Chena River State Recreation Area is about a half hour drive east of Fairbanks, Alaska. It encompasses 254,080 acres of river basin, alpine areas, and granite tors (isolated granite pinnacles that rise out of the tundra). We were delighted to see numerous moose in the many little lakes around the Chena River. We were transfixed by this large moose who would dunk her head under the water and come up with a mouthful of plants. She was quite efficient in her eating, as she would dunk her head under water while she was still chewing the last batch. Moose can grow up to 7 feet tall, weight 1,500 pounds, and eat up to 60 pounds of vegetation per day.
The moose also transfixed our two furry companions.
We saw these two juvenile moose resting in another lake down the road. Their mom was dining nearby in the middle of this lake. In all, we’ve seen about a dozen moose so far on our trip, all but one in Alaska.
The Fairbanks area is not known for its spectacular scenery like the rest of Alaska, but the rolling forested hills were still quite beautiful and reminded us of home in Kentucky. However, we discovered a huge difference between this Alaska forest and a Kentucky forest when we briefly hiked off trail. This Alaska forest is covered with a nearly impenetrable blanket of spongy permafrost.
We dispersed camp along the Chena River. The weather had been fantastic since we arrived in Alaska a week ago: mostly sunny and warm every day. The perfect weather was briefly interrupted one evening by a thunderstorm.
We normally avoid multi-use trails, as they tend to be dominated by noisy ATVs and motorbikes. But we decided to give the Stiles Creek Trail a shot, and we’re glad we did. We didn’t see any ATVs until the end, it was a gorgeous day with just enough breeze to keep the aggressive Alaska mosquitoes at bay, and the trail was beautiful and green.
The trails was also very muddy in some places, but that’s why we wear waterproof hiking boots.
We sat on the spongy forest carpet and enjoyed our lunch with a nice view of the rolling hills.
Back at our dispersed camping spot, we went for a late evening hike along the Chena River. Yes, this is how bright it is around 9pm just one day after the summer solstice.