Campbell Creek is a short, one-day paddle in a municipal setting, but the river has potential fishing activities and a fresh greenbelt of forest and creek environment. It is more likely to be a really good place to practice early season paddling in preparation for a longer trip or as a first trip for a beginner paddler in a raft or packraft. Even though the water is shallow, it can move very quickly and is not suited for rigid-hull kayaks or canoes. The creek is only 6 miles of recommended distance and is Class I with an occasional Class II riffle but beware of many sweepers and overhanging trees blocking the way. There are fishing restrictions to be familiar with, as well.
It starts in the Chugach Mountains of east Anchorage and runs, free flowing, to Turnagain Arm, passing through many neighborhoods along the way.
The best starting point for this run would be the Campbell Creek Park on Lake Otis Parkway.
For a very short trip of an hour or two you could take out at the point where the Old Seward Highway crosses the creek, very near to the International Airport Road intersection adjacent to 54th Avenue. Otherwise, float all the way to Campbell Lake and take out along the northwest shore near Curlew Circle.
Campbell Creek Park to Old Seward Highway: 1.8 miles
This upper section is a small creek with narrow and shallow sections of river with some sharp 90-degree bends and lots of tree branches to push under. It is just less than two miles in length. The stream depth is only 6 to 12 inches and stream width only 6 to 12 feet. The take out is where the Old Seward Highway crosses the stream and has a short carry to where a car can be reached.
Old Seward to Campbell Lake: 4.2 miles
Beyond the Old Seward, the Creek continues as a narrow creek. Brushy banks and down-leaning tree branches are the obstacles that you will encounter. Of course, even in Anchorage watch out for moose in the creek and along the bank. A person could take out before the lake where the creek crosses under Arctic Boulevard, near the intersection with Dimond. But a short bit more floating brings you to the Campbell Lake where you can take out. There is good access along the northwest shore, just before and after entering the lake.
- The river runs through many residential and business areas, while many people do not mind fishermen, a few bad apples leaving trash and causing problems on the creek has lead to some private land owners closing access to the creek from their lands. Look for signs and respect property rights in the area.
- Some will carry a small folding saw in case there is a complete blockage by trees down or overhanging.
- There are quite a few fishing regulations to be aware of if fishing for salmon and trout are your reasons for floating. Check with Anchorage municipality or Fish and Game for specifics.