Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Waterfall Chasing in Palmer, Alaska - Tuesday, August 23, 2022

First, Happy Birthday to my son, Michael, who turned 43 today! Have a great day, Michael!

This afternoon, we drove around looking for waterfalls. I had a list of three that were within an hour of our campground. Each of them had short, relatively easy hikes. 

The scenery along our drive to 
South Fork Falls.

The scenery along our drive to 
South Fork Falls.

The Knik River in Butte, Alaska.

South Fork Falls (also known as Barbara Falls) in Eagle River, Alaska, was 38.7 miles away. GPS took us to the exact location we needed to be. I had researched these falls ahead of time and knew we were not supposed to park in Ken Logan Circle because it is a Fire Lane. We also could not park by any "No Parking" signs in the neighborhood. As it was a workday afternoon, the trail was not crowded. Besides us, we only saw two ladies on the trail. [NOTE: There isn't a restroom here.]

The trail starts at the gate at the end of Ken Logan Circle. It looks like it used to be a road and the trail is in good condition with some muddy areas that are easily avoidable. Early on, you will cross a small bridge. Part way up the trail is a fork with a sign up in the trees pointing to Barbara Falls. It is the same waterfall. 

Looking upriver from the bridge.

Looking downriver from the bridge.

The forest floor is alive with mushrooms and fungi. The walk is lovely with an easy grade. You will arrive at a viewpoint overlooking the falls. This spot is gorgeous and the falls are flowing full and fast.

These are weird! They are puffballs.

Views of mountains from the trail.

South Fork Falls from the Overlook.

Heading down to the bridge.

The nice wide trail here.

When I read the reviews of this hike, they said to be sure to take the dirt trail upriver from the bridge to get to the base of the falls. We did that. On our way back down from the overlook, we turned left (uphill) on the opposite side of the bridge. The trail is pretty easy and very doable. Use caution around roots and short, steep muddy areas. This trail next to the river is amazing. 

The base of the falls feels very intimate when you get up close to it like this. We enjoyed every bit of the hike! In the reviews, one person mentioned seeing fish going up the river. It's hard to imagine because it's running so hard and fast. We didn't see any, but then, we didn't look for them.

The unmaintained trail next to
the river.

We loved this part of the hike!

The sound of the river
is fierce.

Bob is at the base of South Fork Falls.

This is our favorite waterfall
of the day!!!

Spectacular fan-type waterfall. 

This tree has character.

We are off to waterfall #2, Thunder Bird Falls. I think this is probably the best-known waterfall in the area. There is a good-sized parking lot here which we didn't see at first. (Our GPS took us into a neighborhood way up a hill and told us the waterfall was at the end of a street that was filled with homes. There was no trail there.) Just know that the parking lot for Thunder Bird Falls is on Old Glenn Highway right at the Eklutna River Bridge. 

This is a very busy place and I think it would be hard to find a parking spot here on a weekend or holiday. On a Tuesday afternoon, however, there were numerous spots available. The description of this trail was that there was a steep 100-foot climb and then the trail leveled out. Hah, I beg to differ. The trail goes up and down quite a bit. This trail is two miles out and back with a side trail down to the creek just before the boardwalk to the viewpoint. It started to rain while we were there so we did not go down to the creek today. If we have time, we will go back.

[NOTE: The bathrooms here are nasty. Use restrooms somewhere else before you get here.]

About the people and how they
named places here.

When you are close to the waterfall, 
you will be on this boardwalk.
Mushrooms and fungi are abundant on
this walk as well.

The trail to Thunder Bird Falls is wide and without a lot of roots and rocks. Because we didn't go down to the creek, we can't report on the status of that trail.

Thunder Bird Falls.

As soon as we finished this hike, we were off to waterfall #3, Pioneer Falls. The drive to the falls is lovely with dramatic mountain peaks always in view. This waterfall is the closest to where we're staying at Mountain View RV Park, but it is also the trickiest to find.

Gorgeous mountain scenery along
our drive this afternoon.

We love these views!

Once again, reviews online were very helpful in finding this waterfall. GPS got us to the general vicinity along the Knik River. When we were within one-tenth of a mile, the helpful folks online mentioned looking for a black mailbox with no markings on it. It will look like you're turning into a driveway, but it's actually the parking lot for the falls. We drove past it the first time because there were two black mailboxes and we weren't sure which one it was. When we turned around and headed back, we found the correct one. When you turn into the driveway, it drops down into a big mud puddle. We made it in and out okay in our Ford F350 pickup. A smaller sedan would have to be real careful getting in there. What we can tell you is, that when you are coming up on the correct mileage on your GPS (coming off of the Old Glenn Highway) there will be a silver mailbox, just before the black mailbox where you will turn.

As for the waterfall, it's a tall, complex waterfall. You can see it from the parking lot, but it's hard to see the whole thing. Your best view will be from 100-200' up the trail. Bob went up higher on the trail but came back down shaking his head. He said there was no way to see the whole waterfall any better from up the trail.

Here are the best shots we could get.

Pioneer Falls.

Pioneer Falls.

Below is a video of the top part of Pioneer Falls.

The next video is a continuation of Pioneer Falls, the lower part.

We'd say this was a very successful waterfall-chasing afternoon...three waterfalls in four hours. 

After that, we shopped at Fred Meyer and then headed back to the 5th wheel. Here are some photos of our site at Mountain View RV Park.

There is an Airstream caravan in 
the park with us. 

You can see why they call it 
Mountain View RV Park!

The RV sites are back-to-back, so our view out the back window is of an Airstream trailer. We keep our back drapes closed. We are also very close to the motorhome beside us!

That's all for today, folks!

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