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The recreation area takes in 254,000 acres along the river valley and over the rolling mountains of heather around it. Some of Interior Alaska's best hiking and floating are found here. As everywhere in the Interior, the mosquitoes are brutal.

Activities

Fishing -- Several of the ponds in the Chena State Recreation Area are stocked with rainbow trout, which you can keep subject to harvest limits. Signs along the road mark access points to the ponds and river. You can catch and release Arctic grayling in the Chena, but check current regulations and bait restrictions. Contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 1300 College Rd., Fairbanks, AK 99701 (tel. 907/459-7207, sportfish information recording 907/459-7385; www.alaska.gov/adfg).

Hiking & Backpacking -- The best trail hikes in the Fairbanks area are in the Chena Hot Springs State Recreation Area, all of which start on the road. Backcountry camping requires no permit, and many of the trails go above the tree line, so it's a good area for backpackers to get into the wilderness. Trail descriptions are available from the information sources mentioned in the previous section.

The Angel Rocks Trail is a sometimes steep hike of around 4 miles round-trip to a group of large granite outcroppings, an impressive destination with good views of the valley below.

The 15-mile-loop of Granite Tors Trail, starting at mile 39.5 of the road, is a challenging dayhike rising through forest to rolling alpine terrain, but the towering tors on top more than reward the effort.

For a longer backpacking trip, the Chena Dome Trail makes a 29-mile loop, begging at mile 50.5 and ending at mile 49.1.

River Floating -- The Chena is a lovely river, growing from a clear, frothy creek near the end of the road to a lazy, brown class I river as it flows off toward Fairbanks, several days downstream. Where you choose to start depends on your expertise. Easier water is downstream from Rosehip Campground (mile 27), with the slowest of all nearer Fairbanks, but the upper portion is more popular if you are up for something a bit more challenging. The road crosses the river several times, and the state park system has developed other access points, so it's possible to plan a float that matches your time and abilities. Choose your route with the help of the river guide produced by the Alaska Division of Parks. Chena Hot Springs Resort offers guided raft trips down the Chena .


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.