Nabesna to McCarthy

In August, JT Lindholm, Tony Perelli and I completed the Nabesna to McCarthy route along the eastern flank of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The trip goes through some of the most spectacular terrain in Alaska and is highly recommended.

The whole route is approximately 150 miles in length, with the majority (approximately 100 miles) on foot. The boating segments include approximately 10 miles of Class II on Jack Creek and the Nabesna, roughly 7 miles of Class II - III on Notch Creek (if you are lucky to find enough water in Notch Creek), several miles across Upper Skolai Lake and approximately 30 miles of Class II and III on the Chitistone and Nizina rivers. An additional 8 miles of Class III-IV on the Chitistone, between the bottom of the Goat Trail and Glacier Creek, can be boated or walked depending on your gear, confidence, boating skills and water level.

A shorter version of this trip can be done by flying into Skolai Pass and hiking down (and up and down) the Goat Trail to the Chitistone. This is the most spectacular portion of the trip.

There is a great set of photos of the entire route from the air and trip photos and commentary to be found at

Brad Meiklejohn

In September of 2007 11 students form Alaska Pacific University with four instructors (Roman Dial, Eeva Latosuo, Nora Tobin, and Forrest McCarthy) completed the Nabasna to McCarthy route. We were able to put in Jack Creek at the first ford (Class II+) and floated Notch Creek from Williams Creek (Class II) to Cross Creek. We finished on the Skolai variation. After a short float on Skolai Lake we hike down Slolai Creek to Nizina Glacier following the route of the old trail. The trail is still well defined above Frederika Creek. After that we climbed up to about the 4,500 ft contour and worked our way down. It was rugged descending to the Nizana Glacier. Just above the Nizina Glacier we forded Skolai Creek and bush whacked to the lake at the foot of the Glacier. There are some fun III- rapids below the lake for a couple miles. Below that it is a fast and enjoyable Class II float to the May Creek Bridge.

You can see some pictures at

I hope folks don’t mind me resurrecting this old thread - a friend and I did this route this summer, and it was a fantastic trip.

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