"DSC_9904_HDR" by Bureau of Land Management Alaska , public domain
Brochure for Fortymile Wild and Scenic River (WSR) in Alaska. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
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The Fortymile Wild and Scenic River is part of the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System, which conserves, protects, and restores nationally signiﬁcant landscapes and places that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientiﬁc values for the beneﬁt of current and future generations. National Conservation Lands include 900 areas (27 million acres) of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness Areas, and other federally-designated special places. Weather and Safety Bureau of Land Management You can easily become disoriented in the rugged Fortymile country, where the river winds through the Tanana uplands. Carry inchto-the-mile maps and a compass. Keep track of your position as you ﬂoat because many river bends look similar. Rapids and portages are not marked. Carry maps of the surrounding area in case an accident forces you to walk out cross-country. There is no cell phone coverage in this area. Please follow Leave No Trace practices. Fairbanks District Oﬃce 222 University Avenue Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 Local: 907-474-2200 Toll Free: 1-800-437-7021 www.blm.gov/ak Water Temperature. The Fortymile River is cold! Wear a life jacket. A wetsuit is recommended for kayakers and canoeists planning to run the bigger rapids. Know how to recognize, prevent, and treat hypothermia. Tok Alaska Public Lands Information Center P.O. Box 359 Milepost 1314, Alaska Highway Tok, Alaska 99780 907-883-5667 www.nps.gov/aplic Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Information Center Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center 101 Dunkel Street, #110 Fairbanks, Alaska 99701 907-459-3730 www.nps.gov/aplic Visit us on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/BLMAlaska Follow us on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/BLMAlaska Water Level. The water level can change drastically overnight in the Fortymile River drainage, so always tie your boats well above the high-water mark. Remember that good weather in your particular location does not guarantee stable water levels; rain in the headwaters can lead to signiﬁcant ﬂuctuations far downstream and change the characteristics of rapids. Bears. Although there have been few problem bears on the Fortymile, there are bears in the area. Prudent campers cook and store food well away from tents and boats. Don’t bury cans or garbage; bears will ﬁnd them and make a mess. Pack it in, pack it out. Giardia. All water should be treated to prevent giardiasis. This intestinal parasite can leave you feeling miserable for weeks. Boiling water for at least ﬁve minutes is the best way to kill the organism. B L M /A K /G I - 8 9 /0 2 6 + 8 3 5 4 + 0 8 0 R e v 2 0 1 6 Fortymile Wild and Scenic River The Mosquito Fork Dredge and other remnants of the region’s colorful mining past can still be seen along the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River. Fortymile Wild & Scenic River Fortymile History Running the River The Fortymile country was not always as accessible as it is today. In the past, summer travelers walked overland with packhorses or poled up the river. In the winter they traveled overland or along the river by dog sled. The Fortymile River was always a reliable thoroughfare for travelers, summer or winter. Early prospectors poled their boats from the Yukon River in Canada to the Fortymile River and up its tributaries and creeks. Most of the early boats were made by hand, using available materials. Quality depended on individual skills in whipsawing and carpentry. River users usually portaged even the mildest rapids rather than risk losing a whole year’s grubstake. Prospectors gave the Fortymile River its name around 1886 because it enters the Yukon River about 40 miles below the former Hudson’s Bay post of Fort Reliance. Today’s travelers on the Fortymile can ﬁnd relaxation, adventure, and a touch of the past. Many signs of mining activity, both past and present, are visible along the river. Watch for remains of old bucket-line dredges, turn-of-thecentury trapper cabins, and the old townsites of Franklin, Steele Creek, and Fortymile. Remember, these structures and artifacts belong to everyone. Take only pictures, leave only footprints. As you ﬂoat the river, you will probably encounter small suction-dredge operations mounted on pontoons. You can also see evidence of more substantial mining activity with large sluice boxes, heavy machinery, and rustic log cabins. Early foot travelers, freighters, and mail carriers followed an overland trail connecting all the communities in the Fortymile country. The trail ran south from Eagle to Liberty, over to Dome Creek, then followed O’Brien Creek to the Fortymile River and downstream to the roadhouse at the mouth of Steele Creek. From Cover photo: Floating the Fortymile River near the U.S.-Canada border. Open gravel bars make great campsites. Today’s easier road access and high-tech gear haven’t changed the river and its challenges. Rapids on the Fortymile can be hazardous. The degree of hazard depends on your conditioning, experience, and equipment, as well as the ﬂow rate of the water. The same river section that has smooth, slow water in a dry June can offer challenging rapids after heavy August rains. Running The Chute rapids. there the trail wound up Steele Creek, over the ridge to Gilliland Creek, and down to the community of Jack Wade. It then headed west to Franklin and south again until it reached Chicken. The trip would take from 3 to 4 days by dog sled or horse-drawn wagon. Fortymile is gold country. At the turn of the century, gold brought $17 a troy ounce, and Fortymile miners removed an average $225,000 worth of gold bullion each year. Today, when that amount of gold would be worth many millions of dollars, the abandoned dredges remind us of the excitement of those years. The Fortymile River runs through a remote area of Interior Alaska. Rapids often should be portaged to prevent injury or loss of provisions far from help. Hard and fast rules for running the river are impractical because every trip is run under different conditions. You will need to maneuver around rocks or waves in nearly every bend of the river, and sweepers and snags are common. There is no substitute for good judgement and attentiveness. The following guidelines cover the signiﬁcant rapids. Bald Eagle Rapids, on the Middle Fork just above the conﬂuence of the Middle and North forks, is hazardous for canoes at high water levels. It generally can be run on either side of the large rock in the center of the stream. Scouting ahead for sweepers is recommended. Along the riverbank of the Middle Fork, you can see remnants of the Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System. The WAMCATS line, completed in 1902, provided a communications link between Fort Egbert in Eagle and Fort Liscum near Valdez to Washington, D.C., and the rest of the United States via Seattle. in a relatively uncharted wilderness without beneﬁt of developed transportation or communication systems. The area is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The Chute is about a half-mile below the conﬂuence of the Middle and North forks, where the river straightens from a turn to the right as you face downstream. Canoes generally should portage this class III water using either bank. Deadman’s Riﬄe is on the main stem of the Fortymile about 15 miles below the Fortymile Bridge. It is class III at some water levels and can be portaged on the right. The Kink is big water, with several drops over 3 feet and recirculating hydraulics. It should be portaged on the right bank. To recognize the approach to The Kink, note that two signiﬁcant streams enter the river on the right after passing The Chute. The second of these, Hutchinson Creek, is about 10 miles below The Chute. Keep your eyes and ears open after passing Hutchinson Creek, staying close to the right bank when the river bends to the left. Before the river turns back to the right, stop and scout ahead. Walk downstream to determine just how far you can safely bring your boat before starting the portage. The portage generally is made over the trail on the higher bench. The Kink was formed in 1898 when a group of Danish prospectors blasted away a 100-foot rock ridge to drain a 2.8-mile-long meander. The dry river bed was worked for gold, but proved to be poor ground and was abandoned by 1905. Draining the meander might be an easy task using today’s technology, but creation of The Kink was a major engineering feat in that day and time. It was accomplished The Falls is a class II to III rapids about 2 miles above the Fortymile Bridge and can be portaged on the right. Claghorn Rapids, about 3 miles downstream from Deadman’s Riﬄe, is also class III and can be portaged on the right. Canyon Rapids is in Canada, below the mouth of Bruin Creek. Very dangerous at extremely high water, Canyon Rapids is diﬃcult to line or portage due to the steep canyon walls. At lesser ﬂows Canyon Rapids is class II to III water and can be lined or portaged on the right. Portaging around rapids at The Kink. Fortymile Wild & Scenic River Eagle Canada North Fo rk Hutch ins on Joseph Airstrip (unmaintained) ay Cr e Claghorn Rapids Deadmans Riﬄe Jack Wade Junction MP 96 (Taylor Highway) MP 0 (Top of the World Highway) Ketchumstuk Mountain 5,002 ft Mosquito Fork Bridge Wayside The Mosquito Fork is too shallow to ﬂoat except during periods of high water. This ﬂoat trip starts at the Mosquito Fork Bridge, milepost 64 Taylor Highway. The easiest way to get equipment to the river is to turn east off the highway just south of the bridge and drive about 100 yards to the point where a steep ramp has been installed to the water’s edge. This ramp is not suited for boat trailers, but it provides a good route to carry rafts or canoes. Chicken residents use this access point to get drinking water, so please keep the area clean. Park your vehicle in the parking lot on the north side of the bridge. M os q Cr ee MP 66 Mosquito Fork Bridge Wayside MP 64 k Dennison Fork hu stu k M tc Ke m o Chicken or ld n eo l o Nap k Cree Wa de C Franklin Creek rk to Fo i u sq Canyon Rapids er ymile Riv t r o Franklin Townsite This boat landing at milepost 75 Taylor Highway has a parking lot, outhouse, and boat ramp. The boat ramp is exposed to the river current and is not easy to use; four-wheel drive is generally necessary. Long-term parking is available, but overnight camping is not allowed at the South Fork Bridge Wayside. Yukon Rive r Steele Creek Townsite Uhler Creek (abandoned) ek re lke Wa • Joseph to Fortymile Bridge: Eagle A-2, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-4, B-5 • South Fork Bridge to Fortymile Bridge: Eagle A-2, B-1, B-2 • Fortymile Bridge to Eagle: Eagle C-1, C-2 (U.S); Fortymile 116C/7, Cassiar 116C/8, Shell Creek 116C/9, Mount Gladman 116C/10 (Canada) • Mosquito Fork Bridge to South Fork Bridge: Eagle A-2 • West Fork Campground to South Fork Bridge: Eagle, A-2, Tanacross D-2, D-3 • West Fork Campground to Fortymile Bridge: Eagle A-2, B-1, B-2 (abandoned) Clinton Creek Bridge The Falls Mt. Warbelow 5,553 ft South Fork Bridge Wayside to ui ork F r to Dawson City W the Top of Boundary MP 9 way igh Brochures The following brochures are available at BLM and APLIC oﬃces listed on the back panel: U.S. & Canada Customs MP 14 (8 am to 8 pm, Summer only) • Taylor Highway Travel Guide • The Eagle-Valdez Trail • Early Miners of the Fortymile • Eagle – Fort Egbert: A Remnant of the Past Davis Dome Wayside MP 13 Walker Fork Campground MP 82 South Fork Bridge Wayside MP 75 Distance & Floating Time Chart These ﬁgures represent estimated averages from BLM patrol trips in varying conditions. The ﬂoat time does not include portage times – only average time on the river. As in most northern rivers, high water can be expected from late May to mid-June, with a general drop toward minimal ﬂows by September. All river users should be aware that the Fortymile can ﬂuctuate dramatically at any time of the year. Water level can rise several feet overnight, so always secure boats well above the high-water mark. Strong headwinds on the Yukon can slow progress to a crawl. Always have enough provisions to allow for changing conditions. West Fork Campground & River Access MP 49 or k Fortymile Wild & Scenic River Corridor Boat Launch NPS National Preserve Information Roads Parking Rivers Picnic Area Rapids Scenic View Put-in or Take-out Toilet 5 High way 20 Miles 15 10 Kilometers sk 2 Ala a Highway to Delta Jun ction and Fairban ks For put-in on the West Fork of the Dennison Fork, add 30 miles and 10 hours to the South Fork Bridge estimates. For put-in on the Mosquito Fork, add 10 miles and 5 hours to the South Fork Bridge estimates. Put-in Points 5 Joseph Airstrip D en Fork n o s ni Fortymile Bridge Clinton Creek Bridge 8 8 2 2 2 9 3 1 3 6 4 5 3 6 3 3 4 3 8 4 4 2 3 4 4 6 8 1 8 9 Eagle South Fork Bridge 1 3 3 8 6 2 4 7 4 9 5 2 2 2 4 1 4 0 1 0 4 1 6 2 1 7 5 2 9 3 2 8 3 5 4 Fortymile Bridge 4 8 1 2 5 4 7 3 2 5 to Glennallen and Anchorage 1 0 5 1 6 3 2 0 4 Clinton Creek Bridge 3 4 5 3 5 3 1 3 1 1 4 1 8 5 3 Floating time in high water (hours) Tetlin Junction MP 0 Tok Cutoff 4 1 0 1 Tok o Ca nad a River miles from put-in to take-out Floating time in average conditions (hours) t This map should be used for general trip planning only. Use USGS inch-to-the-mile maps (1:63,360) for detailed trip planning. Mt. Fairplay 5,541 ft Tayl or 0 10 5 t Mount Fairplay Wayside MP 35 Campground Points of interest 0 k Logging Cabin Creek Wayside MP 43 Take-out Points We s Fo r Mosquito Flats Loggin g Ca bin Creek F N West Fork Bridge The old settlement of Clinton Creek was inhabited from 1967 to 1979, though little remains there today. This is the last take-out point before the Yukon River. To reach it by vehicle, drive from the U.S.-Canada border about 28 miles down the Top of the World Highway to the Clinton Creek turnoff and follow the unmaintained road for 25 miles. No facilities or services are available. Please respect private property in the area. Camp below ordinary highwater mark above the bridge on river left. ek (abandoned) rk Fo This boat landing at milepost 112 Taylor Highway is heavily used by miners and recreationists. A steep access road that often requires four-wheel drive leads to the river on the east side of the highway. It is diﬃcult but not impossible to use boat trailers here. Leave your vehicle in the parking lot on the west side of the highway instead of on the ramp. k Fortymile Bridge Wayside MP 112 North Fortymile Bridge Wayside ee Cr Travelers should have detailed maps of the speciﬁc area they are ﬂoating. The map in this brochure should be used for general trip planning only. Use USGS inch-to-the-mile maps (1:63,360) listed below for detailed ﬂoat trip planning. Fortymile Townsite Clinton Creek H k The Kink Bald Eagle Rapids w igh O'Brien le idd M Taylo r ph Cr ee F Jos e H The Chute k For U.S. Geological Survey Maps 5 Cha mpio n Creek This unmaintained bush airstrip is rough and narrow, but it’s the easiest way into the Middle Fork and North Fork areas. A gully cuts across the airstrip near the middle; landing here requires an experienced pilot and capable aircraft. A 50-yard trail at the airstrip’s eastern end leads to the river. Clinton Creek Bridge (Canada) Anchorage Yukon–Charley Rivers National Preserve Joseph Airstrip Most of the year, the West Fork of the Dennison Fork is too shallow for pleasant canoeing or rafting. The exception is during periods of high water, especially during spring runoff. Put in at the West Fork Bridge, milepost 49 Taylor Highway. Boats must be carried about 20 yards to the water. The West Fork Campground, a quarter-mile from the bridge, has outhouses and 25 campsites. A long-term parking area lies south of the bridge. Fairbanks MP 160 Fort Egbert Before traveling the Taylor Highway, be sure you have adequate supplies. Gas and food are available only in Chicken and Eagle. Boaters who ﬂoat down the Fortymile to its conﬂuence with the Yukon River will ﬁnd their ﬁrst opportunity to take out at Eagle, which has three boat landings. The ﬁrst is a private landing for the sightseeing boat Yukon Queen II. Vehicles can be driven to the water’s edge at the second landing, just downriver. The third landing requires a 20-foot climb up a steep stairway to reach downtown Eagle. Be sure to check in with U.S. Customs on arrival. Alaska United States The river is a peaceful and refreshing alternative to road travel. You can select a half-day float on the Mosquito Fork, a week-long float to Eagle— or anything in between—by consulting the Distance and Floating Time Chart below. Arrangements for air taxi service to the Joseph put-in can be made in Tok. Otherwise, all put-ins are accessible from the Taylor Highway. If you are planning a trip on the lower Fortymile to either Clinton Creek or down the Yukon to Eagle, you must check in with both Canada and U.S. Customs. Eagle Location of area shown on map South Fork River Access Average speed in average conditions (mph) 8 8 2 9 3 2 2 4 Average speed in high water (mph) 4 4 2 Average speed in low water (mph) Floating time in low water (hours) BLM/AK/GI-95/010+8354+020 Rev. 2008