Spanning 53 kilometers/33 miles, two countries, and centuries of history, the Chilkoot Trail offers a hike to remember.
Originally used as one of many trade routes by the Tlinget people, the Chilkoot’s current claim-to-historical-fame is the central role it played in the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s.
Gold was first discovered near Dawson City in 1896. Word spread, and by 1897 prospectors were rushing to the area to get in on the boom. For the route that included the Chilkoot Trail, the entire trip consisted of taking a ship from Seattle, Washington to Skagway or Dyea, Alaska; travelling overland from Dyea to either Lindeman or Bennett Lakes in British Columbia, Canada; and then building a raft or boat to continue the 800 km/500 miles or so to Dawson City, Yukon. All of this was done carrying the one ton of food and supplies that the Canadian Mounties required people to have, in an effort to prevent the often inexperienced and unprepared prospectors from starving to death.
Over the course of the Gold Rush (1896-1899), around 100,000 people would set out in hopes of striking gold. Of those, around 30,000 people made their way via the Chilkoot pass. When it was all said and done, only a fraction made it as far as Dawson and only a few hundred became rich.
Today, you can retrace the footsteps of the Stampeders by hiking the Chilkoot Trail from Dyea to Bennett Lake. It’s referred to as the world’s longest museum, as artifacts and relics from the Gold Rush days remain scattered along the trail. Everything from shoes to woodstoves to telegraph cables can be seen as you make your way through forests, along rivers, over the pass (also the U.S./Canada border), and across alpine tundra.
Mark and I hiked the Chilkoot Trail August 9-13, 2016. Fortunately for us, you’re no longer required to bring a ton of goods.
Below, you will find links to my day-by-day account of what it was like to hike the Chilkoot Trail. I hope you enjoy reading along!
I’ve also compiled a list of resources for those planning their own hiking adventure on the Chilkoot. Find that here: