Chilkoot Trail

Join Alaska Mountain Guides for a trip back in time, as we travel in the footsteps of the stampeders who traveled the Chilkoot Trail during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Trip Photos

  • Early season hikes on the Chilkoot often have snow fields near the pass Early season hikes on the Chilkoot often have snow fields near the pass
  • Views open up after crossing over the Chilkoot Pass Views open up after crossing over the Chilkoot Pass
  • Groups walk in the footsteps of the stampeders from the Alaska Gold Rush of the late 1800's Groups walk in the footsteps of the stampeders from the Alaska Gold Rush of the late 1800's
  • Your trip starts and ends in Skagway, Alaska Your trip starts and ends in Skagway, Alaska
  • Group at the Chilkoot trailhead in Dyea, along the Taiya River Group at the Chilkoot trailhead in Dyea, along the Taiya River
  • Warming hut near the Chilkoot Pass in the clouds Warming hut near the Chilkoot Pass in the clouds
  • A series of bridges cross creeks and streams before starting up the steeper sections A series of bridges cross creeks and streams before starting up the steeper sections
  • Well established and comfortable tent platforms during the 5-day trip Well established and comfortable tent platforms during the 5-day trip
  • All smiles as the group makes their way up the pass All smiles as the group makes their way up the pass
  • Blue skies after cross the pass and enjoying the more mellow terrain leading to Lake Bennett Blue skies after cross the pass and enjoying the more mellow terrain leading to Lake Bennett
     

Trip Notes

Location: Alaska/Yukon
Meeting Point: Skagway, AK
Destination: Skagway, AK
Duration: 5 days
Price: $1190 (+ tax, in USD)
Activity Type: Backpacking
Season: June, July, August, September
Guide to Guest Ratio: 1 to 8
Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5
Paperwork Required: Registration, Health Form, Risk Acknowledgment

Related Trips:

Trip Description

“The Klondike Gold Rush captured the imagination of the world. Rich and poor, young and old, women and men were attracted to the Klondike from all parts of the globe. No image better represents this historic event than the endless line of stampeders struggling over the Chilkoot Pass during the winter of 1897-98. Today the Chilkoot Trail National Site and Klondike Gold Rush National Park commemorate this extraordinary journey. The contrast between the scenic grandeur of the coastal mountains and the fragile remains of the stampeders’ goods and temporary structures make the Chilkoot a unique backcountry trail.” – A Hiker’s Guide to the Chilkoot Trail

This trip is perfect for individuals and families wishing to enjoy the splendor of the Yukon wilderness while traveling this historic route. In addition to the numerous historical sites, we will also have opportunity to view wildlife such as bear, wolf, moose, mink, wolverine, eagles, hawks and waterfowl. We’ll start our trip in historic Skagway, with a pre-trip meeting at your hotel the evening before the hiking begins. Our Sunday and Tuesday departures ensure trail conditions that are less crowded and choice selection of the best camp spots. This trip can be run as a 4 or 5-day program.

“Headlines screamed “Gold!” The dream of a better life catapulted thousands of people to Alaska and the Yukon Territory. Their journey shaped them, and changed the people they encountered and the north forever.”. – Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park website
Retrace the steps of the gold-rushers as they left the civilization of Skagway and headed to the wilds of Chilkoot Pass. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is an incredibly unique park – explore two countries along your trek, as the trail segues into Parks Canada’s wild domain. There’s even a section of the park all the way down in Seattle!

SKAGWAY: Skagway is a small community located at the top of the inside passage. Regular flights are available from Juneau daily, ferry service is also available to get you here.

GETTING TO SKAGWAY: Regular flight service runs to Juneau, AK. From there, take a short 45 minute flight or a 6 hour ferry along the Alaska Marine Highway to get to the small coastal community of Skagway.

GOLD RUSH NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK: The Klondike Gold Rush took place in 1897 when thousands of Americans came from near and far to take their chances at striking it rich! Several trail systems were used in the attempt to stake a claim on land that was said to be rich in gold. The Chilkoot Trail is the most famous of these trails. This unique backpacking trip through the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park allows for a firsthand experience of the original Klondike Gold Rush history.

OUR GUIDES: Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School Inc. instructors and guides are professionals. They have a wealth of experience from guiding throughout Alaska and the world and they genuinely enjoy sharing their knowledge. Their skill and positive attitudes help our guests to have the best possible experience during their trip. Your safety and enjoyment are their primary goals.

Trip Itinerary (in a printable PDF format)

Day 0: Meet your guide for a pre-trip orientation at 6pm. Lodging and meals on your own.

Day 1: In the morning we will register with the park service, then enjoy a 20 minute drive to Dyea to the start of the trail. Here we will grab our packs and head out on the well-maintained trail along the Taiya River. The first day will entail a 7.8-mile walk through the lush temperate rainforest full of huge cottonwoods, edible berries, and colorful wildflowers. That night we will make camp at Canyon City and enjoy a scrumptious dinner and a well-deserved rest.

Day 2: After breakfast we have the option of exploring the rarely visited ruins of Canyon City. The rest of the day is a leisurely 5 mile walk to Sheep Camp. This is a very pleasant hike with great views and time for lots of breaks.

Day 3: This is the big day. We will hike the “Golden Staircase” over the Chilkoot Pass into Canada, and on to Happy Camp. We will get up early and travel 7 miles and gain about 2000 feet in elevation to reach the summit. Here a warming hut is a welcome lunch spot before dropping down to our campsite. As we ascend, the big trees of the rainforest are left behind as we move into the alpine zone. This is a great day of fun walking and interesting scenery. We will see the remains of the scales used to weigh the stampeders supplies as well as pieces of the aerial tramway built to move freight. The last part of the day is a nice stroll along Crater Lake.

Day 4: Today we descend a bit while walking through the alpine tundra towards Bare Loon Lake. This 9-mile walk past alpine lakes is a good time to spot golden eagles, waterfowl, and the occasional bear. The blueberries in this area are outstanding during late summer trips.

Day 5: Today is a short hike to Lake Bennett and our rendezvous with the White Pass Yukon Route Railway. The classic train ride to Carcross and ground transportation back to Skagway offer a unique opportunity to view the White Pass and a relaxed way to reenter civilization.

FAQ Document (in a printable PDF format)

How many miles do we hike each day?
We typically hike about 6-8 miles per day on our 5-day itinerary.

What is the total elevation gain during the hike?
We will reach a maximum elevation of about 3,500 ft.

What will my pack weight be, on average?
You can expect your pack to weight to be around 30-45 lbs. This would be about 20 – 30 lbs of your personal gear, plus approximately 15 pounds of group gear (tent and food).

Are Passports required?
Yes, the Chilkoot Trail starts in Skagway, Alaska and ends at Lake Bennet in British Columbia, Canada. You will need your passport to travel over the Chilkoot Pass into Canada and to get back into the US.

Are Porters available?
Yes, we have porters available for hire. A porter will typically carry 15-20 lbs of your personal gear, OR your portion of the group gear (~15-20 lbs). With one porter per guest, you can expect a pack weight of about 20 – 25 lbs. If splitting a porter with another guest, each pack weight would be reduced by about 10 lbs each.

When is the best time to hike the Chilkoot Trail?
The season on the Chilkoot trail generally goes from mid-June through the end of September. The earlier dates tend to have more snow at the higher elevations. Once you get into September, there is typically more precipitation and colder temperatures up on the pass.

What is included in the trip cost?
Knowledgeable guide, permit fees, transportation to the trailhead, van & train transportation returning to Skagway on the last day, food during the trip, group equipment.

What is not included in the trip cost?
Travel to and from Skagway, food and lodging prior to and following your trip, trip insurance, personal clothing and equipment, tips for your guides.

How difficult is the Chilkoot Pass, or Golden Staircase? Is it a long day?
It can be a long day, as we will ascend more than 2500’ up and over the pass. Typically, we start early in the morning so that we have plenty of time and can go at a relaxed pace over the pass.

What does AMG do for water treatment on the trail?
AMG carries Steri-Pens for water treatment. As a backup, we can treat boiled water with iodine tablets.

Are there relics from the Klondike Gold Rush along the trail?
Yes, throughout the trail we’ll see historical relics from the gold rush era, including 100-year-old boats along the shores of Lake Bennet and cable hoists at the Golden Staircase. Our guides provide a wealth of historical information along the way.

How bad are the bugs?
Biting insects are rarely a cause for complaint along the trail. Occasionally, there may be hatches of mosquitoes during the beginning of the season, but wind and cooler temperatures near the pass tend to keep the bugs away. We recommend bringing bug repellent and perhaps a head net, if you are particularly sensitive.

When do I meet my guide?
We arrange for a pre-trip meeting the evening before the hike begins. You will meet your guide, where he or she will look over all of your clothing and equipment to make sure you have everything that you need.

What are the tent arrangements?
We are happy to offer single tents to all of our guests. If you opt for a single tent this will increase your pack weight. Most guests utilize a two-person tent. We also have three-person tents available for odd-numbered groups.

What is the food like during the trip?

Breakfast – breakfast is typically hot cereal, with additional dried fruit. We may have a larger breakfast such as pancakes or eggs on the shorter hiking days. Hot drinks such as tea, coffee, hot cocoa, and cider are always appreciated on cool mornings.

Lunch – depending on the day, we may enjoy a bagel lunch with smoked salmon and cream cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or we may stop for a hot grilled cheese sandwich and some soup at a warming hut. We always have a variety of travel snacks to keep our energy up on the trail.

Dinner – Pesto Spaghetti, Thai rice noodles, burritos, or a Thanksgiving-style dinner with mashed potatoes, cranberries and chicken are a few examples. We strive to have nutritious, tasty meals, keeping pack-weight and perishability in mind.

What are the campsites like on the Chilkoot Trail?
The exact itinerary and camps may vary depending on availability. Listed below is the standard format for our 5-day itinerary.

Canyon City
This is the second-largest campground on the American side of the trail, located next to a small tributary of the Taiya River. Canyon City includes a log cabin with a wood stove and several bunks (although sleeping is not permitted inside park shelters), several shelves for cooking, and a small porch for drying gear. Canyon City includes more than 30 campsites, two outhouses, food lockers, and bear poles.

Sheep Camp
This is the largest of the American campsites, located adjacent to the braided Taiya River. Sheep Camp consists of three canvas shelters, a small cache used by the trail crew, outhouses, and over 40 campsites. The only U.S. Ranger Station on the trail is located just a few hundred meters north of the camp. During the official season, the ranger gives a nightly presentation on the history of the pass, and current weather and trail conditions. From Sheep Camp we’ll typically leave as early as 4 AM for the summit push into Canada.

Happy Camp
Happy Camp is the only campground on the Chilkoot Trail in the alpine. A small warming cabin, an outhouse, and a modest number of campsites are all available at this campsite. Happy Camp owes its name to what the relief prospectors (and hikers) experienced from arriving at the first outpost after the pass. The camp is situated in a true alpine ecosystem and receives heavy use because of its location.

Bare Loon Lake
Bare Loon Lake is the second campground without semi-permanent shelter, though it now includes a pavilion-style cooking shelter. Located on a small ridge above Lake Lindeman in a pine forest and overlooking the Bare Loon Lake, the campground is one of the most beautiful on the trail. It includes an outhouse, a helicopter pad, and bear poles.

Trip Documents:

Price: $1190 (+ tax, in USD)
2018 Dates: Sundays, June 15 – September 30
2019 Dates: Sundays, June 15 – September 30

What is included in the trip price:
  • Camping gear – group camping equipment, tents, stoves, etc…
  • Expedition food – all food while out in the field
  • Transportation during trip – travel to/from airport or ferry, to the trailhead, and train ride back to Skagway
  • Professional guides – Our guides have extensive knowledge of the area and a passion for hiking in wild places.
Guests are responsible for the following:
  • Personal clothing & equipment – review the equipment list included under “Documents”
  • Food & lodging in town – we will happily recommend our favorite lodging sites in Skagway
  • Trip insurance – we highly recommend trip insurance for all of our programs
  • Airfare – review the “Travel Information” under “Documents” for more details
  • Reviewing trip policies – please reference our policies page for policies regarding payment, cancellations, refunds and guest responsibilities.
  • Gratuities
To Book your adventure, follow the steps below:
  1. Please call to confirm availability at 1-800-766-3396 or fill out an online form to request more information via this link:
  2. Place a $250 deposit to reserve your spot: this can be place over the phone by credit card, check in the mail, or through our payment gateway.
  3. Once you’ve reserved your spot, you’ll receive a welcome packet with all the necessary registration forms and trip information.
  4. We kindly ask that you submit all of the necessary trip registration information at least 45 days prior to your trip.

Feel free to call or email anytime if you have questions about your upcoming trip. Our team is excited to help you prepare for your adventure!

Guest Comments:

One of a kind adventure! It was a challenging day, but an incredible experience I'll remember forever. John was a great guide; personable and always safety conscious.
- Roger P.