Nishlik/Upnuk Lake and
Tikchik River

(Click on the thumbnails below for larger images.)

Caribou climbing out ... Upper Tikchik River Between September 10th ... Midway down Tikchik River Lower Tikchik River

Nishlik Lake is the smallest of the five lakes that flow into the Tikchik. This does not mean that the lake is small, however. In fact, it is relatively large in size. It would take the better part of a day to row a raft from one end to the other. This is one of the reasons we recommend a 16' or 18' Cataraft inflatable boat with up to a 15-hp outboard motor.

The northwest end of Nishlik Lake is breathtaking. Nestled directly under 1500 to 2000-foot hills, mountain streams trickling into the lake give the whole area an endless sound of tranquility. Hiking is easy on the gentle slope of the tundra leading to the foothills that surround the rest of the lake. The yearly migration of caribou leaves great trails for hiking, and can lead you just about anywhere you may want to go - around the lake, up the gradual incline of the hills, or through the valleys. With imagination and adventurous spirit an avid hiker can literally pioneer the many migration trails that link the Wood-Tikchik State Park.

Six to ten miles away lies Upnuk Lake. Upnuk Lake is the only other lake that flows down to meet the Tikchik River. The northwest end of Upnuk Lake is also directly under 1500 to 2000 foot hills with a glistening lake, and sparkling streams that trickle into the mirror-like water, inviting adventurous spirits to explore. You will most likely be drawn to the huge bay on the south side of the lake, where inside you will find glacier carved hillsides that meet the water's edge. You can hear loons echo their unusual warning system throughout the bay, as well as the beaver slapping the water with his tail. If you don't have time to explore the lake, our amphibious aircraft can pivot in, against the shore next to the outlet of the crystal clear water, where after disembarking you will start your very special adventure.

Please note:
Chest waders are recommended for unloading at the lake.

If you choose to start your float trip from Nishlik Lake, you will find that the river is a small stream at the beginning, and as streams flow in from the sides it gradually increases in size. This river varies in depth and will average about 2 feet deep, and is about 20 to 25 feet wide. Approximately one day’s float down the river, the 4 to 5 mile long river flows out of Upnuk Lake, joins, and doubles the flow of the Tikchik River. If you choose Upnuk Lake for the beginning of your adventure, you see similar terrain and floating conditions to this point.

Trout and grayling are plentiful in the Tikchik River, but for reasons not yet clear, the numbers of salmon migrating to their spawning grounds are significantly less here than other river systems.

If you are floating the river through the months of August and September, you will see migrating caribou swimming across the river, or standing along the banks. Bear can also be seen off and on throughout the float. They don't pose much of a threat to humans. However, they are always willing to rummage through a messy campsite.

Bear sightings vary, depending on the time of year and other factors. The most reported sightings on one float was 22. Towards the lower end of your float trip, the river runs through thick spruce trees. In the fall, moose can be seen standing very still, trying to blend their dark brown capes and velvet-torn, bone white antlers into the background as you float by. All too soon you will be at the end of your 7 day unforgettable adventure on the river.

The mouth of the Tikchik River has partially sunken logs, hidden sandbars, and blunt banks, causing a pickup with our amphibious aircraft to be impractical. Another reason we recommend the outboard motor is for the people who plan to continue down the Nuyakuk River, since they will have to travel 5 to 7 miles down the Tikchik Lake to the entrance of the Nuyakuk River.

If this is as far as you plan to float, 2 miles straight across the lake, on the south side, lies a tree covered island with a small pebbled beach and the most spectacular view any soul could possibly imagine. The sight of Fresh Water Adventures' historic Grumman Goose cresting the distant hillside, rumbling across the silence of the wilderness, is magical. As you embark on your flight back to civilization, you will immediately fly through the mystical wavelike rock formations surmised to be carved by a long since forgotten glacier. This area is also well known for its population of black bear, and on rare occasions black bear can be seen in the open, feeding on berries. As we fly east of Grant Lake, the sixth lake in the Wood River system, the terrain becomes wooded and riddled with small lakes, usually allowing you one last glimpse of a moose feeding on the vegetation.

While we continue our flight to Dillingham, you should have a perfect opportunity to take photographs of the large Wood River lakes with their majestic mountains in the background.

NOTE: The float from Nishlik Lake to Tikchik Lake down the Tikchik River is approximately 15 floating hours. It will take approximately 1 hour to row the 2-mile stretch of lake to the tree covered pickup island. If you reach the end of the river only to be met by high winds and rough water DO NOT cross. Stay put until favorable conditions. Chances are your plane won't be there anyway.

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Click here for new vital information about booking a trip into Chikuminuk, Upnuk, Slate and Nishlik lakes, or, floating the Tikchik River.

For topographic maps covering the Nishlik/Upnuk lakes and Tik-chik river, order: