Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

Exploring the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area: Canyon Creek pull-off

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CANYON CREEK PULL OFF: GOLD MINING ON THE KENAI

Short Description: In many way this area was ground zero for the mining activity in this area.  Interpretative signs provide a wealth of information.  Canyon Creek Bridge provides  unique opportunity to see “old” Seward Highway.

Required Equipment: None

Suggested Equipment: Notebooks.  Tape Measure

Safety Consideration: Steep cliffs  into gorge.  At Forks, rushing high volume streams.

Other Info: Pit Toilets are available at turn off and on way down to the Forks.

Instructional Opportunities:  Mining

The “top” parking area provides a huge wealth of interpretative signs discussing the mining activity in this area. Signage discusses the area history, mining methods, and various personalities. This stop should be joined with a visit to Hope and to the mining site at Resurrection Creek.

After reading the signs, a visit to the creek below the bridge might be in order —access is from the Hope Highway. The road is gravel and somewhat steep but is bus accessible with a turnaround at the bottom.

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Although there is little evidence of the former bustling mining activity, this stop provides a lovely lunch spot to contemplate the history of the area.

Caution: The confluence of Canyon Creek and Six Mile is very turbulent with eroded unstable banks. Avoid the area down river from the parking lot.

 

Don’t forget the bridge.

Much of the Seward Highway has been rebuilt in the 1990s to the present. A visit to the Canyon Creek bridge provides insight to the perilous nature of the road prior to new construction. (This can be accessed from the parking lot with the interpretative signs.)

The section of road from this point toward Summit was referred to as the “Luge Run” because of its narrow, twisty, and icy nature. Imagine driving, in the winter across this bridge. A common superstition was that the passengers (not the driver) upon approaching the bridge would shut their eyes and hold their breath while crossing.

It’s no wonder that the bridge held that kind of respect. Measure the width of the roadway here, then when returning to your bus measuring the width of your bus and multiply by two. Compare the measures to see why it was unnerving for two large vehicles (buses or semis) to meet on this bridge in the winter.