Historic Klondike Route

Travel in the footsteps of gold rushers from over 100 years ago. Hike the historic Chilkoot Trail, then trade hiking boots for paddles and begin the 400 miles of canoeing that will bring us to the heart of the Klondike gold country.

Trip Photos

  • Paddling through five finger rapids on the Yukon River Paddling through five finger rapids on the Yukon River
  • Crossing over Chilkoot Pass Crossing over Chilkoot Pass
  • Terrain and scenery opens up as we cross into Canada Terrain and scenery opens up as we cross into Canada
  •  Paddling on the Yukon to Dawson City Paddling on the Yukon to Dawson City
  • Heading up and over the Chilkoot Summit Heading up and over the Chilkoot Summit
  • Camping along the banks of the Yukon River Camping along the banks of the Yukon River
  • Day 1 on the Chilkoot Trail Day 1 on the Chilkoot Trail
     

Trip Notes

Location: Alaska/Yukon
Meeting Point: Skagway, AK
Destination: Chilkoot Trail & Yukon River
Duration: 18 days
Price: $4350 (+ tax, in USD)
Activity Type: Multi-Sport
Season: June, July, August, September
Guide to Guest Ratio: 1 to 6
Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5
Paperwork Required: Registration, Health Form, Risk Acknowledgment

Related Trips:

Trip Description

Join us for 18 days of exploration in the Alaska and the Yukon - just like goldrushers of past centuries! We’ll start our trip in historic Skagway, Alaska with a 5-day hike over the Chilkoot Trail, trekking in the footsteps of gold rushers from 100 years ago.

Once over the trail, we’ll trade hiking boots for paddles and begin the 400 miles of canoeing that will bring us to Dawson City Yukon, and the heart of the Klondike gold country. Along the way we’ll pass derelict steam ships, native villages, gold dredges, current day fish camps, trappers cabins, Fort Selkirk, and other relics from the Gold Rush.

Visit Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon, we’ll run the famous Five Finger Rapids, and pass through Lake Labarge, the setting of Robert Service's famous poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. We’ll also pass by Henderson Creek where Jack London spent much of his time in the Klondike.

Floating down the swift Yukon River will also allow us opportunity to fish for Lake Trout, Arctic Grayling, and Northern Pike. 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.

This trip is perfect for individuals and families wishing to enjoy the splendor of the Yukon Wilderness while traveling this historic route.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC FEATURE: In 2001, Alaska Mountain Guides took National Geographic on the Klondike Route and was featured as the cover story.

THE CHILKOOT TRAIL: The Chilkoot Trail is 33 miles of great scenery and interesting history. We will spend 4 days on the trail.

THE YUKON RIVER: Flowing over 2000 miles from Source to sea, the Yukon is one of the longest rivers in the world and rich in native and cultural history.

SKAGWAY: Skagway, Alaska is the starting/finishing place for this trip. Skagway is a small community located at the top of the Inside Passage. The natural beauty, wilderness access and historical past are responsible for Skagway's reputation as a center for wilderness adventure in Alaska.

WHITEHORSE: Whitehorse (population 20,000) is the capital of the Yukon and a fun and unique city. We will spend one night here before starting the Yukon River.

HISTORIC KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH: “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 and Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park commemorate this extraordinary journey. The contract 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

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: Pre trip meeting at 6:00 pm at your hotel for gear check and introductions with your guide. Meals and lodging in Skagway are on your own.

Day 1:In the morning we will register with the park service and 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 about a 5-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: Another short day leads us to Sheep Camp, poised to head up and over the pass the next day.

Day 3:
This is the big day. We will hike the “Golden Stairs” over the Chilkoot Pass 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 hot spring is a welcome lunch spot before dropping down to our campsite. As we ascend, the big trees of the rainforest are left behind and 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 even 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 back to Fraser takes about an hour, where you will be met by a company vehicle and transported to Whitehorse, Yukon, where you will spend the night. Lodging in Whitehorse is included, and a great way to be reintroduced to civilization.

Day 6: Begin canoe trip on Yukon. Meet up with your guides in the morning and gather gear to begin the canoeing portion of our trip.  Typically, we head out on the water in the early afternoon.

Days 6-17: Canoeing and exploring the Yukon River, paddling and hiking before camping under the stars.

Day 17: We will end our canoe trip and re-enter civilization in historic Dawson City, the boomtown where the goldrush truly began. Spend the night in Dawson and relax. Lodging in Dawson not included.

Day 18: Traveling from Dawson to Whitehorse and back to Skagway, where our trip will come full circle. Make arrangements to fly or ferry out of Skagway the next day.

How many miles do we travel each day?
We typically hike about 5-7 miles per day on our 5-day itinerary.  For the canoe portion, the distance largely depends on the current.

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 Bennett in British Columbia, Canada. From there, we will travel to Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon Territory. 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, canoes, and transportation from Dawson to Skagway or Whitehorse.

What is not included in the trip cost?
Travel to and from Skagway, food prior to and following your trip, meals and lodging in Skagway, Whitehorse and Dawson (AMG will make reservations for hotels in Whitehorse on day five and day 14 in Dawson; participants will be responsible for these costs, approximately $100 for double room), 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?
On the trail and on the river, this is what you can expect for our backcountry cuisine:

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 4-day itinerary.

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.

Price: $4350 (+ tax, in USD)
Start Dates: Please call for availability

What is included in the trip price:
  • Camping and canoeing gear - group camping equipment, tents, canoes, paddles, 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 to Fraser, transportation to Whitehorse and Dawson, then back to Skagway.
  • Professional guides - Our guides have extensive knowledge of the area and a passion for hiking and paddling 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. We will make arrangements in Whitehorse and Dawson, which you will be responsible for.
  • 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.