Posts Tagged ‘hot springs’

Hutlinana!

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

On a sunny Monday morning, Marsh, Tom, and I headed out to Hutlinana Hot Springs for a day trip.  After a 3 hour or so drive up the Elliot Highway.  None of us had been out that way before and the plan was to scope it out as a destination for future winter trips, perhaps with the twins.

The drive out was uneventful though I had a winter driving reminder on some of the hills, as they were nice and icy in sections.

The references we found on where the Hutlinana Trail started said it starts at mile 130 of the Elliot.  We were somewhat confused when we arrived in the near by area and found the bridge over Hutlinana Creek was at a little past mile 129, and so mile 130 would be on the wrong side of the creek..  After a bit of searching we found a trail and started out.  Alas, the trail we found was not the right one, and we wondered around for a mile or so untill we hit the real trail.  Note the yellow line on the map – thats our route on the way in.  Once we found the correct trail we were off – it was in great shape and super fast walking.

Our side tracking in the begining involved a short stream crossing.  The “real” trail had a number of nice sweepers that made excelent bridges – alas our side trip did not.

The dogs had a wonderful time exploring.  Togiak, my older dog, sat this one out.  She is getting up there in years and longer trips are getting hard on her, especially on warmer days. It was a bit sad to keep her at home, but hopefully she will get some trips in once winter comes for good and the temperatures drop.

The main trail was marked by small socks for the first mile or so, which was a nice touch.  I expect there is a story there..

Once we hit the main trail we found it to be in fantastic shape and super easy to follow.  The trail winds though black spruce and the occasional stands of birches.  Near the hot springs the trail opens up and hits a beautiful large stand of poplars, tastefully decorated by a number of rusty 55 gallon drums.

We arrived at the hot springs after a little under three hours of hiking and were quite surprised by the fantastic shape we found them it.  I had been told they wash out occasionally and was not quite sure what to expect – it turned out previous visitors had constructed a wonderful rock pool that was deep, warm, and fairly free of hot springs funk.

The springs were quite warm and free of any sulfur smell.  It was quite refreshing to soak for a hour or so after the hike in.  The view from the pool was excellent!  Alas, this was a day trip so we headed back out to the car and a long drive home. 

On the way out we passed a couple hiking in – I was fairly surprised at the amount of traffic we encountered as we also passed a party on the way in.  I guess everyone was out enjoying the warm weather before the snow arrives in force. The walk out was uneventful, though we found a caved in cabin we missed on the way in.

The main trail back to the road was much faster than our side route.  There was some shenanigans when the dogs attempted to follow me across a sweeper and Remus attempted to pass Polar by crawling under him while he was walking the trunk of the tree.  This caused Polar to freeze up and get stuck in the middle of the stream on the log, leaving me to walk out to rescue him.

For future reference, the best trail head appears to be the 4th driveway or side road before the bridge on the right hand side heading towards Manley, including the parking area near the bridge. The trail is fairly obvious at that point – you will know you are on the right path if you see some very old junk cars near the start of the trail.

On the drive out we stopped to take a better look at a bus in the ditch – we passed a bus on its side just after the Tolovana trail head.  We stopped briefly on the way in, but keep going after it became obvious that no one was around.  The bus was quite out of place, as it appeared to be a military transport, though perhaps they are used for other purposes too.  We spent a bit of speculating as to what they were doing out this way on the drive back to Fairbanks. Hopefully no one was injured.


This was quite a fun trip and I was thinking about returning later in the year for a overnight ski trip as the trail looked like it would be wonderful skiing, or perhaps a spring ski trip with the twins.  All in all a very pleasent day trip, though a super long drive, alas.