross first. The other bridge I understand is private and very expensive to cross.

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    Member EricL's Avatar
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    Default Just back from Kennecott Mine

    Well, I got snowed out on the Denali after going to McCarthy. Anyway, the McCarthy road is in pretty good shape. The first 10 miles and the last 10 miles are the worst but not too bad. The bridges are passable on wheelers and you can ride right to the mine. You are able to ride around town if you wish. Just respect their posted speed limits. The folks seem very nice and are willing to answer any questions you may have. If you camp on the west side of the bridges (as I did) you will have to pay the lady who's office is in the pickup camper right at the first bridge. Her name is Mrs. Siren.

    You can actually ride the wheelers right through the mine to get to the trailheads that go to Root Glacier, Bonanza Mine, and Jumbo Mine. You can get the machine quite a ways up the trail that goes to Bonanza. That trail is 4.5 miles but you can go about 2 miles on the machine. The trail to the glacier is blocked to machines.

    They had some signs up informing of a problematic black bear so be aware.

    The weather I had wasn't the best. I had cloudy and a little rain. Not the best for photography. Hope you have better weather.

    Would you believe I had some folks ask me where the gas station was!!?? Said they just left Valdez and only had 6 gal of gas left. I told them to turn around and drive 60 miles and they will find the gas station. I asked them if they did any research before making a trip like this maybe using the Milepost and they asked me what a Milepost was!! Oh, well....EricL

  10. #10

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    As others have said, you can ride an ATV across the brigde and all the way up to the mine buildings. You can park the ATV in Kennicott and no one will bother it while you walk around and check things out (don't park in the turn-around for the shuttle vans).

    Much of the easily accessable land around there is private. There are several campgrounds on the west side of the Kennicott river. None that I know of on the east side.

    And there are NO gas stations. Last gas is Chitna, carry what you need to make it round trip from there.

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    Basically, if you need it, take it with you. The only thing to buy there is food at a restraunt. We forgot our BBQ tols and had to manufacture a spatula out of pop cans and a willow stick, very creative that weekend. They would not let you leave any garbage at the campground, we were told to take it with us.

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    Member Rod in Wasilla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockHound View Post
    They would not let you leave any garbage at the campground, we were told to take it with us.
    As it should be everywhere, IMHO. You packed it in, you can pack it out...
    Quote Originally Posted by northwestalska
    ... you canít tell stories about the adventures you wished you had done!

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    Yeah, we had no problem with the garbage, it was the new empty styrofoam ice chest we bought in Glennallen for ice. We did finally talk them into taking that, otherwise I would have had to break it up due to lack of room on the meat trailer. BTW, they had hot showers at the campground! That was nice!

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    OK, stupid question time. Can you not drive a 4X4 truck from Chitina to Kennecott/McCarthy?? This was one of the places I wanted to hit on a long weekend this summer.

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    You can drive to almost McCarthy, then if you got $500 or whatever he charges, you cross the private bridge into McCarthy. It would be easier to park in a campround just outside McCarthy and pay to get a ride into McCarthy and 5 miles further to Kennicott.

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    Note:
    I asked somebody in McCathy, and IF I remember correctly, the privately owned bridge is soooooo costly, the tour companies and residents wait untill the river is frozen solid and then they drive their vans, trucks, and heavy equipment over into McCarthy.

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockHound View Post
    Note:
    I asked somebody in McCathy, and IF I remember correctly, the privately owned bridge is soooooo costly, the tour companies and residents wait untill the river is frozen solid and then they drive their vans, trucks, and heavy equipment over into McCarthy.

    Wow. Some guy charges that much money for people to cross his bridge as the only access point to the town?!?!? What a grade-A loser. So when hikers drive in to backpack the Wrangells, do they just drive to some turnaround point just shy of that bridge, and walk the rest of the way?
    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by northernalberta View Post
    Wow. Some guy charges that much money for people to cross his bridge as the only access point to the town?!?!? What a grade-A loser. So when hikers drive in to backpack the Wrangells, do they just drive to some turnaround point just shy of that bridge, and walk the rest of the way?
    Thanks
    There are two bridges. The "public" bridge, which is only wide enough for an ATV or to walk across, and I don't think there is any kind of toll. Then, somewhere downstream a bit is a private bridge, large enough for full-sized vehicles to cross--this is the pricier one.

  19. #19

    Default Not a loser

    You're coming way late to the party and then making a snap judgement on what you see.

    Some history. Not that long ago there were no bridges across the Kennicott. Just a cable tram that you climbed in with your stuff and pulled yourself across. The State of Alaska decided that they would replace the cable tram with a brigde and asked the community what kind of bridge they wanted. The issue became contentous - some wanted much better access, some wanted to keep it hard to limit development.

    In the end, the state built a foot bridge (2 actually) across the river. They installed bollards (poles) at each end to prevent you from driving anything motorized across. Someone cut the bollards down so you could cross it with an ATV. The state put new bollards up. Someone cut them down again. This went on for a while and the state finally gave up. I believe it is still technically illegal to drive an ATV across the bridge but I've never heard of anyone being busted for it. The bridge is simply too narrow for a regular road vehicle.

    Now, a couple of years ago, a gentleman who does a lot of work on the east side of the river decided that he needed to be able to drive across in the summer. So he went and bought land on both sides of the river, applied for, paid for, and got a permit to install a piling in the middle of the river. And, then spent $150,000 building his OWN bridge capable of supporting a fully loaded truck.

    Knowing that allowing every Tom, Dick, and Harry to drive over there for the weekend would reek havac on the few roads over there, but wanting to be fair and recover some of his costs for the bridge, he does allow you to buy the right to cross his bridge. Last year it was $250 for a regular vehicle for a whole year. If you own property over there it isn't a bad deal. If you are there just for the weekend it is a bad deal. And that's how it is supposed to be.

    So, you can drive to the end of the road, park and walk in to McCarthy (or drive an ATV) for free (the walking not the parking). Or, you can pay $250 and drive into McCarthy as often as you want for the rest of the year. Or, you could buy your own land and build your own bridge. You decide.

  20. #20
    Member Superx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by northernalberta View Post
    Wow. Some guy charges that much money for people to cross his bridge as the only access point to the town?!?!? What a grade-A loser. So when hikers drive in to backpack the Wrangells, do they just drive to some turnaround point just shy of that bridge, and walk the rest of the way?
    Thanks
    Let me get this straight.

    A private individual designs, builds, maintains, and operates the only vehicle bridge in a remote national park over a raging glacier river and allows others access to his bridge for a fee. The users have the option of paying his fee or not. Why would you consider him a loser? He's providing a service the govt is not. More power to him.

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