Kluane Plateau route
Distance: 14 km (8.7 mi) return trip
Time: 7-11 hours
Elevation gain: 1,180 m (3,870’)
Maximum elevation: 1,960 m (6,429’)
Trailhead: 8 km (5 mi) south of Thechàl Dhâl Visitor Centre (63 km (39 mi) north of Haines Junction) on the Alaska Highway, park at the old Kluane Lake Lodge.
Topo map: Jarvis River 115 B/16.
This route provides stunning views from the top of Kluane Plateau onto the Slim’s River, Kluane Lake, the Ruby Ranges, and Thechàl Dhâl (Sheep Mountain).
The route described here is not within the boundaries of Kluane National Park and Reserve.
A route is not a trail
Routes are not marked with signs or maintained in any manner. The route described here is only a suggestion that may help guide you on your trip. Self-reliance and wilderness travel experience are essential, including excellent route finding skills, map and compass skills. It is the responsibility of individual hikers who choose to follow such routes to adequately prepare and be prepared to rely on themselves.
Park in the pull-off in front of the old Kluane Lake Lodge. Cross the Alaska Highway and start walking north towards the Thechàl Dhâl Visitor Centre; you will come to a creek bed about 300 M north of the Lodge. Twenty meters past this creek bed is the start of a game trail, locally known as Williams Horse Trail (Mike’s trail). The game trail veers into the bushes perpendicular to the Alaska Highway. Nearly 20 meters into the bush the game trail crosses the old clear-cut from a former pipeline (identifiable as a strip of willows that runs parallel to the highway, with no large spruce). Do not follow the trails along the old pipeline clear-cut, but continue walking in a direction perpendicular to the highway. Within 40 to 50 meters the game trail will become more obvious. Along this section of the route, the game trail follows an old bulldozed trail (evident from a lack of large spruce trees within a few meters on either side of the game trail). There is an abundance of soapberries in this area, so make lots of noise to avoid bear encounters.
The game trail comes out onto a creek bed, follows the creek for roughly 100 meters, and then veers left back into the trees. Follow any visible rock cairns and flagging tape through this section. From here the route follows the game trail as it gains elevation for 2-3 hours. Nearing the plateau, the game trail reveals itself as a possible bear trail (bushes are cleared to just above waist height, and you must separate the willows at shoulder height to move through). This section of the trail is a bit of a bushwhack. The trail eventually opens up into sparse willow leading into the alpine. Travel as far as you like, noting where you have left the willows so you can find the right game trail upon your return (it may be a good idea to carry flagging tape). Taking note of additional recognizable landmarks along the way may aid you in route finding upon your descent.
The knolls located on the south side of Kluane Plateau are a beautiful final destination, giving stunning views from all directions. If you choose to continue further west, on a route that takes you inside the Park boundary overnight, be aware that hikers are required to register with the Park for any night spent within the Park.
What you need to know
Bear sightings are common in this area. Review recommendations for travel within the You Are in Bear Country brochure. Please report all bear sightings to the staff at the Kluane National Park and Reserve Visitor Centre in Haines Junction or at the Thechàl Dhâl Visitor Centre.
Using topographic a map at a 1:50,000 scale is highly recommended: Jarvis River 115 B/16
Cellular telephones do not work in most of the park. Satellite phones or satellite messaging devices are strongly recommended.