Wood-Tikchik State Park

Overview

Located in southwestern Alaska, in one of the richest fisheries in the world, the Wood-Tikchik State Park has a great, easy to moderate float trip that is perfect for families with wilderness camping experience and for diehard fishing enthusiasts. From the furthest inland lake to Dillingham, Alaska is a 130-mile trip that involves paddling your way the length of 4 large lakes and down the three rivers that connect the lakes and then down the Wood River to Dillingham. Allow 7 to 10 days to complete the journey. There is, at most, Class II rapids for 2 miles down the Agulukpak River but the biggest challenge is paddling the length of the large lakes, especially when the wind is creating whitecap conditions. The lakes encompass jagged peaks, alpine valleys and deep fiord-like inlets at the western lake ends. There are a few commercial fishing lodges with motorboats about, but there is a lot of wilderness appeal also. With so many lake miles to cover, the trip is best suited to a canoe or kayak, but a small raft can be paddled as well, if you are willing to struggle against occasional headwinds from the west.

Put In

You must first get to Dillingham, Alaska via regularly scheduled air services from Anchorage. Once in Dillingham you will need to charter a floatplane to take you to the lake of your choice. The upper most lake is Lake Kulik. Pilots will land you most anywhere and may know some good camping beaches to take you to.

Take Out

There are a couple of take out options. For the full monty you will want to float all the way to Dillingham along the Nushagak River near its mouth. Here is where the regular commercial flights can take you back to Anchorage. The other option would be to take out at the end of the last lake at the village of Aleknagik, which is connected to Dillingham by a 25 mile road. You would need to arrange the road transfer to eliminate a short flight to Dillingham. If your budget allowed it you could charter all the way back to Anchorage from Aleknagik, but at substantial more cost than a commercial flight out of Dillingham.

The Trip

Lake Kulik to Dillingham: 130 miles

From Dillingham to Lake Kulik is a flight over the rich country that heads Bristol Bay, one of the world's greatest fisheries and wildlife habitats. A common starting point is where at the inlet to the lake. A small stream that drains Grant Lake enters Lake Kulik near its mid-point and there is a good campsite there. It is about 10 miles to where the Wind River exits the lake. This is a 2.5-mile section of swift river running through boulders with a few Class II spots to negotiate. Next, there is the mile long Mikchalk Lake and then its outflow, the Peace River, an easy Class I section. The Golden Horn Fishing Lodge is located along here and is a potential starting point to fly in to. Once the Peace River runs out, you are in Lake Beverly. The western arms of this lake are gorgeous fjord-like bodies of water with some hiking potential up the steep hillsides. The two arms are known as the Golden and Silver Horns. You will have to travel most of the length of this lake to its eastern end where the Agulukpak River begins and where, for 2 miles of Class I and sometimes Class II, rapids are found. The river is swift and boulder strewn. This river takes you to Lake Neka, the longest stretch of lake you have to paddle, with over 50 miles of no current. The way is westerly for 25 miles to where Elbow Point marks the turn around at Frog Mountain. From there it is another 25 miles to where the next river issues out and downstream to the next lake. The western arm of Lake Narka is another lovely fjord-like body of water with limited campsites. There is a possible hike up Elva Creek. Be forewarned that high winds can make this a treacherous stretch of paddling in times of bad weather. From Lake Narka take River Bay to where it becomes the Agulowak River, a 5-mile section of Class I river. This brings you to Lake Aleknagik, the last of the big lakes and another 20+ mile paddle, usually with tail winds, to the village of Aleknagik where you might choose to end your trip. It is here a vehicle can be hired to take you the 25-mile road to the Dillingham Airstrip. If you choose to continue, there are 20 miles of Class I river to paddle to where you will join the much larger Nushagak River and a short distance more brings you to the town of Dillingham on the right hand shore. The airstrip is a good distance a way and some sort of transport will be needed to move you and your gear.

USGS Maps

Dillingham B-1, B-2, C-1, C-2, D-1, D-2
Goodnews Bay B-1, C-1

Distance

130 miles

Days

7-10

Difficulty

Easy/Moderate

Class

I, II

Craft

Canoe
Kayak
Raft

Cost

$$$

Getting There

Coordinates
Latitude: 59.782669
Longitude: -158.754044

Show Map

Wood-Tikchik State Park Points

For the full mon­ty you will want to float all the way to Dilling­ham along the Nusha­gak Riv­er near its mouth. Here is where the reg­u­lar com­mer­cial flights can take you back to Anchorage.

You must first get to Dilling­ham, Alas­ka via reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled air ser­vices from Anchor­age. Once in Dilling­ham you will need to char­ter a float­plane to take you to the lake of your choice. The upper most lake is Lake Kulik. Pilots will land you most any­where and may know some good camp­ing beach­es to take you to. 

Take out at the end of the last lake at the vil­lage of Alek­nagik, which is con­nect­ed to Dilling­ham by a 25 mile road. You would need to arrange the road trans­fer to elim­i­nate a short flight to Dilling­ham. If your bud­get allowed it you could char­ter all the way back to Anchor­age from Alek­nagik, but at sub­stan­tial more cost than a com­mer­cial flight out of Dillingham.