Salcha River / Munson Bluff
Distance: Half mile round trip to bluff
Elevation Gain: 350 feet
Trail Type: Hiking
Considerations: Trail can be hard to find. Please respect grave sites.
The Salcha River State Recreation Area is a nice spot to hang out in the summer, especially on the gravel bar that occupies a wide turn in the river. The grounds though, are not really big enough to offer much in the way of walking or hiking. Just down the road though is a big, sage covered river bluff that offers a nice short but steep hike to a great viewpoint over the Salcha and Tanana Rivers with vast lowlands and the Alaska Range beyond. These dry, sunny bluffs along the Tanana River are the best place to enjoy early spring in interior Alaska. These slopes face the sun directly and warm up nicely in April and early May. Pasque flowers are the first growing thing to show up in this part of the world, and this bluff is covered in them in early May. This walk is most useful as a leg stretcher to anyone driving the Richardson Highway between Delta and Fairbanks, and probably isn’t worth it unless you’re already driving the road.
From Delta, drive about 60 miles on the Richardson, towards Fairbanks, cross the Salcha River, take a right on Munson Slough Road, and park in the pullout that’s immediately on your left. The path is a little hard to spot at first, but reasonably obvious, leading steeply up the hill. Quickly you’ll pass a grave site on a sunny knoll (not sure what the story is behind this). Take a left at the graves and look for a faint path leading through the forest up the hill. Soon come out onto the open, rocky, sage covered bluff and climb steeply up a minor ridge to the top. The walk is only about a quarter mile long, but very steep, gaining almost 400 feet. A faint path leads away from the bluff through spruce woods and intersects a powerline. Take a left down the hill, and you’ll run into the Salcha Ski Trails.