Group leader responsibility
Leading a hike over the Chilkoot Trail with a group requires that everyone in your party is prepared. As a leader, it is your responsibility to make sure that everyone in your group has the most current information possible. It is recommended that all group leaders contact the park several months prior to arrival. Park Rangers can assist you in making sure that you have the most current information available before arriving in Skagway.
Parks Canada has specific guidelines for groups with minors.
Commercial and paid guides or outfitters are required by the National Park Service to obtain a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) to operate within a National Park. You can find a list of permitted guides on the Alaska National Parks Commercial Use page.
Group size is limited to twelve
This minimizes impacts on the trail, artifacts, vegetation, wildlife, and fellow hikers. Groups larger than twelve are required to camp at separate sites, and follow different itineraries. Please contact the park so we can advise you on dates that will limit conflicts with other groups.
The Chilkoot Trail is an international trail managed by the National Park Service and Parks Canada. All campsites along the trail must be reserved in advanced by calling 1-800-661-0486 (867-667-3910 local/overseas). When making your reservation you must specify which campgrounds your group will use. Upon arriving in Skagway, groups will need to register and pick up their permits at the Trail Center. There you will be advised of weather, bear safety, and trail conditions.
Being prepared before you arrive
The National Park Service wants you and your group to have a safe and positive experience during your time on the Chilkoot trail. Here are a few suggestions that may help you in preparing for the adventure that waits.
- Make sure that all of your equipment is in proper order and is working correctly. You may want to test your stove, adjust your pack, and set up your tent to make sure that none of the parts are missing.
- Make sure that you are aware of the procedures for camping and traveling in bear country.
- Make sure that you have enough food to last your entire trip and proper clothing for changing weather conditions.
First aid awareness
The Chilkoot Trail can be an unpredictable place. Groups that are prepared to deal with first aid emergencies can prevent a disaster. The Park Service recommends that the group leader be certified in at least basic first aid and CPR. The following are suggestions you may want to consider.
- Make sure to bring adequate first aid supplies and insure that everyone in your group knows how to use them.
- Be aware of any member illness or injury that may result in further harm while hiking the trail.
- Be aware of any medications that a group member may need while hiking the Chilkoot Trail.
Hiking boots are strongly recommended. Hikers will encounter boulder fields, snow fields, deep mud and stream crossings along the way. Therefore, proper footwear is necessary to reduce the risk of broken bones, sprained ankles, and wet feet.
Check list: am I prepared to lead a group on the Chilkoot Trail?
- Contacted Parks Canada Reservations to discuss dates and purchase permits.
- Have current certification in CPR and Basic First Aid
- Have an adequate first aid kit and have instructed the group on how to use it.
- Set up all tents to ensure all parts are present and working properly.
- Examined sleeping bags.
- Practiced filling and lighting camping stoves.
- Have reviewed a pack list.
- Have prepared enough food and supplies to last several days past the planned trip length.
- Have informed the entire group the importance of sterilizing water by means of boiling, liquid treatment, or through a water filter.
- Practiced wearing and adjusting pack to insure a proper fit.
- Prepared adequate clothing for the trip; (e.g. rain coat, rain pants, sunglasses, long underwear, gloves, hats and sunscreen)
- Have suitable hiking boots for steep, rocky terrain with wet and snowy conditions.
- Have read the Chilkoot Trail orientation packet.
- Know how to handle food in bear country and have 30 feet of rope or parachute cord and sac.
These books are good references for learning more about hiking, low impact camping, bears and the Gold Rush History.
Walking Softly in the Wilderness: The Sierra Guide to Backpacking,
San Francisco, Sierra Club Books:1984
The Klondike Fever,
New York, Carroll and Graf: 1985
Medicine for Mountaineering and Other Wilderness Activities, 4th. ed.,
Seattle, The Mountaineers: 1992
Bear Attacks Their Causes and Avoidance, Stephen Herrero,
New York, Lyons and Burford: 1985
Important Contact Information
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
PO Box 517
Skagway, AK 99840
Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site
205-300 Main St.
Whitehorse Yukon, Y1A 2B5
For Reservations: 1-800-661-0486 OR 1-867-667-3910 (local/overseas)