”There’s gold on them thar hills!”
That’s not a typo — the gold isn’t only in the hills these days, and you can also discover copper, ruby and a bit of emerald in full view.
Summer has signed off with a beautiful autumn this year. Poplars and aspens are glowing gold. Fireweed, wild rose and dwarf birch are displaying their range of reds. Willows are undecided, half-green and half-yellow, sitting between seasons. It’s a terrific time to be out enjoying the natural beauty and clean air of the Yukon.
There are numerous easily accessible walking trails in the Whitehorse area. Whether you have half an hour or a full day, tie on your walking shoes, fill your water bottle, and grab a light jacket on the way out the door.
A popular downtown walk is the Millennium Trail, and an easy starting point is Rotary Peace Park. The trail is a wide, smooth, 5-km loop that brings you back where you started. Keeping the river on your left, you’ll pass the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site, cross the Yukon River by footbridge and arrive at the halfway point next to the Fish Ladder. Then you turn back towards town, following the river along its opposite shore.
If you have a bit more time and energy, add on to the Millennium Trail by covering a bit of distance along the Chadburn Lake Road, which begins across from the Fish Ladder.
If you are looking for an expansive viewpoint with a bit of height, try Grey Mountain Road. The access is from Alsek Road in Riverdale. Grey Mountain Road takes you slowly but surely upward; the grade is not overly steep.
There are two viewpoints looking back over Whitehorse; the first is about 5 km along the road, the second about 10 km farther. Catch beautiful views of Schwatka Lake, nearby mountains and the Yukon River. There is also the option of driving to one of the viewpoints and exploring from there.
The Miles Canyon area at the south end of town is fantastic for day hikes, with trails alongside the rushing waters of the Yukon River. Take a break at Canyon City. And of course there’s the fun of standing in the centre of the suspension bridge watching the river hurrying along under your feet. There’s also a beautiful viewpoint of the canyon from the pullout along Miles Canyon Road.
Just north of downtown, turn off the Alaska Highway at Fish Lake Road. You can drive all the way to Fish Lake at the end of the road or explore one of its spin-offs, Haeckel Hill or the Copper Haul Road. Haeckel Hill boasts great views of Whitehorse and the surrounding area all the way to the Coastal Mountains. You can also get a close-up look at those fascinating wind turbines.
Once you’re out there wandering around and exploring, you’re bound to find some favourite trails of your own that you’ll want to return to and get to know in all seasons.
Take along a friend, your dog or your friend’s dog. Sign up for a fundraiser walk. Check out the events listings in the local papers for organized day hikes. Start a walking club with friends or workmates.
In fact, I’m going to stop typing and go for a walk right now. I’ll be taking along an empty container and heading out to this great cranberry patch I discovered last week.