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Thread: Looking for info on floating Willow Creek from Parks to Big Su

  1. #1
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    Default Looking for info on floating Willow Creek from Parks to Big Su

    I'm planning to float and fish Willow Creek from Parks Hwy to the take out at the Big Su next week and was hoping to get some information about parking, boat launch fees, etc.

    I heard that the people at the lodge there at the highway can arrange a shuttle, but does anyone know if they'll allow you to park there for part of the day and launch a boat, or is there a fee? Is there a public access point at the highway?

    If I park up at the highway, is it pretty easy to hitch a ride back up to the highway from the take out? I'm taking an inflatable kayak that folds up and doesn't take up much room, so it would fit in the back of someone's car or truck pretty easily.

    I'm trying to find the most economical way to do this, and since I probably can't find anyone to partner with on a Monday I sort of have to figure out the logistics on my own.

    Any input is much appreciated! (should I cross-post this in a different forum?)

  2. #2
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default book..

    I don't know if this will help, but here is some info from "Alaska River Guide" on access to Willow Creek. I did not see anything about charges, but most the land sounded like private land. I would hope being one guy with an inflatable kayak, someone would be willing to give you a ride. But who knows.

    "For class III-IV upper Willow Creek, the standard put in, known as Guardrail, is reached by taking Parks Highway to Milepost 71.2. Turn off on Hatcher Pass Rd (also known as Willow Creek Rd) drive east for 8.4 miles. Pull out on right shoulder after going up a large hill with guardrail on the left. Hop over the rail, and follow a well used sandy trail down through the alders for 20 minutes. Bring along an 8 foot length of lien to drag and lower your boat down through Devil's club and steep muddy sections.

    For the lower class II-III run, drive 6.6 miels up Hatcher Pass Rd to a steep driveway on the north side with a red metal gate and chain wrapped aound it. This put in is known as Redgate. If the gate is unlocked, yo ucan drive down the road (closing the gate behind you) and pass the cabin on the left fork of the road through dense alders to the clearing at the bottom. There is another clearing at the bottom. There is another clearing 50 yards beyond, but it may be hard to turn around there. Carry your boat the 100-150 yards to the trail, a sharp, steep drop from the north side of the second clearing, with a knotted line for descending. Please respect private lands in the area."
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Default

    Dan, the sections that you mention normally end several miles above where Bibico is talking about running. It is also an easier stretch. The Guard Rail section is perhaps the premier local IK run if you're into class IV water. Lots of fun in there.

    As far as the lower end from the highway down, I've not been in there in years, so I'm not the one to give advice. I don't think it's very far though, so perhaps you could park a bicycle at the bottom and ride back to the highway. I've done that for other one car shuttles.

  4. #4

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    This spring I hiked up willow creek. About 200-300 yards above the power lines there is a huge log jam. Some of these logs extend completely across the creek. This log jam is a couple hundred yards long so there is no way to pull out once you start through the log jam. Very dangerous.
    Below the Parks hwy the creek should be an easy run. Just listen for boats.

  5. #5
    Member Trouthead's Avatar
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    You have options, you can talk to the folks at the Pioneer about parking or shuttling. If you dont want to spend money you can put in at Deception or across the highway from the pioneer and try hitchhiking, which will save you the $5 day use fee at the mouth if you dont have a season state park sticker.

  6. #6
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    thanks for all the info, everyone. I've tried posting replies twice and each time they just disappeared. Maybe the third time is the charm. If I get up there Monday I'll post a report. Thanks again!

  7. #7

    Default A fun, easy float

    Bibico, I've always put in at the Willow Creek Resort on the North side of the Willow where it crosses the Parks Highway. Real nice, friendly people run the place, but they've upped their price to $24 this year for the shuttle. Basically, they follow you down to the Willow Creek SRA where you leave your car (another $5 there for the day I think if you don't have a Chugach annual pass) and then give you a lift back to the campground. If I remember correctly, there is also public access to the river just upstream of the Parks highway bridge. If you dropped a bike at the Willow Creek SRA, it would probably be something like an easy 8 mile ride back to the bridge at the end of your float.

    The float is around 5 river miles to the Susitna. Just stay to the left on your way down the Willow and almost immediately after you hit the Big Su, you will see a little slough on your left (usually with a line of people fishing across the mouth). Just paddle up the slough a ways and you will come to a small boat ramp for the take-out.

    One more thing. I've only been up there twice this summer, both times in July and both times the river was way high. There was a ton of new logs and debris in the water, and we saw big trees floating down the river. Not sure if it's still there, but maybe a mile before the mouth, there was a logjam crossing the entire river that we could BARELY sqeeze through in my raft. Now that the water level should be closer to normal, I bet it will require a short portage to get by.

    Should be a great trip! Let us know how it goes.

    Rob

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    Default Thanks for the information, everyone

    I tried posting earlier, but three times I hit the Submit Reply button and my message just disappeared.

    I'll give it a shot either tomorrow or Monday on Willow Creek and I'll give everyone a report on fishing and paddling conditions when I get back.

    I'm kind of thinking of trying to drop off my car at the take-out and just hitch a ride back to the put in, if I can find a safe place to stash the boat while I'm doing that. I've got the annual Day Use pass for State Parks, so at least that's $5 I won't have to spend. It might be just as well to pay them for the shuttle.... I'll see how that goes when I get there.

    Portaging shouldn't be too bad if I spot a jam far enough in advance.

    Thanks again for all the advice and input!

  9. #9

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    I live on the Willow. THe best place to put in at is deception creek and pull out at the campground. I do this float once or twice a month

  10. #10
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    Default Interim followup

    I stopped by the Pioneer yesterday before heading up to Hatcher Pass. They told me they were charging $25 for shuttle service now, but that includes the $10 they charge for launching from their property. I guess that's a decent deal if you're floating the creek solo.

    One of the staff there told me that she floated the creek last month and at that time there was room to get around the log jam that's been mentioned. She said as far as she knew it was still open, but there have been a few people getting boats stuck in the jam. It looks like the current in the creek is mild enough to allow corrective maneuvers to get around the jam. I'm shooting for floating it Monday if the weather isn't awful. I'll see if there's a decent pullout near the log jam so I can take a picture to post here if anyone's interested.

    (By the way, I scouted blueberries all over both sides of Hatcher Pass from Willow up to the Mine and down to Archangel and the Mother Lode, and all I could find were little tiny berries just forming..... and not many of them. A couple of my favorite patches had barely any signs of berries. Seems like they're late this year. Oh, and there was a fresh dusting of snow on the tops of the hills leading up to the mine. )

  11. #11

    Default Deception Creek Question

    BillyBBad, do you think a 14ft raft could make it down Deception Creek? I might give that a go next week. Thanks!

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