DOROTHY CREEK, hike to the waterfall.
This is a popular hike among locals, an easy hike to a great spot, which begins at the mouth of an extensively mined creek.
Refer to geological survey map Nome D-1.
Difficulty: Easy. However, our preferred route will require you to gain about 700 feet of elevation. We’ve done it with 8-year-old children.
Distance: About 3 miles round-trip. Requires river crossing.
Begin the hike at approximately Mile 24 of the Kougarok Road, 64° 49’ 50" N, 165° 13’ 15" W. Park along the road and head west, crossing the Nome River. There is a private cabin in the area; please respect its owners’ privacy. The mounds of gravel are tailings from mining operations.
Some people hike up the creek itself, and with care, it’s possible to keep dry if your hiking shoes are waterproof.
Hiking up the creek, however, it’s possible to box in a bear, and to avoid that possibility, we usually hike high along hill 957. That’s the hill to your left, on the south side of the creek.
Climb straight up. The only bushwhacking occurs as you cross the Miocene Ditch, about 150 feet above the Nome River. You’ll want to hike near the top of 957, aiming right, as the lower part of this hill is ankle-busting steep. Hiking around the right (initially north-facing) slope of the hill, as it follows the creek, you will eventually find yourself heading south. After about a mile and a half, you will see a small falls below you.
Hike above the falls, and turn west, crossing the stream. Just below the falls on the western side, it’s a daring, but carefully do-able scramble down the steep side to the creekbed. After enjoying the grotto of the falls, we usually hike out along the creek.
On the way out, watch for slippery rocks. As the valley widens, take time to inspect the remains of the old flume that carried Miocene Ditch water across the entrance of this narrow notched valley. At 400 feet, this flume was the second longest along the Miocene Ditch.
By the way, the name Dorothy was first reported for this creek in 1901. Was Dorothy the girlfriend of the first miner to reach the creek? Nobody knows.