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Alaska waterways

Beaver Creek

Date : NOV 3 1976
From : David Dapkus

Subject: Field Inspection of Beaver Creek, August 3-11, 1976

Beaver Creek was one of 20 Alaskan rivers recommended as additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System by the Secretary of the Interior in December of 1973. BOR had studied Beaver Creek including conducting a inter-. agency field inspection in 1972-73. The proposed land managing agency, Bureau of Land Management is presently updating the resource data on the river. Staff of the Fairbanks District Office (BLM) requested that BOR participate in a field inspection of the river as part of the effort to update existing resource data.

Participating in the inspection were:

Dave Scott, BLM, Fairbanks District Office
Elliott Lowe, BLM, Fairbanks District Office
Clyde Murray, BLM, Fairbanks District Office
Bruce Durtsche, BLM, Fairbanks District Office
LaRalle Smith, BLM, State Office, Anchorage
David Dapkus, BOR, Alaska Field Office, Anchorage

Three 17 foot canoes were used for the field inspection.

August 3

I flew to Fairbanks via Wien in the late afternoon in order to be available for the next morning’s early flight via helicopter into Beaver Creek.

NOTE: These reports may not contain important information about: 1) safety, 2) land management and ownership, 3) fishing and other regulations and 4) possible errors > READ MORE

August 4

Flew in to the confluence of Ophir Creek with Nome Creek starting at 7 a.m., on a sunny, hot day via a Bell 206B helicopter. The canoes had been flown in two days earlier. On the flight in we saw ATV/4 wheel drive tracks/ trail along Ophir Creek. The put-in spot is within the proposed wild river boundary.
A large cabin, apparently built in 1975-76. It is located at the put-in and apparently is a miner’s cabin although the only visible mining equipment was a pick. A track vehicle was setting near the cabin.

We floated to O'Brien Creek on the Beaver from Ophir Creek a distance of about 10 miles. Ophir Creek was 10'-15' wide and was too rocky and shallow to float. Nome Creek was a series of 1"-4" riffles connecting 1'-2' deep pools; it varied from 25'-50' in width, clear, flowing at 2 mph over a rocky channel with fist to basketball size rocks. Although-it was so shallow in some riffles that we needed to pull the canoes across them, Nome Creek is generally floatable from Ophir Creek. Beaver Creek was also a series of pools (1'-4') and riffles (1"-6"), 40'-60' wide, clear, and flowing at 2 mph over a rocky channel. Beaver Creek had some sweepers and boulders, but it and Nome Creek offered good Class I water on the International Whitewater Scale.

The Beaver flows through a dense mixed white spruce-paper birch forest with willows near the water and tundra on the high slopes of the White Mountains. Forested two thousand foot high rolling hills surround Beaver Creek with the White Mountains rising 3,000'-4,000’ on the north and east of Beaver Creek. The White Mountains with their limestone peaks were almost always in view. The thick forested area and the clear waters of Beaver Creek combine with the White Mountains to create a beautiful scene for a float trip. Good campsites are plentiful on gravel bars or on the forest edge. There were recently made ATV tracks on the gravel bar at camp. Some garbage, a fire pit, and cut wood were evidence of previous campers at O'Brien Creek.

We saw a black bear on the banks of Beaver Greek just below the confluence of Nome Creek, several ducks, and moose sign on the gravel bars. Grayling fishing was excellent, we caught several averaging about 12".

August 5

Floated 14 miles today to an old cabin about three miles below Brigham Creek. The river continued to be a series of long pools (2' -6’) deep and riffles (1"-12") deep, but widened to 75' and picked up speed (3-5 mph). It continued to flow through a rocky channel of mainly fist size rocks and some small boulders. There were some sweepers, which with the river making several tight bends, kept us alert. We scraped the canoe bottom only a few times and did not have to pull them through any riffles. Good campsites continued to be plentiful and the scenery pleasing. We did not see any more ATV tracks, however we did check out three old fallen down cabins located along the riverbanks. Saw two beaver and many dams/lodges, ducks, moose and bear sign, and fresh wolf tracks. The day was warm and sunny.

August 6

The river continued to be clear pools (5'-15') and riffles (4"-8") as we covered about 14 miles to camp about four miles beyond the "Big Bend." We scraped the canoe bottom very little The river was 25'-75' wide, flowing at 3-4 mph and continued to. be clear. A few tight turns, sweepers, and occasional large rocks required some maneuvering.

Scenery at the "Big Bend" -Beaver Creek makes a 90o bend from west to north around the White Mountains -was superb. Hiking opportunities are excellent along the river in this area. Stopped at the BLM public use cabin at Wickersham Creek; it had been cleaned and repaired by YCC youth the previous week. Several groups had hiked in the Wickersham Dome trail to the cabin this summer. We also inspected a Native allotment on the north side of Beaver Creek in the "Big Bend." There were no signs of use just a sign identifying the allotment. We saw one-cow moose, four broods of ducks, four eagles, and three peregrine falcons. Grayling fishing continued to be great.

August 7

Floated about 15 miles to camp near Windy Creek. Beaver Creek slowed to 2 mph flowing mostly through 3'-12' deep pools was 40' -100' wide and clear, with no hazards other than an occasional sweeper. Looked at a well maintained log cabin built around 1964, which lies on the west bank near Fossil Creek. There is a good grass airstrip next to the cabin that is semi-blocked from the river by spruce trees. Rock outcroppings rise occasionally from the rivers edge in this section of the river adding-to the scenery.

August 8

Floated from Windy Creek to near Willow Creek, about 25 miles through a steady rain. The river was clear, 100' wide, 3'-15' deep except for a few riffles, and had a current of 3 mph. Although Beaver Creek pulls away from the White Mountains to parallel them at a 3-4 mile distance, the view from the river-continued to be excellent of the White Mountains, paralleling forested hills, and rock outcroppings at the rivers edge. We saw geese, ducks, beaver, and enjoyed more excellent grayling fishing. Also found wolf, bear, lynx, and moose tracks.

It rained from noon through the rest of the day.

August 9

Rained all day as we floated about 16 miles to camp near Yellow Creek. River flowed 3 mph through a 100' rocky channel at depths of 3'-15". There were a few sweepers and small log pileups, but could be readily avoided.

We enjoyed views of Victoria Mountain on the west and the White Mountains on the east all day. The river cuts sheer 75' high rock cliffs in many places as it skirts Victoria Mountain. Passed two gravel bars, which were estimated to be large enough for a small wheeled plane to land. Neither appears to have been used as landing strips however. Saw one grizzly bear, beaver, seven Dall sheep (Victoria Mt.), ducks and geese. Also saw one king salmon and caught enough grayling for supper.

August 10

Floated from Yellow Creek to a point about 12 miles below Victoria Creek (total of 18 miles for the day). Beaver Creek continued to flow about three mph, averaged 100' wide, was clear, and varied from 3'-10' in depth. Victoria Creek was roaring and slightly dirty. It is 20' wide and 2'-5' deep.

There are two cabins in use on the east bank of Beaver Creek at Victoria Creek confluence. We talked with the owner’s son who was there alone while his parents were in Fairbanks. They trap along Beaver Creek and do some guiding. Scenery was excellent until we got several miles passed Victoria Creek where it was pleasing but without the sheer rock cliffs and the close mountains were not as grand as before. We saw a black bear sow with two cubs about two miles below Victoria Creek. Grayling fishing continued to be excellent. Although this section of Beaver Creek is supposed to be good Northern pike fishing we did not catch any pike to prove it. Some of the straight and deeper stretches of the river below Victoria Creek could possibly be suitable for small float plane landings, however we do not know if such landings have occurred in the past.

August 11

Picked up by helicopter at 9:30 a.m. and returned to Fairbanks. Flew via Wien to Anchorage arriving at Anchorage at 1 p.m.

General

We covered about 120 miles of Beaver Creek in 6 ˝ easy days. It offered a good float trip for the novice canoeist as it is continuous Class I water with sweepers, particularly in the upper section, being the main hazard. There are no rapids. It’s scenery, grayling fishery and recreational opportunities are three of its outstanding features.

Dave Dapkus

   
 

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