For those who are planning their own hike on the Chilkoot Trail, or those just wanting to learn a little more, I’ve complied a list of resources which I found useful.
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For a complete guide to hiking the trail, check out my ebook.
Find information about permits, campsites, and what to expect on the Chilkoot Trail at the official national parks sites of both the U.S. and Canada:
Inga’s Adventures also has a very useful information page about hiking the trail.
And be sure to join the Chilkoot Trail and Yukon River Travel Facebook Group, where people who have hiked the trail can answer all of your questions.
For getting to/from the trailhead contact Anne:
- you can call her at +1 907-617-7551
- or you can find her Facebook page here
For transportation at the end of the hike, you can depart Bennett either by train or floatplane:
Services in Skagway:
Most hikers complete the trail going from Dyea, Alaska to Bennett, B.C. (though it is possible to do it in reverse). This means you’ll most likely be spending time in Skagway prior to your departure on the trail. The following is not an exhaustive list but includes places we either used ourselves or had recommended to us by others.
- The Swaying Spruce – this is where we stayed both before and after the hike. Jesse and Kendra were very welcoming and accommodating hosts. I highly recommend staying here.
- Sgt. Preston’s Lodge – located right in Skagway, it’s a popular option
- Chilkoot Trail Outpost– located just a half mile from the trailhead this is a great option for hikers
- The Historic Skagway Inn – also located right in Skagway, and has an interesting history
- The Red Onion Saloon – good pizza and a fun atmosphere
- The Skagway Brewing Co. – where we had our celebratory beers and burgers following our hike
- Skagway Fish Co. – came highly recommended, though unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to try it out
- Bites on Broadway – delicious build-your-own breakfast sandwiches and a full coffee menu, a great place to fuel up before heading out on the trail
- Starfire – if you’re in the mood for Thai food; or
- Bombay Curry – for Indian cuisine
We found Fairway Market to have a good selection when we were there; though options may be limited depending on the day, as the supply barges come only once/week. I wouldn’t recommend relying on the stores in Skagway to stock you for your hike, make sure to bring essential items with you.
For last minute gear needs, rental equipment, or bear spray:
- The Mountain Shop – we rented our campstove here and found them to be very helpful
- Duff’s Backcountry Outfitters – good selection of clothing and gear if you need to pick up any last minute items
History and Reading:
For a historical perspective of the trail before, during, and after the Gold Rush check out David Neufeld and Frank Norris’ Chilkoot Trail:Heritage Route to the Klondike; you can buy it on Amazon (Canada) (US).
For accounts of the trail from a hiker’s perspective:
Maps are available at the Trail Center in Skagway
Our tent at Sheep Camp, secured to platform with rope
General Tips, Tricks, and Information:
Before you go:
- some campgrounds can book up quickly. Unless you are flexible on your dates, be sure to contact Parks Canada to book your sites and obtain your permits early. They begin to take bookings early in January for that year’s hiking season
- you are required to present your passport when you pick up your permits at the trail office (as you will cross the US/Canada border during the hike). Be sure to have this with you (and any other documents you may need, depending on nationality). You will also need your passport if returning to Skagway by train following the hike, so don’t forget to pack it.
- if taking the train at the end of the hike – you will need to pick up your tickets at the train station in Skagway prior to heading out on the trail, again don’t forget to pack this before leaving.
- check/test all your gear before heading out. There are no services on the trail. And 10 miles deep into the backcountry is not a good time to realize your tent has a hole or your campstove is broken.
On the Trail:
- be sure to review and follow the Bear-Aware and Leave No Trace rules
- campfires are not permitted at any point on the Chilkoot Trail and camping is allowed only in designated campgrounds
- most campgrounds have wooden tent platforms, bring a length of rope (or several shorter lengths of rope) to tie your tent to the wooden rails/eye hooks (see photo above).
- water sources are plentiful on the trail and bottles/bladders can be refilled regularly. It is recommended to treat all water on the trail. We used the Pristine Water Treatment system, which I found easy and relatively quick. Other options are tablets, boiling, or to filter. If boiling, be sure to bring extra fuel. The Sawyer Mini Filter system came highly recommended, though unfortunately I wasn’t able to get my hands on one before our hike. Find it on Amazon (Canada) (US).
- weather conditions can change quickly on the Chilkoot Trail. Be prepared for anything. Snow can persist at higher elevations into late summer. In bad weather, hypothermia is a risk. Pack warm layers and rain gear.
- pack everything in dry bags. And I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Despite rain covers, all of the gear in our packs got wet the day we did the Pass due to driving wind and rain. Another trick I’ve heard of is lining your pack with a garbage bag to keep things dry, though I’m not sure how this would hold up over 3-5 days of unpacking/repacking your bag. I like the MEC Nano 3D Dry Bags.
- You cannot fly with campstove fuel or bear spray (even in your checked bag). You can find these in Skagway at either of the outfitters mentioned above; or check with your accommodation – sometimes hikers leave behind unused items to be passed on to someone else. **But double-check that they are, in fact, unused (in the case that you do need to use your bear spray, that is not the time to find out the canister is empty).
- packing all your food, toiletries, and anything else with a scent in one bag makes it easy to organize once you get to camp. All of these items should be stored in the bear lockers or hung from a bear pole.
- the trails around some of the campgrounds can get muddy and slick. If you plan to wear camp shoes at the end of the day, I recommend something that is secure on your foot and allows you to wear socks, like a sport sandal or lightweight shoe.
- pack extra socks. It is very likely that your feet will get wet at some point on the trail.
- take toilet paper. TP is provided in outhouses on the U.S. side, though is not always stocked. It’s up to you to provide your own TP on the Canadian side.
- try to keep your pack as light as possible, while ensuring you have all essential items. Our packs were around 35-45 pounds each, with all food and gear (2 people, 5 days). There were some items we didn’t use (sunscreen, bug spray, the majority of the first aid kit), though I wouldn’t recommend leaving any of this behind (you may need it, depending on weather). We could have saved weight by investing in high-tech sleeping bags, etc. but unless you’re a super minimalist backpacker, expect to carry at least 30 pounds.
The Chilkoot Trail is a spectacular and challenging hike. To make your experience as enjoyable as possible, do some research and come prepared.