A tough and challenging hike, the Chilkoot Trail retraces the route followed by the stampeders of the Klondike Gold Rush as they struggled over the Chilkoot Pass in the depths of the winter of 1897 to 1898. They were headed to the gold fields around Dawson City, Yukon in search of the promise of fabulous wealth. Confronted with inhuman conditions and harsh terrain, many abandoned excess gear along the way, overwhelmed by the enormity of the task they faced, fighting the forces of gravity as they struggled up the 45 degree climb of the Golden Stairs to the summit.
Hikers can still see many of these now protected artifacts along the trail as they travel from the trailhead at Dyea, Alaska to the shores of Bennett Lake, British Columbia. In the process they cross the Canadian border at the top of the Chilkoot Pass where they are greeted by a welcome warming hut and the Canadian flag snapping in the perpetual wind. Although the trail is considered strenuous on the climb over the pass, some parts are rated easy to moderate as you travel through an area of spectacular natural beauty and diversity. Over a relatively short distance of 53 km (33 mi.) hikers pass from coastal rainforest on the Alaska side to high alpine tundra at the summit to boreal forest on the Canadian side.
The historical significance of the trail was recognized by both the United States and Canada in 1998 when it was officially designated part of the Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park. Few trails in the world offer the opportunity to walk the pathway of history with the actual physical remnants of that history at your feet.
Photo of warming hut by Sylvia Fowler
Photo of artifacts at Crater Lake by Bobbie-Lynne Brock