September 22, 2006
The fall is a great time to run Lion’s Head on the Matanuska (Mat)
by small watercraft; (kayak, IK, or packraft) typically being too
shallow to navigate with a full size raft. The trees offer a
wonderful array of colors and the peaks in the area have a touch of
snow on their summits. Last weekend, several folks put in at Caribou
Creek and floated down to the first bridge at the Glacier Park Road.
Dr. Joe, Kim Mincer, Jim Hack, Bill Chapman, Chris Cook, Cornelia
Jessen, and I. Connie and I were in packrafts and the rest were in
kayaks except Kim in her IK, the “Tomcat.” We all were fortunate to
arrive shortly after a semi trailer full of vegetables had toppled
over the bridge and landed directly at the put in. It was a bonus
for us as we walked away with some fresh veggies and fruits and ate
cantaloupe while floating down Caribou creek.
Caribou Creek meanders down for 15-20 minutes or so, getting pretty
shallow in some areas entering the Matanuska in to some easy class 2
water. The Mat is extremely cold so drysuits are a necessity. The
character of the river is basically a set of rapids followed by a
brief respite of Class 1-2. There are about 4-5 rapids that are
Class 3 to 3+ at a lower level like this- roughly 2.75 ft.
Information on river & stream data can be obtained at
It is a fun river, but would recommend that only experienced
packrafters that are comfortable with their ferrying techniques and
water reading abilities attempt this section.