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Thread: Upper Eagle River

  1. #1
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    Default Upper Eagle River

    Does anyone have a report on the Upper Eagle River?

    My wife and I are new to rafting but have been on a few trips this year on the Upper Kenai. We are looking for an easy river closer to Anchorage to float during the week, and the Upper Eagle River (above the bridge) is very appealing to us. But having never done it, I'm not sure if it is currently too low to run with a 14' Trib.

    Thanks in advance for the input!

  2. #2

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    I floated it for first time several weeks ago. Water was low but there was plenty of room to maneuver. No sweepers or strainers. Water has come up some since then. The take out is very clearly marked with large sign on down river left so now worries about missing it.

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    Thanks for the report!

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    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    RiverGuy,

    Where did you put in upstream? I've floated Eagle River several times over the past few years and here's what I've found:

    If putting in at the "North Fork" parking lot (during low water conditions), we've had to drag quite a bit, until we (re)join the main river channel.

    This "North Fork" really isn't a Fork at all. The main channel of Eagle River splits apart a little ways upstream of the "North Fork" parking lot, and the smaller portion of the river that goes off to the right-hand side, happens to be closer to Eagle River Road than the main channel. So, the Chugach State Park folks, built a convenient access point there. Once you start paddling, this smaller portion will re-join the main channel again, after a mile or so. The land just across this "North Fork" is actually a large island that's located between the main channel of ER and this "North Fork" that has temporarily wandered off to the right.

    I (and others) often like to drive about a mile farther out Eagle River Road, past the "North Fork" parking area, until coming to a wide spot in the road, that comes next to the main channel of Eagle River, upstream of the afore mentioned "North Fork" split. (There's been a big water tank located there during the recent road construction, that the tanker trucks use for spraying the road to keep dust down.) While not as nice of a parking area, you can avoid that "North Fork" dragging, during low water conditions.

    The only problem is (or was?), just downstream and out of sight from this upstream main channel put-it spot, is (was) a big log-jam that sometimes blocks the whole river. Sometimes you can sneak through, sometimes you have to portage around. But, you need to be ready for it, and choose quickly. This log-jam is where a couple of folks from Montana lost there lives a year of so ago in a canoe!

    As always, be prepared: to manuever, or accept some dragging. Dave

    PS - Several river miles later, the true "South Fork of the Eagle River" joins from the left. The clear water of the South Fork hosts some wild salmon runs and is one of the few parts of the ER watershed that is open to fishing (see regulations of course).
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

  5. #5

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    I put in above north fork parking lot as at the time north fork was a trickle. I put in right where the river cones next to the road and there is a little pullout. Where they keep the water tank for construction. I didn't see a log jam do not sure if it is gone or I out in below it

    Steve

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    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    Floated from the "water tank roadside" to the Briggs Bridge area myself this weekend. Low water overall, but, no real issues. The log-jam that I referenced above has deteriorated until it only blocks the right side of the river. The small amount of water that trickles under it, eventually leads to the "North Fork" parking area. To the left, the main channel is easily passable. Several other rafters reported that the North Fork put-in is totally unusable due to lack of water. Everyone is using the put-in further upstream at the water tank.
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    We kayaked from the North Fork access (mile 7.5?) to the first bridge on Sunday. The slough at the put-in is litterally a trickle, and we drug out boats as much as we paddled them for the first hour or so in order to get to the actual north fork of the river. The river itself is pretty low as well. No problem with logjams at all, but there are a lot of exposed rocks that normally are non-issues. Every sandbar that we staopped at had moose and bear tracks, but we didn't see a single critter all day. Took us about 4 hours total.

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    Where did you park at the roadside put-in or did you just have a shuttle bunny drop you off? With the water tank and the construction it looked like there was only one space available (it was taken by a road crew truck). I was worried about parking anywhere else in the construction zone for fear of being towed or drug out of the way by a tractor. I just called it a day and went home frustrated.

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    We ran from the North Fork water tank down thru campground two weekends ago as an overnighter. Talked to the construction crew as they were leaving at the end of the day Sat. Although we didn't get direct permission, it appeared to be okay to park on the mountain side of the road for the night because they weren't working on Sunday. Workers also said that it was okay to do a drop off at the water tank during work hours -- but you couldn't leave a vehicle then (so you need a driver to shuttle it away). PUt in at the water tank is a 30 foot trail down hill and easy. But some water pumps and hoses that you need to be careful of....

    Met a guy who put in at the State Park North Fork access -- he said it was a walk with several gravel bars to pull over. Going up to the water tank is the only thing that makes sense if you have a loaded raft like we did.

    Campground Rapids was rocking after some earlier rain. We had two boats and ran both sides. River left slot had a Class III must make move which you have to wait a little longer than some might like to avoid bumping into some guard rocks on the left side. If you go too soon, you might bump back out into the current heading for the pile. Consequences of hitting that would be bad -- pile is huge these days and has some water pushing under its toe at the head. Hole at the bottom of the left slot was not very sticky at 4.3 on the gauge. I ran this in an 18 foot cat and barely got wet.

    Right side has the usual action. Plenty of power and a good breaking wave at the bottom left. I ran this in a 15 foot SB round boat with four passengers. Cleaned all the glacial sand and mud off the boat that had been accumulating over the trip. Good fun.

    I noticed that several logs on the pile had their ends cut off. Interested if anyone knows whether this was a State Parks or private user action....okay to pm me if you don't want to make it a public topic. Who should cut and how much should they cut can be a touchy subject...I'm just interested in whether there is an official process or whether people just hope it gets done. I'm sure no one wants the liability of having done too little (should someone get hurt anyway) or too much (should a biologist decide that the particular logs you cut were critical for salmon habitat).

  10. #10
    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    I ran the bridge to bridge section on Sunday, July 5th in my 13' cat. The online reading showed just over 5'. There were no major hazards besides the normal rapids and the huge logpile in the center of Campground Rapid. I ran the river right slot which is clear but still intimidating with the logpile on the left side as you enter. The sneak on river left actually looks more difficult due to the last minute, must make pull across the current below the guard rocks and above the center rock/log-pile.

    i floated the section above Briggs Bridge today, 6 July at a gauge reading of about 5.8. My shuttle driver dropped me off at the widespot past the North Fork access. Looking immediately downstream from the put-in there were sweepers left and right and a big strainer past those. Everything was easily avoidable today. The same held true the rest of the way to the bridge. The float took me just shy of 4 hours. It would have been less but a couple of first time kayakers had flipped a boat, lost a paddle, and were literally "up shiza creek without a paddle". I found the paddle a bit downstream and was able to eventually get it back to them. I used to kayak a lot. Always, always bring a spare paddle and some dry clothes. They are cheap and can help you avoid drama with the river or your significant other.


    Another couple of awesome days on a beautiful AK river!

  11. #11
    Member BluNosDav's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Whittaker View Post
    I noticed that several logs on the pile had their ends cut off. Interested if anyone knows whether this was a State Parks or private user action....okay to pm me if you don't want to make it a public topic. Who should cut and how much should they cut can be a touchy subject...I'm just interested in whether there is an official process or whether people just hope it gets done. I'm sure no one wants the liability of having done too little (should someone get hurt anyway) or too much (should a biologist decide that the particular logs you cut were critical for salmon habitat).
    Every time I look at that log-jam at Campground Rapids, I think to myself, "that would make an awesome bon-fire this winter!"

    Come on, who's in? After the first good snowfall, instead of Pizza Man, lets have an AOD gathering around a roaring campfire.
    "Luckily, enforcement reads these forums, and likely will peruse this one...Especially after a link of it is forwarded to them....." - AlaskaHippie.

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    I lightning strike right in the middle of it would work too. At least someone has done a fair amount of chainsaw work to open of both sides of the logpile. I've been hoping for another high water event to clean it out but there is a lot of wood up river that will probably just replace it.

    I'm bummed the section of river below the Glenn Hwy bridge is closed this year due to construction. That is a fun, splashy float. Hopefully the next construction permit will allow for boater access through the site..

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