If you’re thirsty for adventure, Alaska has no shortage of activities for you. One of its prime destinations is the historic Chilkoot trail that stretches for 53 kilometers through the spectacular Coast Mountains.
It was once the main route from the Skagway, Alaska on the coast to the Yukon gold fields in Dawson City. Although, it was abandoned with the establishment of the White Pass Railway. This is one of the most unique and historic ways to experience camping in Alaska
Today, adventurers from around the world flock to Alaska each year just to experience hiking and camping on the legendary Chilkoot trail. If you’re one of those planning to experience the same, here are some tips that you should know about:
There are limitations for crowds in the trail. To prevent overuse and keep the trail’s character intact, the U.S. National Park Service and Parks Canada manages the number of people who can traverse the trail at one time. By way of a permit system, only a maximum of 50 backpackers are allows to begin the trail each day.
Plan your trip around the official hiking season. The best time to hike the Chilkoot is between May and early September when trail crew and rangers are on site and the snow at the top of the pass has melted to a manageable level. Keep in mind that late May could bring fresh snow and early September is usually rainy and cold. Ideally, June through August are your best months to tackle the trail.
Be prepared to camp for three to five nights on the trail. Most backpackers follow the route from Dyea, Alaska, near Skagway, to Bennet in British Columbia. You’ll find several designated camping sites along the trail where you can camp safely. It is recommended to stay in Sheep Camp the night before traversing the Chilkoot Pass, as it is the closest camp to the bottom of the Chilkoot Pass. This gives hikers the most time to ascend the steep pass and get to Happy Camp, aptly named as you will no doubt be happy to reach it after a long day of challenging hiking.
Reserve and plan your campsites throughout the trip. There are strict rules for camping on the Chilkoot trail and you can only camp in designated campgrounds. You will also be asked to specify which campgrounds you will be staying for each night of your trip upon making your reservations for a permit. Keep in mind that open fires are not allowed on these campsites to avoid the risk of wildfires.
It is important to secure your permits and pay the corresponding fees that help with maintaining the trail. Since the trail management is strict about limiting the number of people on the Chilkoot Trail at one time, you need to secure your permit ahead if you want to hike or camp on the trail. 42 reservations are taken for each day, which allows for walk-ins.
The Chilkoot Trail is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing trails you’ll ever explore in your life. So don’t miss the opportunity to cross this trail. You will feel like you’re taking a walk through history.