Choosing Your Campgrounds
© Parks Canada / Christine Hedgecock
Plan time to relax and enjoy this historical setting as well as to deal with unforeseen difficulties and delays. Allow ample time before and after your hike to avoid unnecessary conflicts with other travel arrangements
Camping is allowed in designated campgrounds only. Individual campsites within the campgrounds are available on a first-come, first -serve basis. 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.
Tent sites at Happy Camp © Parks Canada
At the time of reservation you must specify which campgrounds you will stay at for each night of your trip. While this requires careful pre-trip planning, it eliminates over-crowding in campgrounds and ensures that everyone will have a place to camp. Choose your campgrounds with the least experienced member of your group in mind!!!
Hiking with a partner or small group will give you greater flexibility when planning your hike. Maximum group size is 12. In addition, only one large group (9 – 12 people) is permitted to cross Chilkoot Pass on any single day.
Groups larger than 12 are required to break into smaller groups and can not cross Chilkoot Pass on the same day or camp in the same campground on the same night. Allow ample time before and after your hike to avoid unnecessary conflicts with other travel arrangements.
Hiking Trip Logistics
Hiking South to North
At the Dyea Trailhead © Manuela Künzi
Most backpackers begin their trek in Dyea and hike north towards Bennett. This option retraces the journey of the stampeders en route to the Klondike goldfields and as most weather systems blow in from the coast, driving rain or heavy winds will tend to be at your back. The average trip length is between three and five nights on the Trail.
The American Side
On the trail between Canyon City and Pleasant Camp © Manuela Künzi
Most hikers spend two nights on the American side of the trail. Faster hikers will often spend only one night. It is desirable, especially in the early season when avalanche hazard is a concern, to stay in Sheep Camp the night before crossing Chilkoot Pass. An early departure from Sheep Camp (on the trail before 6:00 am) is essential to ensure safer travel through the avalanche zones early in the day when avalanche hazard is lower. Spending two nights on the American side is recommended in the early season to facilitate an early start.
Crossing the Pass
Climbing the "Golden Stairs" © Parks Canada / Christine Hedgecock
“Crossing the Pass” is the most demanding day. It often takes 12 hours to travel from Sheep Camp to Happy Camp, a distance of only 12.7 km (7.9 miles). There is a day use shelter at the top of Chilkoot Pass making it a logical place for a rest/lunch stop. In the early season hikers are advised to travel early and take a rest/lunch break at the Pass before proceeding through the avalanche areas to the north. Note: THERE IS NO CAMPING AT CHILKOOT PASS.
Many are surprised when the trip from the Pass to Happy Camp takes as long and proves just as challenging as the climb from Sheep Camp to the Pass. Snowfields between the Scales and Happy Camp persist throughout the summer months. Be prepared to camp on snow at Happy Camp until late June/early July.
The Canadian Side
Hiking the sand dunes into Bennett © Manuela Künzi
Most people spend either two or three nights on the Canadian side of the trail. Spending an extra night will give you more time to relax after the "push" over the pass. Happy Camp, Lindeman City and Bennett are generally the campgrounds of choice for those spending three nights on the Canadian side. Lindeman City and Bare Loon Lake are both within striking distance of Bennett by train time for those spending only two nights. Remember: Choose your campgrounds with the least experienced member of your group in mind!!
Getting off the Trail
There is no road access to Bennett. Your exit options are train, boat charter or for those returning to Whitehorse, floatplane. There is no phone or cell phone service at Bennett. All post-hike travel arrangements must be made prior to starting the trail. Contact carriers directly:
Log Cabin Access/Egress
The Cut Off Trail is closed between May 1 and November 30. During this time travel on it is prohibited and you may be charged with an offence under the Canada National Parks Act if you are found travelling on the Cut Off Trail.The trail is no longer maintained and a bridge has been removed. There is therefore a greater risk to you of personal injury. Reduced sightlines due to vegetation re-growth increases the risk of a surprise bear encounter.
Using the WP&YR railway right of way and tracks to get to or from the Chilkoot Trail is trespassing and illegal under the Railway Safety Act. Travelling on the railway right of way is dangerous there is a risk of being hit by a train or other railway equipment. If you do so it is entirely at your own discretion and you accept any and all risks absolutely and Parks Canada Agency is not liable to you whatsoever.
Hiking North to South
Hiking north to south you will be moving against the predominant flow of hikers and will encounter many more hikers along the Trail. Descending the steep incline from the Pass to the Scales, while easier on the respiratory system, places greater stress on knee and ankle joints and puts you at greater risk of losing your footing, falling and possibly injuring yourself. As most weather systems move in from the coast you will be travelling into the prevailing wind.
Chilkoot Trail Profile
(image is wider than 640 pixels)© Parks Canada
Finnegan's Point: kilometre 7.9 / mile 4.9
Canyon City: kilometre 12.5 / mile 7.8
Pleasant Camp: kilometre 16.9 / mile 10.5
Sheep Camp: kilometre 20.3 / mile 12.6
Happy Camp: kilometre 33 / mile 20.5
Deep Lake: kilometre 37 / mile 23
Lindeman City: kilometre 41.8 / mile 26
Bare Loon Lake: kilometre 46.7 / mile 29
Bennett: kilometre 53.1 / mile 33
For detailed campground information consult the Campground Guide.
Your Trip Itinerary
At the time of reservation you must specify which campgrounds you will stay at for each night of your trip. . If you are planning on taking the train, make sure your exit day corresponds with the train schedule: White Pass & Yukon Route or call: 1-800-343-7373.
Before calling to reserve please ensure that you can provide us with the following information:
# of adults (17+), youth (6-16) and children (5 & under) in your group
# of tent sites needed
dates & desired campgrounds
Credit card information