Kluane National Park: Canada's wild north

We generally think of the planet as old and decaying. The ice caps are melting, and mountains, which formed millions of years ago, are slowly eroding. But that’s not the case in Canada’s vast North. Kluane National Park and Reserve covers more than 21,000 square km in the southwest corner of the Yukon Territory. More than 80 percent of the park is backcountry, made up of glaciers and mountains that are still active to this day.

We were invited to Kluane to work with Parks Staff on the Auroil Trail, a popular 15km ski and hiking loop which climbs from the Alaska Hwy into the sub-alpine. After giving our IMBA Trail Building School in the morning to a number of Parks Canada staff and members of the community, Rachael and I headed out to the field to perform maintenance on a section of the Auriol. It was very helpful having the 20 year experience of Trail Crew Supervisor Brian Bakker to let us know the details about the area when considering our project.

Working with Brian and the trail crew, we decided to enhance an existing narrow singletrack reroute around a fall line section of trail. The old, eroded section of trail was properly closed with planted deadfall and trees from the area to help hide it's existance, while the narrow reroute was widened to match the rest of the trail experience and allow for emergency access

Reclaiming fall line trail on the Auriol

With more than 300km of maintained trails in Kluane, the crew does a great job of maintaining trail and keeping them enjoyable for all visitors. One of the important aspects of trail maintenance is that it helps to reduce the potential for unwanted interaction between visitors and wildlife, a real concern in the Yukon. Our small maintenance project with the trail crew not only reduced erosion from users and water, but also slowed them down as not to come across wildlife too quickly.

Kluane is a wild park; visitors may see Grizzly or Black Bears, Dall sheep, Moose, Deer, and Bald or Golden Eagles, among others. While this can be an exciting opportunity to see wildlife, safety precautions need to be taken when exploring. If you're in the area and have any questions about how to keep safe and have fun at the same time, be sure to visit the new visitor centre, or get a quick documentary-style introduction on the park with their exciting new mini film.

During our time in the Park we also had the opportunity to visit a number of other trails, including Kathleen Lake, Rock Glacier, King's Throne, and Alsek Valley.

Rock Glacier Trail

If you ever make the trip up to the Yukon, visiting Kluane is a must! The terrain and vistas are absolutely spectacular. Just don't forget to bring groceries (especially fruit and veggies) on your way to Haines Junction.

Kathleen Lake

A great big thanks to Jim, Brian, Sean and Mark from Parks Canada for making our trip really fantastic. We only scratched the surface of the Park and are already looking forward to returning for a backcountry hiking trip, to see your beautiful mountains again.

Photos from Kluane on Picasa