Chilkoot Trail Itinerary
Wilderness Adventures in British Columbia & Yukon since 1988
Getting to Whitehorse, Yukon
Air Canada [www.aircanada.ca], WestJet [www.westjet.com] and Air North [www.flyairnorth.com] have scheduled flights to Whitehorse. Please check with them or your travel agent for details. .
One of the great features of this hike is the different eco-zones you will travel. We begin in the temperate rain forest of coastal Alaska, emerge into a subalpine climb over the Chilkoot, enter the alpine barrenness on the other side of the pass, and then descend into the boreal forest zone.
Hiking distances per day will be about 10 km. Our longest day will be the hike over the Pass, anywhere from 6-10 hours dependent on group ability and weather conditions. On most days we begin hiking at 9 am (on pass day we will leave around 6 am due to the physical demands of that day), take breaks, lazy lunches (weather permitting), and look to get into camp around 4-5 in the afternoon. To protect the environment, we follow “No Trace Camping” practices.
Level of Difficulty
The trip is open to people of all abilities; however, it requires physical endurance and psychological stamina. Participants should prepare by executing an exercise program coupled with some walking or running or cycling.
What to Expect
May/Mid-June: Winter-like conditions persist. Avalanche hazard exists. Few other hikers on the trail.
Mid-June/Early July: Significant amounts of snow, variable travel conditions. Avalanche hazard persists until mid-July.
Mid-July/Mid-August: Peak Season: Trail is generally snow-free although some snow patches persist. Travel conditions are highly variable and dependent on weather.
Mid-August/Late September: Trail is generally snow-free though some snow patches still persist. Weather is wetter; daylight hours are shorter, nights are colder (often below freezing). The route over Chilkoot Pass is not marked after patrol staff leaves the trail in early September.
Weather conditions in northern mountainous environments range widely between extremes. The only fact you can bet on with mountain weather is that it can change instantly. This means that although we may enjoy fine weather, we must also be prepared for changes. On any given day you may experience sunny, hot, dry weather that is interrupted by periods of rain or, on rare occasions – even snow. In general, the weather is moderate with average temperatures of 16oC (62F) in July and 14oC (56F) in August. When packing, please be prepared for heatwaves and cold spells.
Maximum group size is 10, two of which are guides. Guides are licensed by the US Park Service and Canada Parks and carry Wilderness First Aid credentials. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities. People come by themselves or with family/friends. The youngest can be 13 and the oldest in their 70s. We would need to be comfortable that, at either end of the age scale, the hiker is capable of taking on the demands of hiking the Chilkoot.
This is a camping trip. At night you will sleep in a top-of-the-line tent. Typically, tenting is double occupancy and partners are arranged by gender. You are welcome to bring your own tent but you should contact our office to ascertain the suitability of your tent to the environment. Bathroom facilities will range from outhouses to wilderness sanitation practices.
The food we bring is plentiful, nutritious, and primarily vegetarian (because this keeps better than meat). Food is divided and carried by participants. A food drop helps to reduce the overall weight that will be carried. You can expect meals to be varied, and delicious: burritos, rice, pasta, and stir-fry for dinner; bagels and sandwiches for lunch; oatmeal, and granola for breakfast. Beverages include herbal and regular tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cider. If you have special dietary restrictions or preferences, be sure to list them on your registration.
We will supply you with a list of outdoor clothing and articles you will need. We supply all the group equipment including kitchen, water filters, tents, and weather cover. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing, backpack, and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. We do rent packs, sleeping bags/pads for a nominal charge (cleaning).
- Food: Meals on Day 1 are your responsibility. There will be options at our lunch stop and dinner will be in Skagway, Alaska. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, along with snacks and beverages, will be supplied by us for Days 2 through 6. On Day 7 we will supply Breakfast & Lunch only.
- Arrival in Departure City:You should be here at least one day before Day 1.
DAY 1–Leave Whitehorse by van for Fraser, the Canadian border crossing with Alaska. Board the White Pass & Yukon RR for a scenic 3-hour rail trip to Skagway, Alaska. Skagway was the entry port for most of the gold rushers headed to the Klondike goldfields. After a short registration and orientation session, time will allow for some sightseeing and dinner in Skagway. We will be driven to Dyea (die-e) to camp for the evening. Dyea is the trailhead for the Chilkoot Trail.
DAY 2– We begin hiking the trail. The first section of trail is through temperate rain forest as the area is close to the sea. It is fairly flat and easy hiking. We will be following the Taiya River for much of the first few days. At Finnegan’s Point, the trail begins to climb above the river, eventually descending to our campsite at Canyon City. There is a warming cabin there for shelter if needed.
DAY 3– From Canyon City, we will again climb higher above the Taiya River. Our destination is Sheep Camp for the evening. There are a number of warming tents for shelter here, along with a US ranger station.
DAY 4– This is our longest hiking day and the most strenuous part of the Chilkoot Trail. The first part, known as Long Hill, is a steady climb out from the rain forest and into a zone of small trees and tundra. We will eventually reach a site called the Scales, so-called for the re-weighing of gold rusher’s gear by Chilkat nations porters before the climb over the Pass. A 45-degree grade and huge boulders mark the route over the Chilkoot Pass. At the summit is the Canadian border, with a Canada Parks warden’s cabin and a warming cabin for hikers. We have entered a treeless tundra environment. The trail is rolling and moderate all the way to our campsite at Happy Camp. There is a small warming cabin and platform pads for tents.
DAY 5– From Happy Camp, we climb to a ridge that follows Long Lake below. Eventually we to another lake, Deep Lake. We will skirt its shore and follow the trail’s descent, high above a deep canyon. The creek below cascades into Lake Lindeman, our camp for the evening. There are 2 warming cabins along its shore as well as a warden’s cabin.
DAY 6– The trail from Lindeman follows a tiring climb through a sparse forest. There are 2 pocket lakes along the route and some incredible vantage points to view the very scenic Lake Lindeman. The trail begins to ease as it descends to beautiful Bennett Lake, the terminus of the Chilkoot Trail, and our camp for the evening. The WP&YRR has a rail terminus here. It is from here that we will board the train to meet our van on Day 7.
DAY 7– We will have the morning to explore the area around Lake Bennett. Around 1:00 pm the WP & YR railway will return us to Fraser where our van is parked. Our return to Whitehorse will be punctuated by a stop at Carcross, an interesting and historical Yukon town.
Included in the Cost
- Travel to and from Whitehorse and the Trailhead
- White Pass & Yukon RR fare
- All Chilkoot permits and fees
- Camping fees
- Camping equipment & tents
- Guides do meal preparation
- All food while hiking, including snacks/beverages
- Major first aid supplies
Excluded in the Cost
- Travel to Whitehorse
- Airport or other transfers
- Accommodation in Whitehorse
- Restaurant meals
- Personal purchases