This is a pack raft hike-in run.
There are several put-in options on McCarthy Creek. One option is to walk the creek trail that follows the east side of the river. Start by crossing the private bridge next to the St. Elias Alpine Guides/Copper Oar (SEAG) powerhouse building. After you cross the bridge there is a ATV trail on the left, that is the trail. You can follow that trail either 2 miles or 5 miles up to put-ins. This trail is sometimes unmaintained, difficult and hard to find, but for the most part it is obvious.
The next option is to hike "up and over" National pass. Take the trail up to Bonanza mine, which can be strenuous. When you are almost up to the mine you will come to an overlook/campsite on the right that overlooks a switching station for the old ore tramway. Continue up the bonanza trail and then take the next ATV trail on the right towards the switching station. You now are entering private property and you should do your best to respect the property owner's privacy and property. From the switching station you side hill up to the pass, usually on some snow and slippery rocks. From there you go over the pass and head down the rock glacier on the other side. Stay to the left down the glacier.
For the "up and over" you have 16 miles down the river, but after about 1/2 mile depending on where you put in, you come to a significant canyon. You can see the walls closing up. It's definitely the most serious part of the run, there is a good portage/scout trail on the left. Depending on flow the canyon is at least partially class IV or V and is almost impossible to climb out of if you swim. After the canyon you have pretty continuous class III+. The most challenging bits are in the first maybe 5 miles, then gets a little easier, then the last 2 miles are more class II. If you don't do the "up and over" the 5 mile run has some good class III rapids, and the last 2 miles is mostly class II.
There are usually strainers in the river. Most can be avoided but new ones are always popping up. Be prepared! Wear a drysuit, PFD and don't go alone.
For a good idea of flows, walk to the take-out of McCarthy Creek next to SEAG. For average flows it should look shallow and full of gravel bars. You can also ask guides at SEAG and MRTO for what the river is flowing.
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