Moose Creek

Forums Alaska Rivers Mat-Su Valley Region Moose Creek

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    Jule Harle

      SOURCE: The Alaska Packraft Guidebook: Premier Rivers & Creeks in the 49th State (1st ed) Copyright: 2022 by Jule Harle.  Refer to the guidebook for additional info, photos, waypoints or detailed river maps. Author permission required to reproduce, duplicate or transfer following content.

      Difficulty: <400 cfs: III, >400 cfs: III+
      Length: 3 miles
      Gauge: USGS Moose Creek NR at Palmer
      Shuttle: 3 miles
      Put-in: Bridge at end of Buffalo Mine Rd 

      Takeout: Before Tsadaka Canyon

      Character:  Although Alaska must have a ton of “Moose Creeks,” this one stands out in regards to roadside accessible class III+ whitewater, and is only 15 minutes from downtown Palmer.  This is a small volume clear water run that can be packrafted at various flows.  The creek is fast & rocky with fairly continuous whitewater although there aren’t currently any named or notable rapids (there used to be a 10 ft waterfall followed by various slides/ledges…this is no longer the case).  The wood factor & lack of eddies at high flows render the consequences greater than class III.  I wouldn’t suggest this run for large parties- the lack of large eddies & swift currents combined with high chances of wood = no bueno. 🙁

      Note: I don’t feel good about leaving valuables in my car at put-in or takeout…

      Water Level:  Anything below 250 cfs feels pretty low- expect to slide over & hit numerous rocks.  The creek begins to “soften” and becomes less rocky around 350 cfs, but then begins to feel fast & pushy over 500 cfs.  It can be run as high as your heart’s desire, but knowing the current wood situation is a good idea if getting on Moose Creek with high flows, as the already tiny eddies begin to flush out & become harder to catch.

      Put-in Description: From Palmer, drive North on Hwy 1 for about 5 miles; taking a left on Buffalo Mine Rd (signed).  Drive down this road (it will turn into gravel) for 8 miles, until a private bridge crosses the creek. 

      Takeout Description: Most people take out before Tsadaka Canyon & the highway bridge.  Look for a large turnaround area, 4 miles down Buffalo Mine Rd, where the pavement ends.  From here, there is a dirt road & leading down to the creek with a large turnaround at the end.

      River Description:

      Jule hiking around wood at the bridge put in. Wood is prevalent in this run! Gauge: 300 cfs

      Looking downstream from the bridge gives you a good idea of what’s in store: continuous features, although the gradient feels steeper & moves more technical in a few sections downstream. Paddling Moose Creek involves lots of quick moves as you negotiate the non-stop train of waves, small holes & granite boulders.  Decent sized eddies are few & far between, although single boat micro eddies exist throughout the run.  

      Catching these micro eddies and a diligent observation of what’s downstream is essential on this run, as it has a bad reputation for holding wood.  The creek has many blind bends & swift turns; getting on this creek with higher flows combined with not knowing the current wood situation could get dangerous pretty quickly.  In addition to natural wood hazards, metal debris from past mining activity is often seen in the river- stay aware of sharp metal bits alongside the edges.

      In the 1990’s the creek had a 10 foot waterfall, Moose Falls, about 1 mile from the highway bridge.  The falls was in Tsadaka Canyon, a short but deep & steep walled mud stone canyon.  According to American Whitewater, the waterfall section was not actually the creek’s natural course, but the result of a stream diversion in the early 1900’s to expose the riverbed for placer mining; the stream has since been re-routed to its natural course, so the waterfall no longer exists.  Aw shucks.

      However, running this lower section of the creek has not been recommended in recent years, as the wood situation is notorious for being a burden, making the run not worth doing as the portages are high in number.  The preferred gravel turnaround take out is easy to miss from the water- scout it out beforehand if it’s your first time down.

      Continuous class II/III boogie at most levels. Gauge: 300 cfs


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    Forums Alaska Rivers Mat-Su Valley Region Moose Creek