Fit and experienced visitors may challenge themselves by doing a day trip to Chilkoot Pass. The roundtrip distance from Dyea to Chilkoot Pass and back is 53.2 km / 33 miles. For those who wish to do the entire trail in a day, the distance from Dyea to Bennett is 53.1 km / 33 miles.
Due to the distances involved and the remoteness of the route, doing a day trip to Chilkoot Pass, or attempting to do the trail in a day is not recommended for people who are not extremely fit and already familiar with the trail.
Border Crossing requirements are the same for Chilkoot Trail day runners and through hikers as for Chilkoot Trail backpackers. You must have proper identification/documentation for crossing the border and comply with all border crossing procedures.
Day users remaining on the US portion of the trail (Dyea to Chilkoot Pass return) do not require Permits. Day Permits are required for day hiking or running on the Canadian portion of the trail from June 1 to September 13. Group size is limited to a maximum of 12.
Fatigue, injury and travel conditions as well as trail closures and travel restrictions due to natural disasters and/or bear activity can all result in travel delays. If, for any reason, day users must overnight on the trail, Canadian Camping Permit fees apply. You will be required to pay the difference upon completion of your trip. If you overnight on the trail you must camp at a designated campground and observe the same camping practices and food handling procedures as overnight backpackers.
You should pick up and pay for your Day Permits the day before your trip from Parks Canada in Whitehorse (Suite 205 – 300 Main St.), Skookum Jim House in Carcross (Carcross Commons) or from the Trail Centre in Skagway (520 Broadway). Please Note: the Trail Centre will not issue Day Permits for a same day start after 12:00 noon ADT.
Exiting the trail
For those day running or through hiking from Dyea to Bennett, Parks Canada recommends camping in Bennett campground and exiting by train or floatplane the following day . Consider having someone come in to camp with you at Bennett and/or accompany you for the last leg of your trip (they would require a Canadian Camping Permit).
It's a long day
People attempting to do the Chilkoot Trail in a day need to get a very early start. In August sunrise is later and sun set is earlier, reducing the amount of usable daylight on forested portions of the trail.
Day hikers and runners need to be self sufficient and adequately equipped to deal with the conditions and hazards associated with the Chilkoot Trail. Moving quickly puts you at higher risk of injury. When pushing hard and then suddenly stopping it is easy to get chilled, which can turn an otherwise minor mishap into a potentially life threatening situation if not properly equipped. Fatigue can also put you at higher risk of injury.
Leave your trip plan with a friend or family member and ensure that they know whom to contact if you do not complete your trip within the expected time.
Injuries and evacuations
The Chilkoot Trail passes through a remote area with difficult access and help can be many hours away. Like overnight backpackers, day hikers and runners may be expected to pay for medical evacuation services. Aircraft assisted medi-vacs can cost in excess of $2000. Make sure you have adequate health insurance coverage.
Be aware that bears are more active in the early morning and in the evening. Day running and through hiking requires travelling through the areas most commonly frequented by bears at these times. Moving quickly puts you at higher risk of a sudden encounter. To increase your margin of safety: travel in groups, make noise, carry bear spray and be thoroughly familiar with the principles and practices of safe travel in bear country.
- Read the "You Are in Bear Country" brochure
- See the “Staying Safe in Bear Country” video in Skagway before starting your hike
- Parks Canada recommends carrying bear spray
The Chilkoot Trail traverses rocky and sometimes very steep snow covered terrain. The trail can be rough with deep mud, flooding, unstable boulders, slick rocks and roots making footing difficult. The portion of the hike from the Scales over Chilkoot Pass is a route not a trail. While the route is marked, extreme weather conditions can complicate route finding. Snowfields between Chilkoot Pass and Happy Camp can persist through the summer. Generally, the snow pack is more stable and travelling will be better in the morning.
An avalanche hazard exists between Sheep Camp and Happy Camp until mid-July. Early season travellers, including day runners and through hikers, should avoid crossing avalanche areas in the afternoon and stopping in avalanche paths.
Chilkoot Pass avalanche terrain
Mountain weather is highly unpredictable and can change quickly. Regardless of season, you can expect wet, cold, windy and/or white-out conditions; severe rain or snow storms are possible even in the middle of summer. Weather can dramatically affect the ease and speed of travel and contribute to risk of hypothermia, dehydration, heat stroke, avalanche hazard etc.
Weather conditions along the trail can be very different than in Skagway, Whitehorse or Carcross; and can vary greatly at different locations along the trail. There is no weather forecast specifically for the Chilkoot Trail.
You are more likely to safely complete your trip if you are properly outfitted. It is strongly recommended that you be adequately equipped to survive a night on the trail and/or deal with inclement weather and/or injury. We suggest the following:
- identification (for crossing the border)
- wind and rain gear
- sun protection
- extra insulating layers
- wool hat
- emergency shelter
- matches & candle
- water bottle & purification method
- extra food
- first aid kit
- pocket knife or multi-tool
- headlamp (August)
- bear spray