Your trip to the Laughton Glacier combines a scenic train ride aboard the historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railway with a wilderness trek to the magnificent Laughton Glacier, an adventure you won’t soon forget.
Guided Chilkoot Trail Backpacking Trip
A backpacking trip of a lifetime!
What to bring: PASSPORT. Please review our clothing/gear list below!
Provided: Fully catered! Guides, meals, cooking supplies, group gear, and more.
Trip Availability: Peak season is mid June through late August. We may be able to run trips outside of these dates.
Trip Duration: Typically, 5 days and 4 nights
- Pricing varies based packages and customization
Learn About Our Guided Chilkoot Trail Multi-Day Trip
For 2021, it is possible Chilkoot Trail trips may operate exclusively on the USA side of the border, due to Canadian border restrictions.
About the Chilkoot Trail
Originally used as a trade route to the interior by the native Tlingit tribes, the Chilkoot trail later provided passage for tens of thousands of gold seekers during the Klondike Gold Rush, more than 110 years ago. Today, this 33-mile hike provides an exceptional opportunity for modern-day adventurers to retrace the route of the Klondike stampeders. From tidal flats at Dyea, Alaska, the trail winds through coastal temperate rainforest, rises up through the sub-alpine, before ascending the granite boulders of the “Golden Stairs” and over Chilkoot Pass into Canada. The trail continues on to Lake Bennett by way of a rugged alpine landscape leading to a more gentle boreal forest terrain, bejeweled with picturesque sub-alpine lakes. Artifacts from the Klondike stampede still line the trail, reminding hikers of the historical significance of the trail.
Guide service includes:
- 1 guide for up to 6 hikers, 2 guides for 7-10 hikers
- Trail permit fees paid by Packer Expeditions*
- Train ticket paid by Packer Expeditions
- Transportation to the trailhead
- Transportation from the train depot
- Pack and gear check prior to hike
- All cooking supplies and utensils provided
- Group gear including bear spray, food storage materials, toilet paper, sunblock, bug repellent, water treatment, and first-aid kits provided
- A snack bag, customized by clients and provided prior to the hike
- Three meals per day, prepared by guide(s):
- Breakfast (includes hot water with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, oatmeal, bagels, and cream cheese)
- Lunch (bagels, cheeses, meats, smoked salmon and condiments)
- Dinner (home-cooked meals vacuum sealed, frozen and hiked into camps, including Mediterranean pasta, halibut chowder, steak tacos, Thai curry, and seafood jambalaya. Wine or margaritas can be provided with some meals if desired).
- We can cater to your personal preferences and dietary restrictions (ex: protein bars in place of candy, gluten-free, vegetarian, keto, etc.). Advance notice for any special considerations is greatly appreciated.
- Porter support, including food drops and additional assistance on summit day. Porters are also available to hike back to Dyea if anyone becomes unable to continue further on the trail. There will be Porter-assisted food drops at Sheep Camp (Day 2), Happy Camp (Day 3), and at Bare Loon Lake or Lindeman City(Day 4).
- A cooler with food and drinks to meet you on the train at either Bennett or Fraser
- Guides and porters carry food (other than your snacks), group gear (as defined above), and cooking supplies
- Hikers will be expected to carry personal items, including a water bottle, clothing, rain gear, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent. It is not unreasonable to keep your pack at somewhere in the area of 20-30 lbs.
- Equipment not included but available for rent through the Mountain Shop: Backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, rain gear, trekking pole(s).
Trip enters Canada. Guests much have a valid passport to clear U.S. and Canadian Immigration. Canada requires Visas from citizens of some countries, list can be provided.
Day 1: Dyea to Canyon CityAfter breakfast in Skagway, we’ll drive a scenic 10 miles to the trailhead at the historic townsite of Dyea. This National Historic Site has been primarily reclaimed by the forest, with little evidence of the original town of 10,000 remaining. The trip begins with a 7.8-mile trek to the gold-rush era townsite of Canyon City, gaining only about 500 feet of net elevation. At Canyon City, we will cross the river on a suspension bridge and explore the ruins including a large boiler, once used to power a tramway that carried stampeders’ “ton of goods” to the top of Chilkoot Pass. We will spend our first night camped on the banks of the Taiya River.
Day 2: Canyon City to Sheep Camp
The second day on the trail will be a fairly mild 4.2-mile trek to Sheep Camp, with a net elevation gain of fewer than 1,000 feet. The trail continues through lush coastal temperate rainforest terrain. After a hearty dinner, we’ll listen in on the backcountry ranger’s nightly talk at Sheep Camp before setting up camp, resting and refueling in preparation for our big day tomorrow.
Day 3: Sheep Camp to Happy Camp
We will eat breakfast and break camp early, as “summit day” is by far the most demanding stretch of the trail. We will climb 2,500 vertical feet in 3.5 miles to the Chilkoot Pass before crossing into Canada. Leaving Sheep Camp, we will climb steadily, eventually climbing above the tree line and entering the alpine. At mile 16, we gain views of the summit at “the scales,” where stampeders weighed their goods before crossing the pass into Canada. Here, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police required them to have enough supplies to subsist unaided for one year. The “Golden Staircase” begins here and leads to a warming shelter at the Chilkoot Pass. The terrain changes dramatically as we proceed another four miles along the alpine trail to Happy Camp, descending more than 700 feet in the process. After reaching Happy Camp, we will ultimately spend the night above the tree line.
Day 4: Happy Camp to Bare Loon Lake
After reaching the summit, the most strenuous part of the trip will be behind us. From Happy Camp, we will continue 8.5 miles to Bare Loon Lake. Though there will be a few modest climbs, we’ll drop over 500 feet of net elevation on our way to camp. Our route will meander alongside beautiful mountain streams and lakes. At Deep Lake, we enter the boreal forest and leave the high alpine terrain behind. We descend for three miles from Deep Lake to Lindeman City, a historic location where many stampeders spent the winter of 1897-98 building boats, intended to transport them and their supplies the 550 miles downstream to Dawson City and the Klondike. A Parks Canada exhibit of the old townsite gives us a great idea of what life was like during that period. We climb modestly from Lindeman to Bare Loon Lake where we make our camp for our final night.
Day 5: Bare Loon Lake to Lake Bennett
Our final day leaves us with just four mellow miles to cover before our train departs for Skagway at 2 p.m. Still, more scenic, sweeping vistas await us along the way. At Bennett, the original White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad Depot services hikers as a way back to Skagway. In addition, there are more Parks Canada exhibits, as well as a gold-rush era church that served as Bennett’s community center during the era. Bennett had an estimated population of 10,000 to 20,000 during the winter of 1897-98. When the ice cleared from Lake Bennett in May of 1898, some 7,000 boats were launched by gold seekers hoping to reach Dawson. Little did they know that the good claims were already taken! We board the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad for its 2 p.m. departure to Skagway, via the White Pass, the other of the two routes stampeders used to get to Lake Bennett. No verbal description can do justice to the spectacular 2.5-hour, 40-mile train ride back to Skagway, enhanced by a cooler of backcountry delights. Back in town, we will become reacquainted with hot showers, soft beds, and a variety of food and beverage options.
This is a basic list of recommended gear for the Chilkoot Trail to be used as a guide for gearing up your hike. Your personal needs may be more or perhaps less, depending on personal preference. Cotton and denim are not ideal hiking attire, especially when wet. We suggest clothing and gear made from breathable, moisture-wicking materials like nylon, polyester, wool, Gore-Tex or Capilene. Feet:
- Broken in hiking boots. This is a rocky trail with many stream crossings, full leather or synthetic waterproof is recommended.
- Socks. Minimum 3-4 pair high-quality, non-cotton hiking socks. 1 pair per day is best.
- Sandals or light camp shoe
- Moleskin, second skin, bandages
- Shorts. 1-2 pair nylon recommended.
- Pants. 1-2 pair nylon.
- Mid-weight Capilene or polypropylene underlayer
- Rain pants
- Short sleeve shirt
- Mid-weight Capilene or polypropylene top
- Heavier insulation layer (polar fleece, thin down or synthetic-fill jacket or similar layer)
- Wind resistant jacket
- Rain jacket with hood (no ponchos)
- Gloves and/or glove liners
- Hand warmers
- Ball cap or sunhat for UV protection
- Warm hat
- Knife or multitool
- Lighter/ matches
- Bug dope
- Sleeping bag rated for expected temperatures
- Hydro-seal stuff sack for sleeping bag
- Insulation pad
- ##Ground tarp
- Eating utensils
- Water purifier
- Water bottles
- 30 feet 4-millimeter rope for food storage from bears
- Medical kit
- Ziplock storage sacks for clothing and essential items
- ##Pack cover
**Depending upon conditions, may or may not be needed
Additional Gear Information:
- This is a recommended list for summer hiking conditions; spring, fall and winter conditions require additional gear.
- If you get cold easily additional consideration should be given warm layers.
- When hiking in a group, distribute the non-personal items evenly so that all packs are near equal weight.
- The Chilkoot is a difficult hike, keeping the weight to a minimum will make your hike more enjoyable.
For information on gear available in Skagway, The Mountain Shop is ready to answer all gear questions. (907) 983-2544
- Parks Canada is officially not allowing hikers to use the Bare Loon Cutoff and it is illegal to hike on the tracks in Canada. Previously there was a “look the other way” approach to the law. No longer.
- Commercial groups over 8 (including guides) can only cross the pass on even numbered dates.
- Peak season is late June through early August. July itineraries, especially ones meeting the train, will likely fill the fastest.
- There will be more snow earlier, such as in June. Some hikers prefer the snow cover and find some of the hiking easier than on the rocks that are covered rather than exposed. Some don’t. You may or may not want or need extra equipment such as gaiters earlier in the season.
Important Transportation Information
- Southbound train from Bennett to Skagway is scheduled to run on Tuesdays and Fridays only. If you are hoping or planning to meet the train, you must take this into account when planning your hike.
- Northbound train from Bennett to Carcross is scheduled to run only on Wednesdays and Thursdays and Saturdays. Train schedules can change. Check with the White Pass and Yukon Route if you are unsure. http://www.wpyr.com/yukonadventure.html
- Therefore, there is no train from Bennett scheduled on Sundays and Mondays.
- Alaska Airlines http://www.alaskaair.com/ is the only airline that services Juneau. They are based in Seattle, and most if not all flights into and out of Juneau connect through Seattle. Don’t be surprised if you get a bonus night in Seattle as a result of a long layover.
- The most affordable way to get between Juneau and Skagway is the Alaska State Ferry, the Alaska Marine Highway. It typically takes about 6.5 hours to make the 90-mile journey, though occasionally there is a fast ferry that takes less than half that time. http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/index.shtml Schedules change, but typically in the summer, there is daily service between Juneau and Skagway. Always double check, and recheck your scheduled ferry, as one broken ferry can mess up the whole system.
- If the ferry schedule is similar to past summers, it can be possible to avoid the night in Juneau by getting an early flight out of Seattle, and catching the ferry (or a flight, but you never know for sure if those will go) the same day. If you overnight in Juneau, make sure that your hotel gives complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport and ferry, or you can pay more for taxi service than your room. There is also a hostel in downtown Juneau called the Driftwood Hotel http://www.driftwoodalaska.com/ which is the most affordable overnight option. It’s downtown, so you can get around by walking and they have free shuttle service to all transport hubs.
- You can also fly on small planes between Juneau and Skagway, but these flights are always dependent on the weather. They don’t fly if the clouds are too low. We suggest the Full Flex ticket option and keeping the ferry in mind as a back-up transportation option. Two services operate flights on this route, Alaska Seaplanes https://www.flyalaskaseaplanes.com/ and Air Excursions http://www.airexcursions.com/.
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Contact us to inquire about custom options.
P.O. Box 601
Skagway, AK 99840
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 907-983-3005 / Fax: 907-983-3544