Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Autumn hike to Colorado Creek Roadhouse - Chena River State Recreation Area

My grandson and I went looking for the old Colorado Creek Roadhouse this past weekend. It was one of three roadhouses built in the early 1900s along the old winter trail from Fairbanks to Chena Hot Springs.

This is the pullout at about Mile 31 where the trail we took starts. At Mile 31.6 is the Colorado Creek Trailhead, but that trail leads to a modern recreation cabin farther up the creek. It's possible to reach the roadhouse from there but the trail is longer than the one we took and leads through a marshy area that is hard to travel when the ground is thawed.
This is the start of the trail we took. It's probably a little over a mile from Chena Hot Springs Road to the roadhouse. The trail takes pretty much a straight path up the creek drainage until reaching the old winter trail about a mile from the road. It is marked as a non-motorized use trail.
 The trail a little farther from the road as it gently climbs through a black spruce forest. It was a little soggy in spots but not too bad.
 The short-cut trail we took meets up with the old winter trail a few hundred yards from Colorado Creek. This is our first view of the roadhouse--on the other side of the creek. You can see the creek peeking through the bushes at the lower right. There were plenty of fresh moose tracks all around, and a goodly scattering of bear scat.
 A closer look at one of the roadhouse cabins across the creek. We had heavy rains all summer and there was quite a bit of erosion along the creek bank. The log across the creek that we saw in that 2012 aerial photo isn't there any more.
 Looking back at Colorado Creek after we have crossed. Any other year in recent memory and the creek's water level would have already dropped and we probably could have jumped or easily waded across. This year the shallowest spot I found still had thigh-high water. I forded the creek with grandson on my back. Needless to say, we left some gear on the far side since we had to return the same way.
 The cabin closest to the creek. The roof is still on, but the walls have collapsed.
The second cabin, which appears to have been 1.5 stories, Two years ago it still had a roof. Both cabins have sunk about four feet into the muskeg.
 Peaking over the ruined wall of the second cabin
View out the gable-end cabin window. This window is located over a door (or maybe another window--can't tell any more). It used to be about 10 feet off the ground, now it's head height.

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