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Sixmile Creek Public Mining Site, Alaska

Most of the following information was derived from GOLD PANNING, A guide to recreational gold panning on the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Alaska (1997) found here  - See the full text for more information and details. Some of the information in the publication is out-of-date and so additional notes have been added when needed.

Sixmile Creek Panning Area

Sixmile Creek was named by early prospectors who determined it to be six miles up Turnagain Arm from Cook Inlet. Gold was discovered in Sixmile Creek in 1895. Hydraulic mining was attempted in the 1930s and several small suction dredge operations have gone on in recent years. Up to 2,000 oz, of gold have been produced from the creek, mainly in the area just below the confluence of Sixmile and Canyon Creeks. A withdrawal, bounded by the east bank of Sixmile Creek and a line 200 ft. west of the center line of the Hope Road, is available for recreational panning from 0.7 miles to 5 miles north of the Hope Junction.

Map to Bertha Creek

Sixmile Creek south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula

Sixmile Creek flows through a broad glacial valley with numerous gravel bars and some bedrock exposures. At mile 2.2 on the Hope Road, park at the pullout on the east side and follow a steep trail down the road embankment. Detour around the beaver ponds to Sixmile Creek (see Figure 8). Gravel bars along this stretch of creek contain flat flour gold and occasional small flakes. Pans have produced 15-20 fine colors of flat, well-worn gold. The north end of the gravel bar is best where a side meander draining the beaver ponds returns to Sixmile Creek. Fanning of gravel on bedrock at this site can also produce gold, but the sites are best accessed during periods of low water. A rusty-colored quartz float along the creek contains pyrite (fool's gold).

Good panning can be found at mile 4.3 on the Hope Road (not shown on map). Pull off on a short side road into the trees and follow the trail to Sixmile Creek. Gold occurs on point bars to the east and old channels next to the creek.

Sixmile Creek Public Mining Site, Alaska
Sixmile Creek Public Mining Site

Mining rights and guidelines

Here are a few simple guidelines that all recreational gold panners should know.
  • Follow all national forest rules such as camping limits, discharge of firearms, use of trails, etc. These regulations are found in Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), with general prohibitions in part 261. Copies are available at Chugach National Forest offices in Anchorage, Girdwood, and Seward. Regulations may or may not be posted.
  • The Chugach National Forest defines recreational gold panning as the use of hand tools and light equipment including gold pans, suction dredges (4 inches or less), rocker boxes and sluice boxes.
  • Gold pans and manual-feed sluice boxes are allowed year-round in streams listed in this booklet. Four-inch nozzle or smaller suction dredges are allowed in salmon streams from May 15 to July 15 only with a permit from the Department of Fish & Game Division of Habitat 333 Raspberry Rd, Suite 2068 Anchorage, AK 99518 phone 907-267-2821 fax 907-267-2499. Dredges with larger than 4" nozzles may be used but require that the operator file a Notice of Intent with the District Ranger. Sixmile Creek is a salmon stream and so is open to dredging from May 15 to July 15 only.
  • Work only the active stream channel or unvegetated gravel bars. Do not dig in stream banks!
  • Recreational gold panning does not allow you to build structures, cut trees or dig up archaeological historical or paleontological objects. Nor does it give you the right to obstruct others in recreational pursuits.

Recreational gold panning on lands withdrawn from mineral entry is not a mining activity--it is a privilege. Be aware that panning, sluicing, and suction dredging can adversely affect water quality, thereby impacting vegetation, fish, wildlife, and ultimately people.

During the process of separating soil from minerals, silt may be washed into streams, creating turbid water. Fish, fish eggs, and the aquatic insects have difficulty living in heavily silted water because of its reduced oxygen supply.

Avoid washing soil and vegetation into streams, and do not dig in stream banks. This increases silt in the stream and is also dangerous. Many banks are unstable and can slide without warning.

To reduce silt, dig only in active stream gravels. Return rocks or boulders moved during your efforts to their original positions. Aquatic insects, an important food source for salmon, often make their homes under these rocks. A little care will help ensure a healthy water ecosystem for both miners and anglers.

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