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Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada

Fall Hiking


© Parks Canada

Outside of the summer hiking season, there are no American Park Rangers or Canadian Park Wardens doing regular patrols on the trail and the route is unmarked. Up-to-date information on trail conditions is no longer available. Parties wishing to attempt this trek must contact the U.S. National Park Service in Skagway (907-983-2921) or Parks Canada in Whitehorse (1-800-661-0486). Fall hikers need to be self sufficient and accept a high level of responsibility for their own safety.


Self Reliance

Should you decide to plan a trip into the park during the off-season, you must accept a high level of responsibility for your own safety. Remember, medical or rescue assistance may be several days away. If you are not experienced in winter travel, or do not carry essential safety equipment and camping gear, or travel alone, you are limiting your chances of survival if you have an accident.

  • Never travel alone.
  • Let someone know your plans. Leave an itinerary, route map and the names of your party members with a friend or family member and ensure that they have the emergency contact numbers.
  • Recognize and know how to treat hypothermia, frostbite, etc.
  • Carry survival gear, i.e., extra food, clothing, matches, etc.

Emergencies

Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site is a remote wilderness park. Travellers must be entirely self-sufficient and able to handle any emergency situations on their own. In the event of an emergency you should be prepared for lengthy delays in search and rescue response times due to weather conditions and/or the availability of both aircraft and rescue personnel.

There is no cell phone coverage along the Chilkoot Trail. Satellite phone coverage can be aversely affected by vegetation and topography in some locations. The closest telephone is at Dyea or Canada Customs at Fraser on the South Klondike Highway (6.5 km/4 miles south of Log Cabin parking lot).

As the Chilkoot Trail crosses an international border there is no single emergency contact number that is good for the whole trail. It is important to know which number to call in the event of an emergency. South of Chilkoot Pass you are in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, contact the U.S. National Park Service (NPS). North of Chilkoot Pass you are in Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada, contact Parks Canada.

Emergency Contact Numbers

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Alaska
NPS Emergency Dispatch
1-907-683-9555

Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site, British Columbia
Parks Canada Emergency Dispatch
1-877-852-3100
1-780-852-3100 (if calling from a satellite phone)

RCMP Carcross
1-867-821-5555

Route Finding

The trail and route over Chilkoot Pass is not marked and not readily identified during the off-season. Route finding skills are necessary. Carry a map and compass or GPS in case of whiteout conditions and especially if unfamiliar with the area.

Weather

Mountain weather is highly unpredictable. It can change quickly and/or vary greatly from one location to another. Regardless of the season, hikers can expect wet, cold, windy and/or whiteout conditions; severe rain or snow storms are possible even in the middle of summer. Fall weather is wetter; daylight hours are shorter and nights are colder (often below freezing).

Most weather systems blow in from the coast. As a result the US side of the trail tends to be rainy and prone to flooding. The section of the trail between Sheep Camp and Deep Lake is above tree line and frequently experiences severe weather conditions - driving rain, sleet, hail or snow, low temperatures, high winds and fog - as weather systems move through the area.

Avalanche Hazard

Avalanches are a natural phenomenon, which may occur during any season along the trail. Extreme avalanche conditions often exist between Sheep Camp and Deep Lake. Campgrounds may be unsafe. Extreme avalanche conditions can also develop elsewhere in the park given the right set of conditions, i.e., slope, terrain, weather and snow-pack composition. Fall hikers are responsible for their own evaluation of snow stability, avalanche hazards, and decisions concerning campsite and route selection.

Bears

The Chilkoot Trail is located in an area home to both black and grizzly bears. In the fall, salmon are running, berries are ripe and there is frequent bear activity along the trail. Do not leave packs unattended.

Designated Camping

Camping is allowed in designated campgrounds only. Camp only in designated campsites. Food storage lockers, or “bear boxes”, are provided at each campground except Pleasant Camp where there is a bear pole (rope required). Immediately upon arrival in camp: stow all food and other attractants. Ensure the door is securely latched. Cook and eat in shelters or at picnic tables. Do not cook or eat at tent platforms.

Open fires are prohibited. There are wood stoves available in some shelters below tree line, but wood supplies may be scarce and/or wet. Carry a backpacking stove and plenty of fuel. Backpacking stoves, or woodstoves in the Lindeman shelters are your only source of heat on the Canadian side of the trail.

Surface water is the only source of drinking water on the Chilkoot Trail. There are places to get water at all campgrounds. Purify all drinking water.

Pack in - Pack out

You must pack out everything that you pack into the park. Keep your meals simple and light -- this will cut down on the weight you carry in and the garbage that you will have to carry out. Nothing should be discarded in the park, including food scraps, wet garbage, grease and cigarette butts.

Waste Water Disposal

Never wash clothes, dishes, or yourself directly in a water source. Waste water is disposed of differently on the U.S. and Canadian sides of the trail:

  • U.S. side: Toss waste water into the fastest flowing part of the river.
  • Canadian side: Use wastewater disposal pits, located in all campgrounds and at Chilkoot Pass. Be sure to clean food waste off the screen and pack it out with your garbage.

Human Waste

Outhouses are located in every campground and at Chilkoot Pass. Toilet paper is not supplied on the Canadian side of the trail, and supplies on the U.S. side are sometimes limited. It is best to bring your own.

Park Regulations

  • Do not remove or disturb any natural or cultural resources.
  • Do not disturb, feed or entice wildlife.
  • Do not pollute.
  • Cook and eat only in designated areas.
  • Camp only in designated campsites.
  • No campfires.
  • Pets must be on a leash at all times.
  • Fishing is prohibited on the Canadian portion of the trail.
  • Metal detectors, firearms and mountain bikes are prohibited on the Canadian portion of the trail.