Chulitna (lower section)

Just a little report on the last section of the Chulitna since at least the two books I reference don’t have much on this section, calling it a take-out for likely more adventurous runs upriver. Was looking for a mellow relaxing day trip to shake the winter rust off and this fit the bill.

Nearest gauge Talkeetna at RR 4.0 so relatively low.

Put-in mile 133 on the Parks hwy, northside of the bridge, west side of the road, across from the Princess Lodge road, down a well maintained gravel drive. Couple of ‘No trespassing’ signs there appear to not be due to private property, but State installed or maybe even the nefarious DHS to keep people away from the bridge. I believe the commercial guides use this access too so shouldn’t be any worries there.

Nice little wave trains, easily avoidable holes, couple of playspots right off the bat. Once past the Princess got to enjoy the canyon for awhile until things opened up. Even though the highway is relatively nearby I only was aware of its presence with road noise once. Not knowing exactly how the braids would work out with the junction with the Susitna and Talkeetna I hugged any usable channels on the left, which worked out but was largely unnecessary at least at this water level as I was doing so early. One reference would be when go by a large section of eroded cliffs on the left start thinking about staying with left main channels. Ferrying across the Talkeetna at its junction to take-out at the Talkeetna “beach” was a piece of cake, again low water level. Doesn’t appear it would be a problem in a packraft to island hop if needed to make that. Otherwise Susitna bridge over the highway exiting river right would be an easy back-up, or even an easier shuttle.

From downtown Talkeetna to the above put-in would be about a 50 mile shuttle. This section of the river would be very suitable for bike-on-raft. Overall, would make a nice step-up to a bigger river for beginner-intermediate, sweet little day trip bike-n-raft for somebody staying in TKA, or mellow camping trip.

Downsides would be this is a commercial “tourist” trip so it may lose some luster for this more independent crowd, there is a big tour-boat operator running out of TKA up the Susitna (don’t think they run up the Chulitna) so have to watch out for them speeding by the last mile or two, and the usual wide basin winds may play havoc if they flare up. Certainly was nice to hit early before the tours get started and having the whole river to myself.

Take advantage of the tourist season!

Every day (multiple times a day, it’s either every hour or every other hour but I can’t remember) the Princess Lodge runs a shuttle from Mt. McKinley Princess to Talkeetna and back. If you go to Mahays in downtown Talkeetna and talk to the Princess shuttle driver, a $5 tip will usually get you a ride from Talkeetna to the Bridge - thus no shuttling required. These days you’d spend way more than that in gas at minimum.

If the wind is screaming up river it’ll be a long day on the Chu…

Thanks for the the Chulitna report.
What is an estimated time for the float from mile 133 to Talkeetna?
Or other put ins and take outs.
Thanks again,

4-5 hours is probably a good estimate of float time for a packraft, as stated above headwinds would throw that out the window.