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Thread: Upper Chena

  1. #1
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    Default Upper Chena

    Headed up to Fairbanks in a couple weeks and I was looking to do a river float. We floated from Chena lakes to Pioneer Park last year and it was a nice float. Slow and uneventful yet relaxing and sunny. This year we were thinking of doing the upper Chena. Can you get to Fairbanks along this route or do you end at rosehip campground? Also, is there a better float (say the birch or beaver river) that we could manage in three days time? Our Skill level is moderate. Looking for a feel of remoteness yet roadside pull out/put in. Any advice would be great. Thanks

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    You can go from upper Chena all the way to Fairbanks if you wish. BUT you will have to portage around the dam and then do the same float you did before. Most people pull out at Rose Hip or just a little further down at Grange Hall Road Bridge (approx mile 21.5) I have put in at the last bridge of the Chena (at Angel Rocks) and made it to Rose Hip in two days.

    I have not yet gone down since the flooding of last year, so I cannot state how the river is. There was a few other threads about this a few weeks back.

    Good luck on the trip.

  3. #3

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    can you get on base?

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    Why do you have to portage around the dam?

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    Default Base

    You float right through Ft. Wainwright property without any trouble. Just cant camp in that stretch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoyt View Post
    Why do you have to portage around the dam?
    I was told that by someone that did that stretch as does one book on the river that I read many years ago. I have yet to do it, but if you don't have to portage, that's great. I have been known to make a mistake or two about a river in the past.

  7. #7

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    I floated all the upper and lower this year and the upper is full of log jams and of course the lower is slow. Be prepared for many portages if you plan on putting in high up like at angel rocks. Also.. the upper chena is full of nice grayling so take a pole and have a blast.

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blybrook View Post
    I was told that by someone that did that stretch as does one book on the river that I read many years ago. I have yet to do it, but if you don't have to portage, that's great. I have been known to make a mistake or two about a river in the past.
    Maybe for safety reasons?!?!?!? I've never portaged it though.

  9. #9

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    I floated from Angel Rocks and had no portages.

  10. #10

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    the only dam on the chena is by the chena lakes flood control project out in north pole. if you are floating the upper chena, between bridges or all the way down to grange hall road there is no dam. (its a couple day trip from the upper chena to grange.) if you continue on to paddle to town from grange hall road, another 2-3 days, you will need to portage the dam at the flood control project. (or, take out at the flood control project its a long slow paddle to town.)

    look on google earth and you will see all the locations, you can even zoom in on the dam.

  11. #11
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    Default chena float

    I would recommend floating between the first bridge (mile 38-ish of Chena Hot Springs Road) to the Rosehipe campground. There's a good write-up on that float, and others, here: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chena/river.htm

    Just to be clear, the dam at the Chena Flood Control project doesn't require a portage. The dam is only lowered during flood events. Under normal conditions, the gates are up and you can float right through. There's a picture that clarifies that here: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF19/1919.html

    -Patrick

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    Member H20Dogg's Avatar
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    Default Huge Log Jam

    There was a Huge Log Jam or "dam" downstream of Grange Hall that requires portaging, I believe however that there maybe a side channel that leads around it. I have done this float from 38 mile to Rose Hip a ton of times and it takes a while 10-12 hours in my 17' raft, way slower than a canoe. Bring a saw though I just had to cut a few trees that fell across the river this June. Bring a Fly Rod!!!

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    Wife & I canoed from Rosehip campground to Chena Lakes 4 or 5 weeks back. Was a blast!

    #1) The dam is like a massive 3 or 4 car garage. No portage. U just float nice and easy right through it. No difficulty there. No fast water. Just right through it. It's not a concern unless the Chena is at action or flood stages or there is a ton of debris blocking the dam like early in the spring. It's good to go right now. THere's even a webcam u can look at owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

    #2) We never actually had to portage anything really. There were 3 or 4 spots where we got out and scouted the log jams ahead just to pick a decent line through the mess. Our skill level was beginner and we didn't have any problems. No close calls at all even. Just paid attention and let the paddles do the work. We did end up using the GPS a few times to decide what channel to go down but all in all it wasn't difficult to navigate.

    #3) Only made one mistake where we had to back track up river about 500ft. once we realized we went down the wrong channel. No lining. All paddling. The upper Chena is faster and way more fun then the lower. But also lots of sweepers and strainers to watch out for.

    We did roughly 4 to 6 hours of paddling a day and made it in 3 days. Took our time for sure. Hope that helps. I wouldn't even bother with anything past Chena Lakes. The river gets wide and slooooow the closer u get to town. The fun stuff is definitely upriver. Hope that helps.

  14. #14

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    Rosko..there is a better float, that is why I asked if you can get on base....I know you can float right through FWA with no problems.

  15. #15
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    The Chatanika is another good three day trip as well put in at 40 mile steece with take out at Murphy dome area.
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

  16. #16

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    this one has big grayling in it

  17. #17
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    Default Base

    Sorry about that whole base thing TBow. Saddly I dont have access onto the base so, the float you speak of may not be posssible for me. Its looking like we are going to do the upper/middle chena after all. (unless the whole area bursts into flames) Should be a fun relaxing type of trip with minimal effort on drop off/pick up. Chatanika is still a possiblity however. Hmmmm...

  18. #18

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    no worries. I did this float a couple years ago and kicked myself for not bringing my fly rod!! I dont know what it would take to get access...other then stopping at the front gate and asking for a pass. We floated it in 3 days, I'm sure you could go faster (or slower if you wanted too). We had 2 canoes and a soar 16 on the float. It's definatly one I'd like to do again in the near future. Cheap and 'easy', and full of fish .

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