Lower Eagle River Trip Report (low water) 5/25/14



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  • Lower Eagle River Trip Report (low water) 5/25/14

    I've had my raft out a few times already this spring mostly on short, solo trips to access an area for black bear hunting (no bears). I gave up on the bear hunting and asked the family if they wanted to float the lower portion of Eagle River onto JBER. They readily agreed to a paddle trip vs. oars which made it a bit more fun and involved for everyone.

    I had floated this section of Eagle River a couple of times before but it had been several years. The pass procedures for JBER are fairly simple, but time consuming. You will spend more time running the shuttle and obtaining the passes than you will floating. It's still worth it IMO. Register everyone that will be floating at https://jber.isportsman.net and print the passes. You will need the info off each pass to sign in/out of the training area. The shuttle drivers will need to obtain a daily pass at the Richardson gate. Bring your driver's license, proof of insurance, and registration. JBER no longer issues a yearly civilian driver's pass as far as I know. After obtaining the drivers passes you can use the kiosk in the gate visitor center to register everyone on the float. You can also register via smartphone, etc. However, I found it easier to just use the kiosk.

    Once through the gate proceed straight on D street a couple of miles and make a right on Route Bravo. The road turns to gravel and follow it several miles east until you see the sign for the Eagle River Boat Takeout. Drop a vehicle and return to the put-in. Pay careful attention to the posted speed limits on base. You are a guest and an easy target for a ticket and lost pass if you speed. The round trip from the put-in, gate pass, drop-off, and return to the Eagle River campground took us about 60 minutes.

  • #2
    We scouted the class III Campground Rapid for the possibility of putting in farther upstream but decided against it. The rapid has built up a truly impressive log pile in river center. It must be close to 20' high. I wish I had a picture but I don't. However, It's worth taking a look if you are in the area. Drive through the River Loop and park at the tent camping area for the scout. Campground Rapid is directly behind it. The sneak on river left at low water requires a mandatory move river left. Missing that channel will result in possible high-siding into the logjam with possible Class VI consequences. The main, right channel had some wood jammed in a rock with a couple of minor sweepers downstream. We opted to put in just above the Glenn Highway bridge.

    I like this class I/II section of Eagle River. The low, silty water and afternoon glare make for lots of required maneuvering around boulders and a few minor sweepers. This scenery is interesting and the river feels isolated even though you are just minutes from civilization. Like all AK rivers, you are isolated enough that you must be self sufficient for any contingency.

    There's enough splashy water and fun for the paddlers to make it a great family trip.

    if you don't mind the minor hassle of obtaining the JBER passes and the relatively long shuttle-to-float time I'd recommend you boat this section with friends or family. DON'T FORGET TO SIGN OUT AFTER. IT WOULD BE A SHAME TO LOSE THE BASE ACCESS.


    • #3
      The takeout is in training area TA407. You will need to select the training area(s) when you sign-in and out. Don't float past the takeout. The Eagle River Flats downstream is used for live-fire and has unexploded artillery. :eek:


      • #4
        I ran it again today 6/25 in the light rain with my wife and three out of town friends. They online gauge read 4.2 which was about perfect IMO. There were less mid-channel rocks and no new obstacles. However, the takeout is a bit tricky. There is less eddy an not much beach now at the takeout. Plus, there is a fish counting weir installed and a head high cable just downstream if you go long. My wife was quick to jump with the bowline at the takeout.

        i enjoy this float even if it takes longer to rig and run the shuttle than to float. As a side note, the Campground Rapid
        left side sneak has enough flow for rafts now. However, the meaty right channel still has a downstream sweeper.


        • #5
          I used to take my kids down that when they were little, they used to point at the CREEPER HOUSE. (LOL) I forgot about that until your pic jogged my memory. No offense to the home owner, whoever it is, but you have to admit, knocking on that door, asking for help, would be more nerve racking than the river by far


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