Chilkoot Trail Conditions Report
July 15, 2014
U.S. Park Service Rangers and Parks Canada Wardens are on patrol. There is no cell phone coverage along the trail. Iridium Satellite phones may work in some areas. Satellite phone users may seek 24 hour emergency assistance through Denali Dispatch at 1-907-683-6351 in US or Jasper Dispatch at 1-877-852-3100 in Canada. At Log Cabin your closest contact for help is Canadian Customs at Fraser (four miles south of Log cabin parking lot along the Klondike Highway). Bad weather conditions may delay medical or rescue assistance for several days. Helicopter medical evacuations from the trail will cost a minimum of $1600. Trail hikers are advised to consult their medical insurance policies before starting their hike.
The Chilkoot Trail is snow free to the false summit. Due to recent rainfall hikers can expect boot to knee high water levels and muddy sections on the trail particularly the first three miles. Due to structural damage the bridge to the Canyon City ruins is closed until further notice. The Golden Stairs are snow free. LEAVE SHEEP CAMP NO LATER THAN 5A.M. From the Pass to Happy Camp expect 30% snow coverage and lots of creek crossings. Happy Camp to Lindeman City expect a couple patches of snow. Use caution in transition zones. Shelters are available at most campgrounds for preparing meals and warming up. Increased travel times and delays can be expected under certain weather conditions and white-outs. Sunny weather will increase the chance of afternoon slides in avalanche zones. Trekking poles and gaiters highly recommended. SEE AVALANCHE WARNING BELOW.
Weather conditions above tree line change quickly and can be more extreme as elevation is gained. Rain, fog, high winds, snow and sleet can be expected any time of year. Temperatures near freezing at night at higher elevations should be anticipated. Come dressed and prepared for hypothermic environmental conditions even when the forecast calls for sunny conditions. Snow travel and sunny days warrant sunscreen, protective hat or visor and sunglasses.
A permit is required to overnight on the Chilkoot Trail. Hikers are required to register and pay fees with the International Trail Center on 2nd & Broadway in Skagway prior to hike. Hikers also need to show passport and fill out paperwork for Canadian Customs. Hours of operation are 8-5 daily.
Avalanche conditions currently exist between Sheep Camp and Happy Camp. Avalanche conditions can also develop elsewhere in the park given the right set of conditions ie. slope, terrain, weather, and snow pack composition. When travelling through avalanche terrain, you need to be capable of identifying and assessing avalanche hazards. You need to be knowledgeable about route finding, avalanche safety and rescue in mountainous terrain. You should be properly equipped with shovels, avalanche transceivers, and probes. Travel early, at first light, to avoid afternoon post-holing and increased hazard for avalanche due to solar heating of the snow pack. Choose your route and campsite locations carefully to avoid unstable slopes and hazardous avalanche terrain areas.
Brown and black bears are encountered frequently on the trail. Stay on the trail, travel in groups if possible. Use food storage devices that are located at all of the designated campgrounds. For your safety cook and eat at shelters, so as to keep food smells away from your tent site. Do not leave pack unattended at any point on the trail. Pack out all garbage! Do not place wrappers and trash in wood stoves!
For additional information stop by the NPS Visitor Center in Skagway or call(907) 983-2921. This report is intended to stress the changing trail conditions only and will not substitute for the essential information found in other brochures and your own common sense. For Web information, visit http://www.nps.gov/klgo/chilkoot.htm
Did You Know?
No gold was ever found in the Skagway River valley. The actual gold fields were approximately 550 miles north, near the junction of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers in Dawson City. Skagway became known as the gateway to the Klondike gold fields, a bustling supply town.