Hiking, hiking, hiking! A topic that I am asked the most about on my Instagram! It has been a couple of years since I updated the list of my favourite local trails, and since hiking season is right around the corner (yahoo!!) – I thought I would share my revised list of my favourite hikes here in the Yukon! I found it quite challenging to narrow it down to just ten hikes, and even harder to knock a couple of my favourites off from my previous list, but as I keep hiking this list will always change! A new addition I also made to this blog is to give you a rating on the personal difficulty of the hike. This rating is personal to ME, and will not be the same for you. Only you can make a judgement on your own skills, fitness level, and comfort in our dynamic and remote wilderness.
***Please always recreate responsible on our fragile land, carry bear spray (!!!!!!!!!!!) and respect seasonal and requested closures of the trails. End of rant. Here are my top 10 favourite Yukon hikes – SO FAR!
Grizzly Lake Trail (Grizzly Lake to Talus Lake)
Highlights: The company, autumn colours, toughness, Pikas, and feelings of accomplishment.
Personal Difficulty Rating: 4.5/5
It feels suiting to start my list off with a hike that was on my bucket list since the day I first stepped foot in the Yukon in 2012. This is one of those trails where it is impossible to take a bad photo, and the trail has enough rocks, elevation gain, and remoteness to make you feel like superman by the time you are done hiking each day. I’ve had the chance to hike this beautiful 40 km trail three times, including during the peak of the beautiful autumn colours. It takes you deep into the beautiful remote mountains of Tombstone Territorial Park and truly is a backcountry hikers dream. With no campfires allowed (lack of trees and a very sensitive ecosystem), this trail will test your gear, your balance, and how well you like your hiking companions. This northern mountain range can bring a blast of winter weather at any moment (as we encountered in late August). Check out my adventure from my first time hiking this trail here. This trail can be done as a day hike with wonderful views into Grizzly Lake, but I highly recommend doing the full 40 km hike into Talus Lake as a 4-6 day journey. It is for good reason that this hike is top on the list for landscape photographers and outdoorsy influencers, but it truly is a difficult hike, so be ready for it!
Tachal Dhal Ridge
Highlights: Glacier and lake views, wildlife
Personal Difficulty Rating: 4.5/5
Tachal Dhal Ridge (known also as Sheep Mountain Ridge), is a favourite of mine for a number of reasons. When I first came to the Yukon, I was based along the shores of Kluane Lake, staring at this beauty of a mountain. I later went on to work for Kluane National Park and Reserve, where I spent a lot of my summer working at the interpretive centre at the base of this mountain. So when I had the chance to do the full ridge route, I couldn’t pass it up. It is a commitment of a hike and requires a bit route finding and logistics as the loop does not join back up with where it starts. This steep leg burner climb graces you with fantastic views of Kluane Lake and then veers you in the direction of the Slims River Valley where you can see the Kaskawulsh Glacier in the distance. This trail is a haven for wildlife, especially sheep, golden eagles, and grizzly bears. Best to bring along a bunch of friends and make a lot of noise to warn the bears that you’re just wandering through their home. Please respect the seasonal trail closure that has been put in place by Parks Canada for sheep lambing.
Highlights: Rock formations
Personal Difficulty Rating: 4/5
The Tors is just a magical place, and the trail to these Stonehenge-like natural rock wonders is a fun mix of boreal woods, hills, cliffs, and lovely sub-alpine floral landscapes. I have had the opportunity to hike this 13km trail twice (and I am glad I have, as I took the wrong ridge down the first time and ended up adding an extra six hours down a sketchy bear-poop bushwhacking non-trail). If you can only hike one trail in the Yukon, this place is too magical to pass up, but be ready for a long day!
St. Elias Lake
Highlights: Reward for little effort, mountain lake, and lush forests
Personal Difficulty Rating: 1/5
St. Elias Lake truly is a gem of a hike. Situated within Kluane National Park and Reserve, this often forgotten about little trail is one of the most rewarding hikes for your minimal effort. This also makes it a great hike for kids, or if you want to get into backcountry camping. The trailhead begins off the Haines Highway (about 60 km from the community of Haines Junction) and meanders through a lush boreal forest for the majority of the hike. Within not too long (about 4km, mountains begin to emerge all around you and after a final jaunt through some dense willows, you’re suddenly at the most beautiful green lake at the base of a stunning mountain. I always thought this would be a fun trail to run sometime, but bears can certainly be abundant.
Charcoal Creek Ridge
Highlights: Scenery, wildlife viewing, the challenge
Personal Difficulty Rating: 3.5/5
Another hike in Tombstone Territorial Park that made the list! I have a soft spot for the types of hikes that start off with a grunt of a hill and then becomes a beautiful ridge stroll in the alpine. I guess you could argue that most of the hikes in the Yukon are like this, but there is something special about Charcoal Creek Ridge. Perhaps it’s the lack of trail that puts your route finding skills to the test, or being surrounded by the beautiful tombstone mountains, but this trail is a stunner and can be accessed right across from the Territorial Campground without having to drive to a trailhead.
Highlights: Camping at the alpine lake
Personal Difficulty Rating: 3/5
My first new addition to the list (and easily one of my very top favourites)! The Bock’s Lake trail is a true gem – taking you deep into the Kluane Wildlife Sanctuary. While this hike can be done as a two day hike (one day hiking in and one day hiking out), I highly recommended doing it as a three day hike. It’s not a hike for those with weaker ankles, as 98% of the 12km journey (24km return) is on a never ending rocky creek bed. That is one of the reasons I feel having the extra day in the middle to rest up (or at least get off that creek bed with your heavy pack), is highly recommended. And once you finish that awful final (and the only) steep climb up to the lake, you will be glad to be staying in that picturesque wilderness for longer. If rest is not your thing, there are some stunning day hike options right from your camp at the lake that can take you to some beautiful lookout views into the Kluane Icefields.
Highlights: Untouched remote landscape and wildflowers
Personal Difficulty Rating: 2/5
Another Kluane National Park and Reserve trail that makes my top ten cut. And for good reason. When I worked for the national park I had the opportunity to hike this stunning 13 km trail. Only a small handful of hikers check out this trail each year, mostly because it’s trail head is 5.5km down a very rough road called the Mush Lake Road. This trail is a remote and lush paradise, with lovely mountain views and incredible wildflowers. This is certainly a hike where you notify your safety contacts of your plans, as it would take you a very long time to hike out to the road (which I’ve almost had to do because of a flat tire!!).
Highlights: The 360 degree mountain and glacier views
Personal Difficulty Rating: 5/5
The second new addition to my list is a bucket list hike that I finally did last summer, situated in Kluane National Park and Reserve. I debated whether to include this hike, since I had a traumatizing near-death creek crossing accident on this hike and wouldn’t wish that on anyone else. But accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere, and despite what I experienced, it truly was one of the most incredible hikes I have ever done. To get to the start of this hike, it requires a 22km hike of the Slims River West Trail, which makes a hike up Observation Mountain a 66km hike (3 to 4 day effort). Observation Mountain is a fantastic and difficult 22km day hike option full of deep and fast flowing glacier creek crossings, VERY steep climbs, some route finding, and ultimately a stunning view overlooking the Kaskawulsh Glacier. The whole hike has endless mountain views in one of the most wildlife landscapes in North America. I highly recommended starting this hike as early in the day as possible since the creek will rise considerably during the daylight heat from the sun.
Highlights: Mountain views, technical terrain, and being able to see this mountain every day
Personal Difficulty Rating: 4.5/5
Mount Lorne is one of the bigger mountains that you can see every day from downtown Whitehorse, and it remains as the most challenging and wonderful hikes that I have ever done. To get the most out of this 19km hike, conquering this bad boy as a loop over the peaks is the way to go. It’s best to hike this in July when you have longer daylight hours and a snow-free route. This was certainly a ‘type 2 fun’ type of hike for me. It is not a trail for the faint of heart, with loose rocks, steep drop off, and multiple challenging peaks. Having sure footing and confidence with heights is must. This hike can also be notoriously famous for hard route finding as it is far too easy to miss the ATV trail that joins back to the trail head. Maybe it’s the bragging rights or technical challenge that has landed this one on the list, but this trail will reward you with some of the most stunning mountain views right close to the city.
Highlights: The 360 degree never ending views, the grunt, and the wildlife.
Personal Difficulty Rating: 4/5
Caribou mountain is a dream hike for those who love a good leg burner and stunning landscape views. Situated close to the community of Carcross, this trail doesn’t mess around – climbing 1000 meters in just 4km. This trail has made my top 10 list because the views are truly stunning for the whole hike, especially in the autumn season. This is certainly a hike to bring your binos, as sheep and caribou are often hanging out nearby. Please respect the local First Nation Governments request not to hike on this mountain until after June 15th (for sheep lambing).