Sunday, July 28, 2019

Chilkoot Trail Start

Chilkoot Trail Start
Historic Chilkoot Trail, Dyea Trailhead
Trailhead Elevation: 38 ft.
Distance: 2.46 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 414 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 3:47pm
End Time: 5:15pm

Trip Report:
The Chilkoot trail trailhead has signage and primitive bathrooms and starts at the bridge over the Tarya River. We carried very little with us expecting a short hike and, being on a cruise, we simply didn't have any special gear along. I had a light backpack with a few basic snacks and a nalgene. The kids didn't carry anything. We set out along the trail figuring we'd do 1-2 miles round trip just to get a taste of the Chilkoot. I had honestly been expecting a little more open scenery with views of the river and the landscape ahead but we had almost none of this. We were in the thick of the coastal rainforest for the entire trek.
Starting out on the Chilkoot
We started pretty much at the river level and went up and over a couple of small climbs rising almost to 300 feet above sea level. The forest was thick around us but the trail was in great condition. There were plenty of rocks and roots but it was very passable and easy to follow. We ended up hiking in just over a mile until the trail came up next to a small offshoot of the main river. This felt like a good turnaround. There we saw a downed tree with amazing evidence of beaver activity and all their teeth marks.
Brief signage before the trail enters the forest
On the hike back out, retracing our steps, we encountered 3 different couples of hikers who all looked as though they were backpacking to do the whole Chilkoot. David and I certainly have aspirations of making this entire historic trek ourselves someday. No doubt it would be a treat. We talked with Tom earlier in the day about how people do this. When you arrive in Bennett in the Yukon there is a question of where to go from there. He said a lot of people hike the railroad tracks out to the log cabin where the tracks meet the main highway. We passed that very spot on our tour earlier in the day. From there I can't recall if they can schedule a ride or if they hitchhike or exactly what they do next. It sounds like the exit from Bennett is certainly one of the big logistical questions of hiking the whole Chilkoot.
While today's hike didn't get us deep into the classic spots on the Chilkoot or the beautiful alpine sections, there was something surreal to being walking in the footsteps of this historic place and imaging just how much things have change ... or not changed ... here in the last 100 years.

Well maintained trail at the beginning

Plenty of roots and lush vegetation

The beavers have been very active

Turnaround point, an offshoot of the Tarya River

I have a track and waypoints from the hike all contained in a KML file that you are welcome to download and use (at your own risk).  The extra waypoints of the Chilkoot Trail are mostly all estimated so do not use any of this as a navigational aid while actually hiking. This is for overview and estimation purposes only.

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