Superb sub-alpine and alpine scenery

Auriol Trail Hike in Kluane National Park

Hiking 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 kilometres of the start of the trail.
 |  Leigh Mcadam  |  Adventures

Hiking 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 kilometres of the start of the trail.

 

Better yet, the Auriol Trail 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
The start of the Auriol Trail

What the hike on the Auriol Trail looks like

The Auriol Trail begins in open grass fields that are ablaze with colour by the end of August. For the first 2 kilometres 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 km mark. The views of the Auriol Range are superb.

The 3.2 km mark on the Auriol Trail
The 3.2 km mark on the Auriol Trail
Watch for moose as you hike past the pond and through the meadows
Watch for moose as you hike past the pond and through the meadows
John looking for birds on the Auriol Trail
John looking for birds on the Auriol Trail
Walking up to the campsite along a stream bed
Walking up to the campsite alongside a stream bed
Superb mountain views are enjoyed from our lunch spot
Superb mountain views are enjoyed from our lunch spot
There are loads of peaks to bag and lots of territory in the alpine to explore
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 along the Auriol Trail

At the campsite, located just past the 7.3 km 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 km 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 on the Auriol Trail
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 trail
It pays to look back on the descent
It pays to look back on the descent
Looking down at Haines Junction
Looking down at Haines Junction

Where is Kluane National Park?

Kluane National Park is located 160 km west of Whitehorse and 238 km 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
Flowers are everywhere
Flowers are everywhere

For more information visit the Kluane National Park website.

Read full article on Hike Bike Travel

Leigh McAdam, a Calgary-based adventure travel blogger at HikeBikeTravel.com has over 11 years of blogging and social media experience. She is both an award-winning photographer and two-time author with a passion for adventure, nature, and the outdoors. Her books include Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures and the bestseller, 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta co-authored with Debbie Olsen.


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