Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day Trippin' the Middle Fork Chena River

Eager packrafters head towards the Middle Fork Chena River.

A winters worth of ice has flushed out of local rivers, the snow has melted, and the packrafts have reappeared after 8 months in hibernation. We headed to the hills east of Fairbanks for the first packraft excursion of the season. This was a pleasant day-trip right in our backyard playground known as the Chena River State Recreation Area.

Our hike began at the Angel Rocks trailhead. After a steady climb to the granite outcroppings that mysteriously protrude from the boreal forest, we continued the steep ascent to a tundra ridgeline on a connector trail that eventually leads to Chena Hot Springs. Just before reaching a small shelter cabin, a winter trail spurs off to the south and descends down to the Middle Fork Chena River. From there we floated back to the road where bikes can be stashed. Then its a quick 6-mile ride or run back to the vehicles. Total hiking was approximately 12 miles and the 6-mile float took us about 2 hrs.

A boardwalk elevates hikers and alleviates damage to the fragile, yet burnt, vegetation below.

The first few miles of the trail are well marked. The trail to Angel Rocks is one of the most popular in interior Alaska.

Excellent walking and views of the Tanana-Yukon Uplands and Alaska Range.

In a saddle at the eastern end of the ridge, sits a small trail shelter. A trail marked with cut-up road signs branches off to the south just before reaching the shelter. The relatively firm trail follows a ridge down to the Middle Fork Chena River.

The trail splits just before reaching the boggy wetlands around the river. One trail leads into a network of small beaver dams and flooded forest.

The put in on the Middle Fork Chena River is about 12 miles from Angel Rocks.

The Middle Fork is a casual class I float with an occasional sweeper or log jam to avoid. The take-out is at well established gravel bar and pullout at Milepost 43 Chena Hot Springs Rd. Jay pioneered this route and has some additional information HERE.

1 comment:

spruceboy said...

Your making me miss pack rafting season already, and winter has only started...