Upper Upper Willow

The skinny:

Put in: Drive up the Willow side of Hatcher Pass. Before the hard left climbing turn that leads to Craigie Creek, find a mining road on the right. It is shortly after a motocross track area. The road says “no mining” and leads to a small bridge over Willow Creek.

Take Out: The old bridge before the “Upper Willow” section.

This is best run at high water levels (1000+ on Willow Creek gauge). The run is class II/III and goes for many miles. There is a dull section in the middle, but things heat up again at the end. There is one river-wide strainer about halfway through the run. When you see the only trailer structure on the right side of the river, get left!

I think this section of Willow is a lot like Sheep Creek, minus some of Sheep’s cool drops/features. It is a long run and well worth the trip.

Thanks for the info on this one James!

I lost a paddle in the Upper Upper Willow section on 8/24/13. It is a 4 piece Werner Sherpa, 194cm. If someone finds it, please contact me at 907-350-8577. Thanks a bunch.

*see below for notes on the one nasty, must-portage sweeper of this great run

Ran this 9/8 with Willow gauge at 3.4 when leaving Anchorage, 3.76 upon return to Anchorage. Plenty of water, but more wouldn’t hurt.

To clarify, there’s one must portage sweeper, in the upper 1/2 of the float. You will pass a small (mini barn shaped?) metal-roofed cabin on the right that sits close to the water. Almost the whole front of this cabin, which faces the water, is windowed. Start paying attention here. Not long after you will pass another dwelling on river right that is harder to see; it’s brown with a flat roof. When this comes into view you will see a gravel bar with logs/stumps/fallen trees on river left. Find a place to eddy out and get on to this gravel bar before it takes a sharp left turn into disaster. Around that blind corner left turn is a VERY NASTY river wide sweeper in a narrow channeled section with big waves. You do not want to have any interaction with this wood.

Other than that the run is good, clean fun!