|Regions: Klondike||Communities: Dawson City|
|Themes: Activities||Categories: Camping, Hiking, Klondike Gold Rush, Iconic Drives, Wilderness Parks, Wildlife|
Backcountry hiking at its finest
Known as the “Patagonia of the North”, Tombstone Territorial Park is located just a short drive (112km/69mi.) north of Dawson City. The craggy, granite peak of Tombstone Mountain, so named for its striking resemblance to a grave marker, is the most recognizable of the peaks that make up the park’s wind-carved mountain range. It’s a dramatic sub-arctic landscape that offers outstanding wildlife viewing, birding and hiking. The park lies within the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nations people who have hunted, camped and traded here for centuries.
One of the best times to visit is during late summer when the tundra vegetation paints the landscape in vivid crimson, gold and red.
The Grizzly Lake Trail
Leaving Dawson City on the North Klondike highway, you’ll turn north onto the Dempster Highway and drive to the Tombstone Interpretive Centre. Here you can find out the latest trail conditions and also pick up a bear cannister (which you’ll need for food storage). Then head back to the signposted trailhead, located 13km/8mi. south of the Centre. The Grizzly Lake Trail is the only established trail into the backcountry of Tombstone. It’s a well-marked and crosses rocky talus slopes, ridgelines and beautiful alpine meadows before arriving at Grizzly Lake, about 11km from the trailhead.
This is a full day hike with an elevation gain of 800 metres. With its sections of slippery talus slopes and rocky ridges, the trail is rated as difficult, so you’ll need to be fit. Despite the hard work, spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the entire Grizzly Valley will beckon you on.
Backcountry campgrounds are open from mid-June to mid-September and overnight reservations and permits from Environment Yukon are required.
A Land of Lakes and Mountains
Today the trail takes you through Glissade Pass to Divide Lake—a scenic campsite nestled below the sheer face of Mount Monolith. The hike to Divide Lake takes three to four hours and the first section of the trail is very challenging. You’ll start out with a one to two hour climb up an extremely steep talus slope with an elevation gain of about 300 metres over 1km. However, all the effort is worth it once you get to the top where you’ll be treated to incredible views of Mount Monolith and the surrounding peaks. Hiking down the other side of the pass is a lot easier.
The trail continues along a small stream with cairns (rock pile markers) to mark the way into the campground. Set up camp and enjoy a well-earned lunch. There are several day hikes from here including Axelman Lakes and Mount Frank Rae.
The Heart of Tombstone
Talus Lake, with its stellar views of Tombstone Mountain, is a one to two hour, easy to moderate day hike from Divide Lake. If you prefer to stay overnight, there are camping facilities available. The day starts with a gradual climb above Divide Lake and over Tombstone Pass. At the top of the pass you can savour magnificent views of the Tombstone and Cloudy ranges. The trail, marked with rock cairns, continues through a dazzling landscape of alpine cirques and small alpine lakes which you can also explore. As you get closer to Talus Lake, the views of Tombstone Mountain become ever more impressive. Once you reach the campground, either set up camp or head back to Divide Lake along the same trail.
Return to Grizzly Lake
Spend the morning relaxing and just soaking in the spectacular scenery before departing for Grizzly Lake.
Once there, if you’re feeling energetic, you can hike to the Twin Lakes and Mount Monolith Viewpoint. The route heads up the loose, rocky scree, beside a creek and on towards a small lake. From there, you’ll continue up to Grizzly Pass and onto a rocky ridge to the viewpoint. The views from here are amazing. Prepare to become a social media rock star once you post the photos.
The Trail Home
Today, return to the trailhead along the same route you came in on. From there, it’s back to Dawson City where a hot shower and soft bed have your name on them. Spend this evening painting the town. Stroll along wooden boardwalks past the town’s gold rush heritage buildings. Join in the lively fun with can-can dancers at Diamond Tooth Gerties. Or simply find a sunny deck and relax with a cocktail.
Tombstone Interpretive Centre