Middle Fork to North Fork to Fortymile Bridge
This trip takes you 88 miles through the heart of the Fortymile region. Plan on 29 hours of float time for average water levels. A screen-viewable map of this trip is available here
The easiest way into the Middle and North forks area requires an air taxi flight from Tok into Joseph, an historic mining site with a rough, unmaintained bush airstrip. A gully cuts across the airstrip near the middle; landing here requires an experienced pilot and capable aircraft. A 50-yard trail at the eastern end of the runway leads to the river.
Along the riverbank of the Middle Fork, watch for 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 places you can still see where the military cut trees and hung wire for the line.
|The Chute rapids at low water|
rapids are 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. Canoeists generally should portage this class III water using either bank.
The Kink is big water, with several drops over three feet and recirculating hydraulics. It is rarely runnable and 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 shelving bedrock on the right bank. If the water is high, use the trail on the higher bench.
| Fishing at the Kink|
The Kink was formed in 1898 by Danish prospectors who blasted a gap through a 100-foot-high rock ridge, draining a river bend they wanted to mine. Read the article "Letters from the Kink"
for more information on the history of this unique landform.
Two miles above the Fortymile Bridge is the Falls, a class II to III rapids. Notice a large eddy that has taken a bite out of the cliffs on the left bank. It shows up clearly on the inch-to-the-mile (1:63,360) map. Generally you will run the Falls on the right at high water and on the left at low water. It can be portaged on the right bank.
Unless you are continuing on to the lower river, you will take out at the Fortymile Bridge at milepost 112 on the Taylor Highway. 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 at the parking lot on the west side of the highway instead of on the ramp. Outhouses are available.
The U.S. Geological Survey inch-to-the-mile (1:63,360) maps recommended for this trip are:
Eagle A-2, B-1, B-2, B-3, B-4, B-5