Canada is well-known for its amazing wilderness worldwide and more so, its northern territories feature some of the most wild and remote areas in the whole country. Neighbouring with Alaska, the Yukon region definitely displays many of the most famous wild animals Canada is known for – bears, mooses, mountain sheep, elks, caribous… Tourism is only growing at a slow pace here so many parts of the region are still intact and not explored. That`s why hiking in the Yukon is an experience on its own – very few other hikers on the tracks and lots of wildlife to encounter.
Here below are our top 5 hikes in Carcross area and Kluane National Park, both visited during our volunteering experience with the First Nation community in Carcross/Tagish.
TIP - Bring bear spray with you during your hikes as approximately 10,000 black bears and roughly 7,000 grizzlies roam across Yukon and it is common to encounter one of these beautiful creatures in this wild land, especially in the more remote areas. Learn more about bears in the Yukon here.
Nares Mountain Hike - views from the summit (Carcross area)
NARES MOUNTAIN HIKE (Carcross area)
LEVEL: Moderate / Intermediate
DISTANCE: 8 km return
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,000 mt
DURATION: 4.5 hrs
A moderate to intermediate hike offering stunning views of the Carcross/Tagish region. This is a loop which reaches the mountain summit after a steep climb. The first part of the hike is in the forest and once you emerge from the tree line into the alpine area, the views are breathtaking all the way up to the summit! You will be able to see Carcross village from above, the amazing light-blue colour of Bennet and Tagish lakes, and the surrounding mountains (the sacred Montana Mountain is just in front of you!). We recommend to hike up along the left side of the mountain as the right side is quite rocky and steep so it`s better to descend it. Basically you hike the loop clockwise. For more information check here.
Walking through the forest on Montana Hero Trail (Carcross area)
MONTANA MOUNTAIN TRAIL (Carcross area)
DISTANCE: 10 km from Carcross along Access Road to signpost + 14 km from Mountain Hero Trail signpost to plateau
ELEVATION GAIN: 700 mt from Carcross along Access Road to signpost + 825 mt from Mountain Hero Trail signpost to plateau
DURATION: 2 hrs from Carcross along Access Road to signpost + 4-5 hrs from Mountain Hero Trail signpost to plateau
Fabulous views of the valleys below and the peaks surrounding the plateau, old mining tracks and possible wildlife encounters await you on this track. You can start the trail from Carcross village and park at the bottom of Montana Mountain - from here you can walk the first 10 km to the signpost for Mountain Hero Trail. However this will be an extremely long day as you have to walk back the same way to your car. We recommend you drive the unpaved access road and park close to the Mountain Hero Trail signpost (if you drive make sure you have a four-wheel drive with high clearance). From here take the Mountain Hero trail to your left. Be careful on this part of the hike as it’s also used by mountain bikers – biking it could be as good as hiking it although the part of the hike just before Montana Mountain Plateau can be quite hard to bike as it’s made of big boulders and loose rocks. The views from the plateau are just amazing - light blue lakes, colourful valleys, wild flowers and rocky mountain peaks!
Views from Mountain Hero Trail (Carcross area)
Once you reach the plateau, you have different options - you can continue along Mountain Hero Trail (this will make it a very loooong day) and finish up at the either side of the mountain along the road which leads to Skagway. In this case you will need to organise your transport back to the start point – so it’s better hiking this trail with friends and leave one car at the end of the trail and the other at the start point. You can just wander in the plateau and listen to the ground squirrels' calls, explore the abandoned mining sites and simply take in the fantastic panorama.
This trail is part of the many trails on Montana Mountain which has been our home for one week during our monitoring experience in the Yukon.
Reaching the seat of King's Throne - Kluane National Park
KING'S THRONE HIKE (Kluane National Park and Reserve)
LEVEL: Intermediate to Advanced
DISTANCE: 10 km return
ELEVATION GAIN: 548 mt
DURATION: 4 hrs
Visible from the start of the hike on a clear day, the King’s Throne is a very appropriate name for this intermediate hike – this track takes you to a beautiful rocky cirque situated just below King’s Mountain Summit, which resemble a regal throne indeed. It`s a challenging scramble up scree and rocks once you`re out of the tree line but it`s well worth the effort for the panoramic view of Kathleen Lake and the forests below. Once you reach the throne you can add 2 hours approximately to your day to complete the summit – we have not done it because of the strong wind gusts which can blow you away when you hike along the ridge above the rocky throne. More here.
Small lake along Auriol Trail - Kluane National Park
AURIOL TRAIL (Kluane National Park and Reserve)
DISTANCE: 15 km return
ELEVATION GAIN: 400 mt
DURATION: 4-5 hrs
A half or full day hike or an overnight camping experience, this loop is an easy and relaxing walk, letting you recharge the batteries with its lush forests and beautiful river creeks. Take your time to walk this trail – although you won’t reach any summit, there will be nice viewpoints along the way from where you can see as far as Haines Junction to the east and the whole Auriol range to the west. Bring bear spray with you as we saw quite few bear droppings along the track which follows different water creeks and don’t forget mosquito repellent. If you have time, explore off trail once you reach the highest point, there will be no tracks to follow but you can use the mountain peaks to find your way. Apparently there is a beautiful glacial lake not far from the trail which we had no time to visit unfortunately. More here.
Breath-taking views from Sheep Mountain Summit - Kluane National Park
THACHÄL DHÄL / SHEEP MOUNTAIN TRAIL (Kluane National Park and Reserve)
LEVEL: Intermediate to Advanced
DISTANCE: 11 km
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,160 mt
DURATION: 5-6 hrs
Nothing will prepare you for the gorgeous views which you will so hardly conquer hiking the whole way up to Sheep Mountain summit. Breathtaking landscapes made of colorful mountain ranges (including the Red Castle Ridge), blue ice glaciers, the Slim River West Trail with glimpses of Observation Mountain, the Alaskan highway and the amazing Kluane Lake. This trail is a great substitute to the 3 day return hike to Observation Mountain summit if you are not prepared to camp in the wilderness and to river crossing. During the walk in the distance you can also see the peaceful mountain sheep grazing the green grassy patches on the southern side of the mountain. Parks Canada strongly advises against continuing on this side to descend from the summit as it is more dangerous and it disturbs the delicate habitat of the Dhaal sheep. More here.
Red Castle Ridge from Sheep Mountain Summit - Kluane National Park