Into The Wild 2019
The expedition route is outlined below. You can zoom in and travel the route via Google maps. As we approach our departure day, we will update the route from Skagway to Bennett with further details and Points of Interest.
Into The Wild 2019
We will begin the expedition in Skagway, yomping up to the start of the Chilkroot Trail. We will follow the Chilkroot Trail's path ( along Dyer road) on the river up to the Dyer Ruins and Canyon City.
The trail itself is thought of as in 3 sections, which are the Coastal Rainforest, High Alpine and Boreal Forest section.
Coastal rainforest zone
The trail begins in Dyea, a ghost town and campground, 15 minutes from Skagway. From the trailhead, the route winds through coastal rainforest along to the Taiya River. The first campsite is Finnegan's Point. This stretch of the trail is in flat terrain with no substantial obstacles.
The trail becomes noticeably cooler after Finnegan's Point owing to cool air sinking down from snow and ice fields in the surrounding mountains. Numerous streams also cascade down the mountain sides. This stretch of the trail contains the least amount of visible artifacts. The next camp is Canyon City. Many hikers, especially those desiring a more modest pace or those who have had a late start, stop at Canyon City the first night. The shelter located at Canyon City houses many gold rush-era artifacts.
Close to the Canyon City campsite are the Canyon City ruins. Canyon City was a tent city during the gold rush and its ruins—building foundations, a large restaurant stove, a large boiler—are still visible. The ruins are accessible by crossing the Taiya River by suspension footbridge.
Between Finnegan's Point and Canyon City, 2004
After Canyon City ruins, the trail diverges away from the river for the first time as the river disappears into a small canyon (Canyon City's namesake) and climbs up valley wall, traversing sub-alpine forest. For many sections of the trail, old telegraph and tram wires are exposed adjacent to the trail. For the gold rush prospectors, this section of the trail was one of the most difficult. In winter, when the Taiya River was frozen, the gold rush stampeders could easily travel up the ice highway; however, in the summer this segment was described as "the worst piece of trail on the road, fairly muddy with many boulders and with some short, steep ascents and descents in and out of small gulches."
The next landmark is Pleasant Camp. There is an informational trail sign at the original site of Pleasant Camp, a quarter mile before the present Pleasant Camp campground. Pleasant Camp marks the reunion of the trail with Taiya River and serves as a lightly used, small campground. From Pleasant Camp the trail is fairly flat and weaves through forest and over small creeks.
The trail next comes to Sheep Camp, the last campground on the American side of the trail as well as the final resting stop before the trek up Chilkoot Pass. It is the largest of the campsites on the American side of the trail.
After leaving Sheep Camp and before the U.S. ranger station, the trail passes through a large avalanche chute. The slide has wiped out all previously existing forest and leaves a young brushy and alder-dominated landscape. A short distance after the ranger station is a small museum of gold rush-era artifacts in an old cabin. Soon after leaving the cabin the sub-alpine forest slowly yields to a treeless alpine landscape that allows a grand view of the rapidly narrowing Taiya River valley. As the trail climbs in altitude, its path becomes more improved, often demarcated by yellow markers planted in snowfields.
High alpine zone
Within sight of the pass, and at the base of the "Golden Stairs" (the long difficult incline that leads to the pass), are The Scales. The Scales were a weight station where freight would be reweighed before the final trek to the pass. Often, Native packers would demand higher packing rates. The Scales also hosted a small tent city, including six restaurants, two hotels, a saloon, and many freighting offices and warehouses. The imposing Golden Stairs also prompted many would-be prospectors to turn around, often leaving behind their required ton of equipment. Because of this, and the snow's preserving properties, artifacts are prevalent at this altitude, including many remnants of wooden structures.
After The Scales is the final push up to the Chilkoot Pass: the fabled Golden Stairs. The Golden Stairs acquired its name from the steps that prospectors painstakingly carved into the snow and ice of the pass and has retained the name ever since. At the pass proper, at the Canada–US border, is a warming cabin and part-time Parks Canada warden station. Occasionally, if a party is making poor time, the warden or U.S. ranger will offer the warming cabin as an overnight shelter so to not risk the group from being caught in the barren and exposed alpine landscape between the pass and Happy Camp. There are also many artifacts scattered about the Golden Stairs and ridge lines surrounding the pass, including a cache of intact (canvas, wood, etc.) prefabricated boats on the southeastern side of the pass.
Stone Crib is situated a half mile after the pass. Stone Crib served as the terminus of the Chilkoot Railroad and Transport Company's aerial tramway, a huge rocky counterbalance for the tram. This function is still apparent today with the wooden structure well preserved by the snow.
The trail wends its way by a series of alpine lakes: First Crater Lake, Morrow Lake, and finally Happy Camp.
Boreal forest zone
The trail continues to pass another couple of lakes—Long Lake and Deep Lake—before crossing tree line. Adjacent to Deep Lake, and amidst tree line, is another campground. The Canadian half of the Chilkoot Trail, in the rain shadow of the Coast Mountains, is much dryer, and pine forest, first appearing at Deep Lake, readily contrasts to the more lush temperate rain forest on the U.S. half before Chilkoot Pass.
After the trail passes Deep Lake, the outlet river runs parallel to the trail for a short distance before entering a small canyon. Many boat and boat-related artifacts are visible in this area. The trail continues at a gentle decline until the turquoise-colored Lake Lindeman comes into view and the trail concludes its descent to the Lake Lindeman campground, the headquarters of Canadian trail operations.
The trail climbs a steep bluff after Lindeman and offers an expansive view of the lake and surrounding forest. After Lake Lindeman, the trail passes Bare Loon Lake and the Bare Loon Lake campground.
The trail diverges after Bare Loon Lake. One branch continues to Lake Bennett and the tracks of the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad. The other branch, the Log Cabin cut-off, connects with the Klondike Highway, but was closed by Parks Canada in 2010.
Bennett consists of a campground, a White Pass and Yukon Route depot, several houses (all private property) belonging to White Pass employees or First Nations citizens, and the only gold rush-era building still standing along the trail today, the renovated St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Pilings from bygone piers dot the lakeshore and an assortment of cans and other metal artifacts are scattered throughout the woods.