Primrose Creek

Forums Alaska Rivers Seward and Eastern Kenai Region Primrose 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: IV- (V)
      Length: 3 miles
      Gauge: None, visual at bridge, see “Water Level”
      Shuttle: None, start & end at car
      Put-in: Below waterfall: 60.32672, -149.40413

      Takeout: Primrose Creek Day Use Area

      Character: A relatively accessible clear water canyon that empties into Kenai Lake. Primrose Creek has numerous rapids & a few mandatory portages.  Expect to catch small eddies & get out of your boat to scout the Interruptor rapid series while  keeping a diligent eye open for wood the entire run.

      Water Level: Primrose water levels can be tricky to feel out.  There is no official gauge, but a Seward local attached a ruler to a log near the take out- so there ya go!  An inexact science, but better than nothing.  If you walk down to the water from the day use area, you’ll see the ruler; Primrose is generally worth doing if above 17,” but 26” would be too high.

      The creek is usually open in late May, is flowing heavily from snowmelt by mid June, and tapering off again by mid July.  It can spike again in the summer or fall with considerable rain.  Higher water levels make the portages trickier; it’s helpful to know where they are, as the eddies are small and walk-able rock is limited. 

      HIke Description:  3 miles, 1-1.5 hrs. From the Primrose Creek Day Use Area, follow Lost Lake Trail; after 1/2 mile stay right at the junction.  After 2.5 miles, begin looking for a trail veering off to the right, leading to a waterfall viewpoint & open area.  Start bushwhacking down hill towards the creek- it is very steep & scramble-y in sections.  Put-in near the waterfall, at the confluence of Primrose & Porcupine Creeks.


      River Description: Time: 1-5-2 hrs. The run begins with numerous read & run class III rapids.  After ¼ mile, you’ll see a giant rock on the left & a steep drop.  Get out & scout the Almost Interrupted (IV-) rapid on the left.  This rapid is arguably class III+, but the continuity, numerous moves & the painful misfortune of a swim early on deem it a higher rating than that.  The best portage is on the left side; it’s possible to do a partial portage, as there are numerous opportunities to put back on, if one wanted to dissect the rapid.  Be sure to look downstream & locate an eddy on the right before the Interruptor, a steep class V drop.  You could portage the Interruptor on either side of the river, but right seems easiest.  After the Interruptor, there is Still Interrupted, a class IV- finale that is better portaged on the left.  Yep, lots of riverside back & forth-ing if you’re portaging in the upper section.

      After the Interruptor rapids, the creek calms down a bit & delivers plenty of class III drops with recovery time between rapids.  If it wasn’t for the wood hazard, this lower section is an ideal training ground for class III paddlers looking for a technical creek experience.  The lower section fares best with water levels above 21 ft; anything lower is pretty bony-expect to knock your butt on rocks.

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    Forums Alaska Rivers Seward and Eastern Kenai Region Primrose Creek