Glennallen area float info needed
This year we are looking to do several short trips in the Valdez, Glennallen, Paxon area.
I've done Paxon to Sourdough a few times, but never the lower section (Sourdough to Richardson Hwy. Bridge). Do you consider this a 1 or 2 day float?
Where does one put in and take out if floating the Tonsina? How many floating hours?
Any issues with the Klutina? I hear it's fast with few eddies for stopping. I assume this can be a one day float.
Where would one put in and take out on the Copper for a one day float in the vicinity?
Does one need an Ahtna land use permit to access these rivers?
Other than these and the Lowe River / Keystone Canyon, are there any other fun or pleasant day trips in the area? How about a calmer section of the Tsaina? or...
We're looking for no more than class III for this, as we will have some less adventurous boaters.
How about an area to camp in for up to 20 people? Any recommended state or private campgrounds, or perhaps a nice spot on Ahtna land?
As far as the Klutina goes, if you put in around mile 14 (or so) the road is/was nice and made for a simple bike shuttle. It is an easy trip down to the bridge. It is a fast, but unobstructed river, fun and splashy for kids. I think it takes about 4 hours.
Past the mile 14 put-in, the road gets super rough and the access is complicated. I had a hard time getting my wide trailer up the road. If you had your boats in a 4 wheel drive truck, and there were not any major rainstorms, you "should" be ok. Between private land owners, Ahtna, and the state I am unsure of a place to launch boats. We are planning on going up to the lake this summer with a raft in the back of the truck; if I figure anything out, I'll let you know.
I spent a weekend here back in summer 02 or 03, so my memory may be a little hazy..
Originally Posted by Jim Strutz
We had my little play cat, a C1 and a Kayak.
The log jam described in Fast & Cold was long gone.
We used the private property take-out (also discussed in F&C) which was about 1/3 of the way to the confluence with the Copper. It was my understanding that the lower 2/3 was slower, wider, and more subject to the winds typical of the Copper area. I don't think it was the same landowner as in F&C (which listed a phone # iirc). We just stopped at the house and asked and they where very nice, and continued through the property to their takeout, which was a great spot.
Taking out here allowed us to run this stretch 2x in one day no problem... The float was probably 2-3 hrs tops.
Put in was right next to the highway and the campground, easy access. Squirrel Creek Campground iirc.
Its all splashy class II except for the one rapid (III or III+?), its tough to scout, and totally blind. Its on the downstream end of a dogleg in the river where it runs into a hard rock cliff face and diverts to river left. You can stop just upstream of the rapid on river left in the middle of the dogleg, and kinda get a look at it but if you miss getting ashore you're gonna be right in the rapid.
IIRC you run to the left of the bulk of the hole, but it takes picking a good line because the river is driving you into the hole and a bit of lateral wave that looks like it could flip boats. Recovery options are pretty good as it smooths back to easymode right after it, but iirc it was not the kind of rapid I would want to swim. Some big rocks and pretty big hole could make for a sound thrashing...
feel free to pm or call if you want more info
Regarding the Klutina,
I recently heard the Ahtna trails representative talk a little about it.
This is all off the top of my head, I can check maps and get more details if you want to contact me at work this is the kind of stuff I love to help people with.
I believe there is a 17b access site at the end of the road that allows you to put in legally (on the lake). You can camp here for 24hrs iirc, you cannot fish from a 17b site easement. From there you can float all the way out, and could fish from the river, below OHW. But afaik the majority of the uplands adjacent to it are Ahtna owned (looking at maps, looks like ALL the uplands is Ahtna), so you cannot fish from above OHW, nor can you camp during your float out without first obtaining a permit from Ahtna. I believe they have some designated campsites on the river that they issue permits to use.
The Ahtna website should have info about this, but keep in mind, they like to highlight their permitting program (fair enough), and kinda bury the 17b information because they cant charge you to use a 17b.
Here is a big map of the area showing land status, and 17b's. The road to Klutina heads west out of Copper center. http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medial...illage_Map.jpg (if the number is black its reserved & legal, if its red its only been recommended)
It looks like there are two 17b site easements on the upper river not too far below the lake but I would have to dig into the casefiles to figure out if they are on the water or on the road (or both). I do not think you could stay at these on a mulit day float of the river, but they can be used to access the river without driving all the way up to the lake.
More specifically you are looking for USGS Quads Valdez C4, C5, and D4.
Crappy black'n'white copies of all the existing 17b quads
BLM's site for access on Ahtna lands, where that copper center map is linked from. Better quality maps with color land status. http://www.blm.gov/ak/st/en/prog/lan...tna_Lands.html
again, feel free to contact me for more specifics (pm for my # if you wish)
The Tonsina took me 7 hours from road to road, with about 6 big drops, and wood can be an issue in places. The klutina is open and just fun, put in 15.5 miles back the trail. The Tsaina is III+ to IV- in the upper and lower canyons, the middle is Class V.
The only other rivers ive done in the area are by McCarthy, and is the Gilahina, which is kayak only.
I will post some pics of the Klutina and Gilahina when i get a chance, I already posted pics of the Tonsina.
Looking back at my pics, there was some wood and we portaged twice, but this was early in 2007.
Being a fairly popular run I imagine it gets cleaned up rather fast. I would say no drops were more than class III with minimal maneuvering, but this was in a kayak.
Have you thought about the Kennicot/ Nizina, this is on my list and seems like a great multi day trip with no more than class III.
Tonsina P/I, T/O
No personal experience, but can relay info from Fast & Cold, Andy Embick, 1994:
At bridge over the Tonsina at Tonsina Lodge, mile 79, Richardson Hwy. Squirrel Creek Campground is also here.
At the bridge over the Tonsina at Lower Tonsina, mile 19.3, Edgerton Hwy.
Thank you all for the info so far.
We did the Kennecott/Nizina/Chitina/Copper last year, and it was a great trip. In other years we've done Nelchina/Tazlina in the area. Just looking for a different experience this year.
I still would like advice about camping in the area. Any nice campgrounds around? We have always camped on gravel bars, etc. in the past. This will be different for us.
Also, can the lower Gulkana be floated in one day?
Originally Posted by Jim Strutz
The Squirrel Creek campground at the put in for the Tonsina was your typical developed campsite, decent, and I think would accommodate your large party. Although I don't remember it being a particularly big campground... Maybe 20 or so sites? some larger some smaller.
Not sure about the other rivers other than the Klutina. If the uplands are Ahtna you could only camp below ohw on exposed gravel bars like you say you've done (unless permitted by Ahtna).
the sourdough to bridge reach is about 30 miles. so, i guess a raft could do it in a day, but it would be long day, unless the water was real high and racing along.
i've always canoed it and have taken 2 days—works out well, longer day for the first day and short day for the 2nd day which leads to an easy drive back to fairbanks on the same day.
LOTS of oxbows, so if the water is down its a slow paddle. its fun to do but not something i've done often.
Could you post a few of your details about the Kennicot/ Nizina run? Would this run be ok for begginerish/ lower intermediate type boaters per say? I have a few friends who want to try an adventure and are not my usual boating buddies, but can steer a boat.
I have a tendency to simply things, but I thought the Kennicott/Nizina/Chitna was a pretty straightforward trip and fitting for a beginner/intermediate group with Alaska wilderness skills. I have never posted photos, but I’ll try.
Originally Posted by markoathout
I went up there last year in August solo-style and camped at the put-in (paid something like 20 bucks); I got there around 9 Thursday night and it was open mike night at the bar in Mcarthy. Had a burger then drank and sang Irish drinking songs until I cannot recall. The bar was a good time and highly recommended. In the morning I drove back down the long road (make sure you have a spare and a jack) and parked my car at the take-out. I was able to hitchhike back up, 2nd person picked me up. Put-in around noon on Friday. The Kennicott was the most “challenging” stretch; I could see how the waves and construction equipment carnage (from a previous flood I believe) could be intimidating to a beginner. The Nizina and the Chitna were easy to navigate. I camped out on the Chitna Friday night around 10pm. The next morning, Saturday, I broke camp early and floated for about 8 hours to the takeout in Chitna. The last few miles on the Copper the wind was blowing like crazy, and it was difficult going. I want to say I spent between 15-18 hours on the river. Great scenery.
Ok, so I cannot figure out how to post pics directly, so here is a link to some photos of the Kennicott/Nizina/Chitna/Copper:
Hope this works. I wish more people posted photos.
Here is my write up on the Kennecott/Nizina/Chitina: http://paddling.jimstrutz.com/page48.html There is a link to my pictures of the trip at the top of the first page. Also included are pics of exploring the Kennecott Mine, and the section from Chitina to Cordova that some of us added on last year.
This is a good trip for anybody. The water is fast, but easy. The Kennecott is splashy right from the start, but the only "must do" move is missing the bridge abutments. Fantastic scenery.
I did not imagine the Nizina being that large, and the Kennicot looks fun.
Those winds on the Chitna were 30 miles an hour when i did the Gilahina,my progress downstream was severely hindered. We did the whole 35 mile trip in one day, and it was a very arduous paddle,I ate alot of silt and sand.
I think there are 4 more rivers crossing the road so the Chitna and I will become friends, I hope.
Thanks again for all the great Kennicot info
I thought I would post a follow up report on how this turned out, and provide the details on what we found.
We camped at Squirrel Creek Campground, and floated the Tonsina first. We put in right at the campground, and got out at mile 19 on the Edgerton Hwy (near Chitina). The water looked to be about mid levels, with the grass line just above water level. This float was 25 river miles, and took us less than 6 hours with several breaks. Average speed was 6.1 mph according to my GPS. All the real rapids are from river mile 2.5 to 6.5 (from the Richardson Hwy.) The first one took us by surprise, as it was a solid III+ at this level (some say IV-), and could not be seen before we were committed to run it. There were 4-5 other drops that followed that were nearly as tough; one with a huge hole right in the middle at the end. I didn't see a way to miss it, so we just charged it and crossed out fingers. After that it smoothed out, but the log jams and wood pile-ups were amazing. I've never seen so much wood in one river. We just kept our bows pointed into the outside of every corner to be able to pull away as fast as possible, and we didn't have any problems.
Next we did the Klutina. The put in access road is just north of the bridge on the Richardson Hwy. We went back in about 14 miles and launched where most other boaters do. You will probably need a $10 Ahtna permit to park and access the river. They are available at a kiosk/post about 3.5 miles in from the highway. Plan on at least 45 minutes each way when doing the shuttle. My GPS recorded 14.1 river miles, at an average speed of 7.3 MPH. The water was about 2" into the grass in most areas, so I would guess the water was medium-high. We did it again a couple days, and it had dropped about 4 inches, but I didn't see much difference in our experience. The water was fast, but there were still plenty of places one can pull over to fish or take a break. The float took 2 hours, and was a fun class II float. Lots of holes, rocks, and waves to dodge or charge, but nothing so big to frighten someone with modest experience, and fairly easy to miss them all if you want. There are some large holes in here as well, so don't run things you can't see. Also the access road has a reputation of being class IV. We found it mostly decent with a few class III sections near the put in, but after mile 15 or so it deteriorates into a full-on class IV road. I would say 4WD only if you are planning on going all the way to the lake.
The last river we did was the Lowe, through Keystone Canyon, about 20 miles from Valdez. We put in at Keystone Canyon Raft Adventures site, which they were kind enough to allow us access, and pulled out just after the canyon at the first driveway on the left as you drive south from the canyon. I didn't measure it, but I think it was about 5 miles of floating. This is a class III float in a fantastically scenic canyon. The most dangerous things are the bridge pillars, and they are easy to miss as long as you are paying attention. We did flip a boat in here though. It was kind of a freak thing, I think. It was the last hole on the river (called Little Bear rapid), which is just below Bridal Veil Falls in the middle of a left turn. You can't scout this from the road without a lot of hiking and bushwhacking, but right near the end of this blind turn the hole fills about 1/2 the river. The boat in question wasn't quite straight as it hit the hole, and going too slow. It stalled out in the hole and after bouncing about with it's bow in the air for a couple seconds, just rolled over. It was a great time of rescue practice, and nothing was lost. BTW, pull out at the falls and go stand under it with your rain gear on. That may be the best experience on this float. Well, besides flipping a boat anyway.
The last day we re-ran the Klutina because we thought that the funnest of these rivers.