Follow the Footsteps of Gold-Crazed Prospectors

Chilkoot Trail, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Alaska
Chilkoot Trail

Lindeman Creek’s rapids splash trailside on the backend of the Chilkoot route. Photo by: Justin Walker

Picture this: A hoard of anxious trekkers assembles in the shadow of a snow-capped mountain range. Glaciers adorn the peaks, their icy tendrils melting into a lush alpine valley. The hikers await permission from local rangers to proceed. The criterion for a permit? One ton of gear—enough to survive a full year prospecting for gold in the Yukon. Sorry, ultralighters!

More than a hundred years later, visitors can relive the Klondike Gold Rush on the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail, which cuts through a rainforest to a glacier-framed pass. Start at Dyea, a 19th-century oceanside boomtown, and spend night one at Finnegan’s Point (mile 4.8) on the banks of the Taiya River. Old hand tools and rusty appliances litter the way en route to Sheep Camp (mile 13), which hides in the spruces near the river. Next day, climb 3,501-foot Chilkoot Pass (killer view of ice-capped, 5,876-foot Mt. Hoffmann here) and descend to Happy Camp (mile 20.5), which overlooks the glacier-hewn shores of Long Lake. From here, it’s an easy 12.5 miles to Bennett Lake.

Distance 33 miles; 4-5 days Trailhead 59.511691, -135.346530; call (907) 617-7551 for a shuttle from Skagway. Season Late May through early September Permit Required June-September ($64/person); obtain at the Chilkoot Trail Center in Skagway or call (867) 667-3910