The Chilkoot and White Pass trails were by far the most difficult obstacles facing the stampeders on their journey to the Klondike. Before the stampeders started using the trail in 1897, the Tlingit Indians used the trail for centuries as a trade route. The Tlingits were active in the Gold Rush as well, charging for their packing and guiding experience.
The Chillkoot Trail was sometimes called “the meanest 33 miles in history.” The trail ran from Dyea to Lake Bennett. Fifteen miles north of Dyea is the Chilkoot Pass, the high point of the trail. The final climb to the summit, a distance of ¾ mile, was so steep that steps were cut into the snow and ice to keep the stampeders from slipping down the nearly 45-degree slope. This portion of the trail got a nickname, the “Golden Stairs”, and it was so difficult that many stampeders turned back at this point.