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Sixmile Creek Public Mining Site, Alaska

Steve Herschbach

Sixmile Creek Gold Panning Area

Early prospectors named Sixmile Creek because the creek was about six miles up Turnagain Arm from Cook Inlet. Gold was discovered in Sixmile Creek in 1895. In the 1930s, hydraulic mining was attempted. In recent years, there were several small suction dredge operations.

Sixmile Creek has produced up to 2,000 troy ounces of gold, 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 feet west of Hope Road’s centerline, is available for recreational panning—0.7 miles to 5 miles north of the Hope Junction (Map).

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. Park at mile 2.4 on the Hope Road, at the pull-out on the east side and follow a steep trail down the road embankment to Sixmile Creek (Map). 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 south end of the gravel bar nearest the road is best,
especially on the downstream side of larger rocks. Panning gravel on bedrock downstream from the bar can also produce gold. A rough trail from the north end of the parking lot will reach these sites that are best accessed during low water. Rusty-colored quartz float along the creek sometimes contains pyrite (fool’s gold).

Suction dredges (4-inch or smaller) are only allowed from May 15 to July 15 with a free ADF&G permit and a ADEC permit ($25 annual fee).

You can find good panning at mile 4.3 on the Hope Road (not shown on map). Pull out on a short side road into the trees and follow the trail to Sixmile Creek. You can find gold on point bars to the east and old channels next to the creek.

Sixmile Creek Public Mining Site

 Here are a few simple rules and guidelines that all recreational gold panners must know:

  • Recreational gold panning on the Chugach National Forest consists of the use of hand tools, panning, sluicing, and suction dredging with a 4-inch or smaller intake hose.
  • You must follow all National Forest rules, such as camping limits, discharge of firearms, and use of trails. You can find regulations in Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), with general prohibitions in part 261. Review these regulations before you go gold panning. You can find copies of these regulations on the Internet and at Chugach National Forest offices in Anchorage, Girdwood, Seward, and Moose Pass.
  • You can use gold pans and hand tools-fed sluice boxes year round in the streams listed in this booklet.
  • No hydraulic mining or use of earth-moving equipment is allowed.
  • Work only the active stream channel or unvegetated gravel bars. Do not dig in stream banks!
  • You are not allowed to build structures, cut trees or dig up archaeological, historical, or paleontological objects, nor are you allowed to obstruct others in their recreational pursuits. If you find those objects, please report them to the Chugach National Forest.
  • Suction dredges (4-inch nozzles or smaller) are permitted from May 15 to July 15 only. Remember that permits are required.
  • The Kenai Peninsula is home to brown and black bears. Stay alert and avoid bears whenever possible. For more information, get Bear Facts from the U.S. Forest Service or Alaska Public Lands Information Centers.
  • The water is cold and you can expect to get wet— after all, the gold is in the water. Wear insulated waterproof boots and gloves. Wool clothing can keep you warm even when wet. Bring extra clothing and dress in layers.
  • Keep Alaska green, do not trash or litter. Many places have a $1,000 fine for littering. Follow Leave No Trace principles.

Good luck and good prospecting!

Sixmile Creek, Alaska in 2014

Most of the information above was derived from GOLD PANNING, Guide to Recreational Gold Panning on the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Alaska (2018) found here - See the full text for more information and details.

Edited by Steve Herschbach

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