Avg. Time : 2 or 3 days
Start / Finish :
- Crow Pass trailhead – Lake Bennett trailhead
- See the Parks Canada website for details on getting to and from the trailheads.
Season : May to September.
Maps / Info :
- Alaskas most famous trail, the Chilkoot is one hike that it is definitely worth reading up on before setting out. See the following links from the Canadian National Parks website for a brief synopsis of the trail’s colourful history and a downloadable trail map.
- For a more detailed examination of the Chilkoot Trail’s history, I recommend Archie Satterfield’s Chilkoot Pass: The Most Famous Trail in the North. It contains some wonderful old black and white photos from the gold rush days.
- Permits for the trail can be picked up at the Chilkoot Trail Centre in Skagway. If you are planning to hike during the busiest season, July and August, it is a good idea to reserve your spot in advance through Parks Canada.
- Bring all supplies from Skagway.
Route / Conditions :
- The trail is well marked and easy to follow from start to finish.
- The weather can be unpredictable. Even in summer, be prepared for cold, wet and windy conditions.
- Throughout the hike you will pass by historical artifacts, all of which are officially protected by law. Personally speaking, the most fascinating of these were the abandoned canvas boats on top of Chilkoot Pass (see photo). This same spot offers the premier views of the entire walk.
- The hike up to the pass it the only section of the trail which could be termed difficult. That being said, if you are doing it tough try to imagine what it was like for the heavily laden and often ill-prepared Gold Rushers, some of whom went over this puppy in the middle of winter!
- Bring your own shelter. Note that camping is permitted only at designated campsites.
- Hiking the Chilkoot Trail is like walking back in time. There is some fantastic alpine scenery along the way, but the impressions that linger most are related to the trails history. Walking in the footsteps of the Gold Rushers, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the lengths people will go to in order to strike it rich. Then again, I wonder how many made the arduous journey north just for the pure adventure of it all?