Ship Creek (AK) Access Issue

Posted: 12/09/2009
by Thomas O'Keefe

Ship Creek Canyon has been known for several years as a great Alaskan whitewater run just outside downtown Anchorage. The trail to the creek is on Forest Service land but the creek itself flows through the military's Fort Richardson light-tactical training area, that has been open to some forms of permitted recreation, but not watercraft.

For several years there was no enforcement and just the occasional warning but it appears the base is taking things more seriously and unfortunately local paddler Tim Johnson has been summoned to appear in United States District Court in Anchorage next week for the charge of trespassing on military land for paddling Ship Creek this past summer.

The reasons for not allowing boating are not entirely clear and American Whitewater is in the process of doing additional research on the issue. There is an old dam at the bottom of the canyon which is a hazard to navigation requiring boaters to portage. The dam has been identified as a candidate for removal and in the meantime, many local paddlers have expressed an interest in developing a formal portage trail around it so that kayakers and packrafters can safely and responsibly paddle this great section of whitewater.

Local paddlers have developed a petition in support of paddling on Ship Creek. For additional information and background on the issues please check out the Ship Creek Recreation Access page on Life More Natural. Several members have contacted us on this issue and if you would like to help or otherwise become more involved please contact us.

Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012

Associated Rivers