Groups and guided trips
Most visitors prefer to hike in pairs or small groups. When choosing to hike in a large group, it is important to remember that your group has the potential to negatively impact upon the experience of other hikers. This is true whether you are an informal group of friends and family or an organized group such as an outdoor club, church group or Scout/Guide troop.
- Large group limits
- Reducing your impact
- Group safety
- Organized groups
- Guided trips
- Custodial groups
- Picking up your permits
Large group limits
Research suggests that large groups have a greater impact on park environments and place greater demands on park facilities. In order to manage the impacts of large groups, both the size and the number of large groups is regulated.
Maximum group size on the Chilkoot Trail is 12 people. Groups larger than 12 must break into smaller groups; these smaller groups can not cross Chilkoot Pass on the same day, and must camp and hike separately.
In addition, only one large group (defined as 9 – 12 people) is permitted to cross Chilkoot Pass on any single day.
Large groups should reserve early in order to get their desired dates.
Reducing your impact
Please show consideration for your fellow hikers and the park environment by respecting group size restrictions. Use of multiple bookings to circumvent group size restrictions is unacceptable and may result in loss of Permits.
Chilkoot bear safety protocols require that everyone cook and eat at the campground cooking shelters. As space in the cooking shelters is limited, large groups need to be well organized when preparing and eating meals and ensure that they do not dominate the cooking shelters to the exclusion of others. Breaking into smaller cooking groups and cycling through the shelters is an option to consider. As a large group you must take extra care to ensure that you leave the cooking shelters and campsites clean and that all of your attractants are securely stored at all times.
Plan your hike and choose your campgrounds keeping the abilities of your weakest group members in mind.
When hiking, members of large groups can easily become separated from each other. It is important to ensure that everyone in your group is accounted for at all times -- slower hikers should not be left behind to catch up later. It is a good idea to have a leader or experienced group member designated to bring up the rear to act as a “tail sweep”. Alternately, split your group into smaller hiking parties that hike together in tight formation.
Commercial operators require business licenses to operate on the Chilkoot Trail. Organized institutional or non-profit groups may also require business licenses. Please check with Parks Canada prior to making your reservation to ensure that your group does not require a business license.
To hike the trail with a licensed guide please ensure that the operator has the appropriate business licenses. For a current list of commercial guiding services licensed to operate on the Chilkoot Trail please check our Outfitter list.
A "custodial group" is one affiliated with an institution, where at least one person is below the age of majority and that minor is not accompanied by his/her parent or legal guardian. This could include, but is not limited to, school groups, Scout/Guide groups, church groups, cadet groups and community youth groups. When you reserve to hike the Chilkoot Trail, please declare your party as a custodial group. Parks Canada has developed specific Guidelines for Custodial Groups hiking the Chilkoot Trail.
Picking up your permits
You must pick up your reserved Permits and register for Customs at the Trail Center in Skagway (located at 520 Broadway). Every member of your group must be present and have proper documentation for crossing the border. Licensed guides must also present their Guide Card.
Trail orientations are mandatory and are scheduled at 8 am, 10 am, noon, 2 pm and 4 pm (Alaska Time) every day.
Please allow approximately 30 minutes for an orientation. All hikers must attend.
An optional 13 minute bear safety video will be shown before and after orientations and throughout the day.
Ensure that your arrival in Skagway will allow adequate time to pick up your permits and attend an orientation, especially if you are planning to camp in Dyea the night before you start your hike.