Sunday, July 14, 2013

Denali Highway--Hiking Brushkana Creek Trail to old Alaska Road Commission cabin

We drove the Denali Highway Thursday. Friday and Saturday--stayed at Brushkana campground on Friday night. The campground, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, is a lovely little facility on the banks of Brushkana Creek, which tumbles down out of the Talkeetna mountains and empties into the Nenena River.

Open spruce and scrub benchland above Brushkana Creek
On Saturday morning we hiked the Brushkana Creek trail (about three miles one way) which leads up onto the benchlands above the creek and then down again into the creek bottom, near where Monahan Creek joins the Brushkana. We saw plenty of moose and bear tracks. If you hike this trail it would be advisable to take along bear spray (which we did).

On the benchlands the trail grew rockier as we approached the creek bottom and it was easier to bushwhack cross-country. As we worked out way through the open Taiga we could still catch glimpses of the trail off to our left. (In the photo above, that bright dot in the distance is my wife, Betsy.)

Trail through creek bottomland

 The creek bottom is quite a bit more overgrown that the benchland, but where the trail reached bottom it was easy to make out bridge supports where the old Cantwell-Denali trail crossed the creek.

Old bridge supports
The trail, put through after the Alaska Railroad was opened in the 1920s, stretched from Canwell (at the railroad)  east  to the old mining community of Denali on Valdez Creek (on the other side of the Susitna River).

Alaska Road Commission shelter cabin

Farther on down the trail is an old Alaska Road Commission shelter cabin. (The cabin is boarded up to prevent vandalism.) This is one of the few remaining examples of ARC shelter cabins in the region.

Looking north across the lower section of the creek

On the way back to the campground we bushwhacked our way along the edge of the benchlands, which gave us some spectacular views of the country. I suppose you could work you way back along Brushkana Creek, but the creek winds through the country and the hike would take considerably longer. Grayling fishing is supposed to be great along the creek, though.

View down the creek
View up the creek

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