Upper Ship Creek

Three of us hiked into the North Fork of Ship Creek from the South Fork of Eagle River on August 27th, 2006. We put on the North Fork approximately 1 mile above the confluence with the main stem or South Fork. The first mile on the North Fork was fast Class III with numerous sweepers (approximately 10 in a mile). Below the confluence with the South Fork the water remained swift Class II with abundant sweepers.

Has anyone done the South Fork coming in either from Ship Lake or Indian? How about the upper North Fork coming in from Bird Creek?

Brad Meiklejohn

Brad, did you find out if packrafting from Ship Lake is a good trip? It is awful tempting looking down on the lake from Ship Pass. Thanks, Will Watson

A few weeks ago I decided to satisfy my curiosity and hiked into upper Ship Creek from Glen Alps trailhead. I started at noon, dropped down over Ship Lake pass and walked to upper Ship from there. Upper Ship is a series of beaver dams/lodges and the trail going north on river left (towards the forks) disappears quite quicky after you reach the creek. That is about 8.5 miles in from Glen Alps. The trail then becomes a bushwack for a bit through the meeting of all the tributary streams there in upper Ship (just north of Indian pass). The trail reappears as a not too well broken horse trail (occasionally disappearing entirely for short stretches) for the next six miles until you reach the forks. It was here that I finally found enough water to float.

I put in and for the next six miles I encountered 14 creek-wide sweepers that I had to portage around. That, coupled with scouting around many a bend and I bet I got out of my boat well over 20 times. On the upside the rafting was fun class 2+ with lots of boulder dodging, wave trains and little ledges to drop over. It was like red gate on Willow but more technically interesting. (There were a couple of rapids in that six mile stretch that may have been class III.) Unfortunately I was out of my boat so much scouting and portaging that it really took a lot of the enjoyment out of it.

I guessed correctly and took out right before Ship enters military land (all boat travel closed there). I found the trail right away on river right (a real mudwallow for a mile or so) and it quickly left Ship behind as it began its climb up towards Arctic Valley Road. It was about 3 miles to Arctic Valley Road from there. Unfortunately it was 1 am at this point and the military had closed the gate so my wife was waiting for me about 4 miles down the road. I ran that and finally finished at 2 am. It was about a 27 mile trip and took me about 14 hours. I’m glad I did it but I don’t think I will ever do it again. The amount of portaging that the rafting took just wasn’t worth all that hiking. Fun times though!

Ryan Hickel