Herbert River

South and east of Cordova, including Yakutat, Glacier Bay, Juneau and on down the Panhandle
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hippotour
Posts: 22
Joined: Sun May 01, 2011 10:42 pm

Herbert River

Post by hippotour » Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:26 pm

Herbert is a great day trip worth the drive. I ran this a few times last year. I do't have current beta so expect some changes due to rock shifts and wood forming. I don't think I will have to time to post a better report before leaving for the summer. So here is "better than nothing".

I have not run this river yet this year. Expect wood, and be ready for it.

  It was pretty flooded/pushing when we ran it.  Walking trail and put in right bellow glacier.  River right of island was no go-log jam, river left went.  Pretty clear of wood for a bit longer, then things start to get steep.  There was a long series of class  III IV.  I think at lower water it would be II-ish. Similar feel to Eagle River. At low flow watch for undercut rocks and possible foot entrapment. Those rapids end and the river turns left, a big pool had formed just past the turn left.  A steep rapid leads into a short gentle section, then another supper steep rapid that takes you under a foot bridge.  There is a big eddy on river right just after bridge.  River wide log jam just past eddy.  Make sure you pull out after this bridge.  Walk the fishing trail over the bridge and put in just down river.  Rest is pretty chill, a couple splashes but mostly just moving around wood.  When we ran it water was high enough that we could just scoot around trees, at lower levels it may be river wide, so practice some caution here, there may be dragons.

jwood81
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:52 am

Re: Herbert River

Post by jwood81 » Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:42 pm

I did this trip on Sunday, June 27, 2014. I'd say the river was at a solid medium flow, but this was the first time I'd pack rafted down it. The Mendenhall gauge was reporting between 7-7.5' on this day (for reference).

Overall, this is a great day trip and well worth the 4-6 hours it takes. You get great views of the Herbert Glacier and the float out is exciting and then relaxing. I was surprised at how little wood I had to deal with. Apparently some jet boaters have put in a fair amount of work on this river clearing it of sweepers, strainers, etc. Be sure to thank them if you run into them! Ultimately I only had to portage 1 or 2 very short sections.

The hike in is easy-peasy. This would be a great one to bike-raft as the trail is popular for bikers. It is possible to scout a bit of the river on the hike in, but not much. Plan to read and run. It takes about 2 hours to get to the put in moving at a casual pace.

I put in below the last big rapid at the base of the glacier. There are some exciting rapids and holes above the put-in, but I'm not sure they're appropriate for a pack raft... They're certainly out of my comfort zone at this point. Immediately below the put-in there is a fun wave-train section of river. After this the river is a bit more mellow but there are a few other exciting sections with fun waves and manageable holes. Most of this is found in the upper 1/3 of the river.

I took the river right side of the island. It was pretty mellow with 1-2 portages required. Again, these were easy as far as portages go. Next time I do this I'll most likely head down the river left channel at the island. I suspect it might be a bit more fun.

As hippotour mentions, this is a dynamic river with respect to wood, so always be ready to get out and do a bit of scouting--especially around blind corners, etc. When I did it, it was in great shape (much better than the Eagle River) with respect to sweepers and strainers.

I took out right before the highway bridge and walked back to the parking lot.

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