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Hiking the Auriol Trail in Kluane National Park

A hike on the Auriol Trail in Yukon’s Kluane National Park is a must if you’re in the area. There aren’t many accessible hikes in the park that offer what this one does – superb sub-alpine and alpine scenery within 8 kilometers of the start of the trail – and better yet, the hike is an easy one. With the trailhead located only 10 minutes south of Haines Junction, it’s a hike you can knock off in as little as three hours or you could take the whole day and have fun getting lost in the high alpine.

"The start of the Auriol Trail in Kluane National Park"

The start of the Auriol Trail

The Auriol Trail begins in open grass fields that are ablaze with colour by the end of August. For the first 2 kilometers the trail follows an old wagon road that was first used as a cross-country ski trail. It climbs gradually through a forest of white spruce, aspen and poplar to reach a junction and the start of the loop section of trail. It is here that the scenery takes a dramatic turn for the better.

Stay left on the loop for an easier ascent. This part of the trail crosses a number of streams, passes through meadows where moose may be spotted and continues up past Arctic flora until it reaches a wilderness campsite on the banks of a river at the 7.3 kilometer mark. The views of the Auriol Range are superb.

"The 3.2 km mark on the Auriol Trail in Kluane NP"

The 3.2 km mark on the Auriol Trail

Kluane National Park, Yukon

Watch for moose as you hike past the pond and through the meadows

"John looking for birds along the Auriol Trail"

John looking for birds

"Superb mountain views are enjoyed from our lunch spot"

Superb mountain views are enjoyed from our lunch spot

"Kluane National Park"

There are loads of peaks to bag and lots of territory in the alpine to explore

"I'm smiling because at the halfway point we haven't even seen bear scat"

I’m smiling because at the halfway point we haven’t even seen bear scat

Backcountry Camping

At the campsite, located just past the 7.3 kilometer post, you’ll find tent pads, a pit toilet and a bear proof pole for hanging your food. Hikers with the time and interest can explore the high alpine off trail via a spur trail from the 8.2 kilometer marker. Serious mountaineers and scramblers have the option of many peaks, both named and unnamed to climb from here.

"There are four backcountry sites and a pit toilet"

There are four backcountry sites and a pit toilet

"John demonstrating how to hang a bag so the bears can't get it"

John demonstrating how to hang a bag so animals (bears) can’t get at it

The descent is steeper than the ascent but it’s certainly not difficult. Don’t forget to look back from time to time. There are still excellent views of the mountains. And take the short spur trail about halfway down so you can get an overview of the mountains and of Haines Junction.

"Big valley views near the high point on the Auriol Trail"

Big valley views near the high point on the Auriol Trail

"Kluane National Park"

The fall colours are at their peak in the first week of September

"It pays to look back on the descent"

It pays to look back on the descent

"Looking down at Haines Junction, Yukon"

Looking down at Haines Junction

"Fall colours in Kluane National Park"

The forest floor is carpeted with red

Kluane National Park is located 160 kilometers west of Whitehorse and 238 kilometers north of Haines, Alaska. Peak times to visit the park are from mid-June until mid-September. Kluane National Park and its’ next door neighbour, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, were together declared a UNESCO site in 1979. They play host to the world’s largest non-polar icefields. Between the two parks, you’ll also find the largest concentration of Dall sheep in the world. Grizzly and black bears as well as moose are some of the other large mammals you might see.

And for a great place to stay while you’re visiting the park – that’s off the grid, I recommend The Cabin, located just past Kathleen Lake – though it’s only open on a seasonal basis.

"The Cabin - near Kathleen Lake"

The Cabin – near Kathleen Lake

"The Cabin near Kathleen Lake"

Flowers are everywhere

Have you ever been to Kluane National Park – or the Yukon Territory?

Hiking the Auriol Trail in Kluane National ParkLeigh McAdam


Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Kelly Temple says:

    I’ve camped in Whitehorse and outside Kluane National Park. Always wanted to go back up there and explore the area further. Your photos are great, looks like you had the perfect weather for the hike!
    Another great are to explore is Chilkat State Park outside of Haines AK. Absolutely gorgeous, and when you get tired of camp food great places in town to shop and eat.

  • Johanna says:

    Another lovely trail from you Leigh, and you so give me itchy feet. I was amazed to see how you have to hang your packs to keep them away from the bears. Wow! In Australia we have to ‘bang’ our shoes and bags for fear of spiders overnighting in them!

    • @Johanna I have banged shoes in the desert southwest and Mexico to get rid of scorpions and spiders. Keeping one’s food away from one’s tent, in a bear proof container or out of reach, keeps the bears wilder and they don’t then associate humans with food.

  • Jackie Smith says:

    I, too, would be smiling at the absence of bear scat! Stunning, stunning photos in this one. . .what a beautiful route!!

  • Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans says:

    I love your pictures (as always) and the fall colors are gorgeous. The picture of the mountain’s reflection in the meadow is gorgeous, and The Cabin looks like a quaint place to stay. This is great inspiration to get out and explore the outdoors more!

    • @Dana We lucked out with the weather on this hike too. We had our own small cabin, just up the road a bit from the main one. It was private, clean, cozy and a perfect place to call home for a few days.

  • Sophie says:

    I’m fascinated by those bear poles. They’re an essential part of camping or even just hiking in Canada, I imagine. Do you take them with you or are they set up by the government/council at intervals? Would be very interesting to hear more about how one deals with bears – or the risk of bears – when hiking in North America.

    • @Sophie At many backcountry sites there are bear proof boxes instead of poles. On latest backpacking trip into full on grizzly country we had to carry our food in bear proof canisters inside our pack.I always carry bear spray with me and if I have driven as I can’t take them on the plane – I bring bear bangers as well. For all the outdoor adventures I’ve had this summer, I have only seen one small black bear from the car.

  • Incredible photos, Leigh! We were briefly in the Yukon territory on a shore excursion from Skagway, Alaska a few years back but didn’t see much. The Yukon is at the top of my husband’s travel wish list though so I expect I’ll be there some day in the not too distant future!

  • Renuka says:

    This is SO gorgeous. I was lost in your photos! Is there a way I can get there!?

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