Having met some miners at lunch that invited us to float the river, we rented kayaks at the Chicken Gold Camp. An hour later, we were making our way down the Fortymile River in little yellow kayaks that were to cool. We stopped to check out the old, abandoned dredge a few miles below Chicken and stopped again at the old camp where the dredge crew stayed. There were a few small rapids that we paddled back up and ran twice...and by the time we reached the suction dredge, there wasn't anyone there. We were picked up at the South Fork Bridge by Josie, the owners daughter, and drove back to Chicken. By the time we changed (got a bit wet), it was too late to make the border (it closes at 8pm) so we rented one of the rooms in the Chicken Coop. A “clucking” fine day we had in this neat little wilderness community. And it was all the finer with all the great folks we met, especially Josie and the miners who helped make it all happen.
Just two miles west of Chicken, at Milepost # 64 on the Taylor Highway, is the Mosquito Fork Bridge Wayside. This lovely spot provides access to the Fortymile Wild and Scenic River Management Area, administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
There is a small parking lot, a watercraft launch area, picnic tables, and a pit toilet which is just a bit more modern than the ones you will find in the town of Chicken. This is an excellent spot to rest for an hour, spend a day, or launch out into the untamed wilderness beyond.
Not far from Beautiful Downtown Chicken I took a short hike along the creek at the Original Chicken Gold Camp and came upon the Pedro Dredge. This was the largest dredge in the Fortymile region and it worked the rich ground in the Chicken Creek drainage from 1959-1967. In its peak mining years, an average run of the dredge - 24 hours a day for two weeks - brought in about $40,000 in gold. Today the dredge is just sitting there rusting, and a sign warns against climbing on it because it could be hazardous.
The soil layers removed during the mining process contain fossil remains. The operations here and at Lost Chicken Mine nearby have recovered many vertebrate fossils from the Pleistocene era, such as mammoth tusks and bones from mammoths, bison, caribou, horses and cats.
For directions ask any of the locals in Chicken.