“The summer – no sweeter was ever;
The sunshiny woods all a thrill;
The Grayling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness –
Oh God! How I’m stuck on it all.”
Robert Service – The Spell of the Yukon
Kluane National Park – no other place offers more superlatives to the active nature enthusiast and wilderness fan.
If you are looking to experience the world’s largest non-polar ice field, Canada’s highest mountain or the densest grizzly population – then you should accompany us on our hikes through this wonderfully rugged wilderness.
Tucked into the south-west corner of the Yukon, the park lies adjacent to Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, and the Tatshenshini Provincial Park in British Columbia. Combined this area has become the largest land preserve on the planet.
As a huge glaciated mountain range bordered by a greenbelt thriving with animal and plant life, Kluane National Park has even more to justify being declared a World Heritage Site. Protected from hunting and mining the St. Elias Mountains offer true pristine nature. Uncountable glaciers, high alpine peaks, and green meadows provide undisturbed habitat for Mountain Goats, Dall Sheep, Black and Grizzly Bear as well as Eagles, Wolves and Lynx. Clear fresh waters support schools of Trout and Arctic Grayling.
There are playful streams and wild rivers, steep alpine ascents and moderate back country trails. Lush valleys that yield a diverse array of plant alternate with majestic mountain peaks, all of which deserve our fullest admiration.
Come and experience Canada’s most exciting 21,980 square kilometres.
|Duration:||7 days / 6 nights – at Kluane National Park|
|Distance:||180 Kilometres west of Whitehorse|
|Difficulty:||Varied levels of hiking from beginner to intermediate|
|Group Size:||Minimum 4 + Guide
Maximum 9 + Guide
Arrival in Whitehorse. The Up North Adventures shuttle will greet you at the airport. Meet the other trip participants today, where your guide will verify your personal gear and go through any last minute questions. Participants are then invited to explore the City of Whitehorse, enjoy a good meal or take in some historic sights on their own. Enjoy your first night in Whitehorse in a downtown hotel (included in price) located within walking distance of many attractions and restaurants.
Group officially meets at 10:00am at the Up North base in Whitehorse. After a quick gear review to make sure participants are properly equipped, we will be shuttled by van to our log cabin base camp at Kluane National Park, about a two hour drive, and the start of our hiking adventure. The afternoon will be spent getting acquainted with our camp and taking a short introductory hike along Lower Kathleen Lakes. This trail suits all levels of hikers with fantastic views of these three wonderful lakes. Lunch break is at Mud Lake, and from where we’ll head back to our cabin. Supper will be prepared over an open fire near the cabin. We will see the sun set behind the peaks of King’s Throne Mountain.
We start early with a hearty breakfast and set out for the trailhead of Auriol Trail, about 30 minutes away from our base camp. The hike begins in dense pine and poplar forests, and proceeds along a crystal clear alpine creek until we reach the tree line around midday. Our lunch break will be spent on the highest point of today’s excursion taking in far reaching views of Dezadeash Lake to the South and Pine Lake to the east of Haines Junction. The Auriol Traill loops around, bringing us back to where our van awaits us. A quick visit to the nearby small town community of Haines Junction offers hot showers and a stop at the coffee shop.
Having now broken in our boots and bones we attempt to climb King’s Throne, which we have glimpsed from our tents each morning. King’s Throne summit is roughly 2.000 meters high with an elevation gain of plus 1.200 meters and is located directly in front of our cabin. Starting along sky blue Kathleen Lake we enter the switch backs of an ancient glacier moraine, which leads us up the “Throne”, the left over bowl of an old cirque glacier. Lunch will help us decide if we want to push on. The now steep and rocky route to the summit is challenging, but you will be rewarded with a stunning view into the amazing icy back ranges of the St. Elias Mountains. You will not regret committing to this ascent.
With the hiking in full swing, it is time to see one Kaskawush glacier, of the most famous glaciers of Kluane National Park. A one hour drive brings us north to Kluane Lake. Weather permitting this hike will take us up again to just under 2.000 meters, facilitated by a half day walk on a relatively easy mining road. More than a hundred years ago, when Kluane was not yet declared a National Park, miners used to dig for gold, silver and copper in these hills.
Already during our ascent we catch glimpses of smaller glaciers hanging below the peaks on the for side of Slim’s River, where we started our day’s journey. This trail is called Sheep Creek Hike and for good reason: groups of wild Dall Sheep can often be seen grazing on the nearby hillsides and numerous times we have run into them right on the trail. Silence and patience can provide for some once-in-a-lifetime close-ups of these graceful animals.
Our last day in the foothills of Kluane means big mountains. We deserve a treat: 30 kilometres south we pass windy Dezadeash Lake and reach the trail head to St. Elias Lake. A short one hour hike ends directly at the waters of this small emerald green mountain lake, the nearby slopes rising straight up from its shores. Here we have time to take in this wonderful alpine panorama, relax on the flower strewn meadow at the lake and have a BBQ on an open fire. Mountain goats are often seen on the higher elevations of the surrounding hills.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. We must return to base camp and prepare for the trip back to Whitehorse. A fine supper in one of the city’s restaurants and another night in a well earned hotel bed will end this unforgettable adventure.
Up North Adventures shuttle van awaits you at your hotel and will bring you to the airport where we can say: “Thanks for being part of our summer and see you again!”
Kluane National Park Photos
Due to the expeditionary nature of this program, changes to the itinerary are a possibility and are left up to the discretion of the guide. All attempts will be made to complete the trip within the outlined timeline.