Are you into history and/or walking? Maybe you prefer history and exploring beautiful places, but not walking? Either way, I’ve got you covered.
If you’ve never been, Canyon City is a must. Nestled within Whitehorse city limits, this ghost town is not only a beautiful place to explore, but also a Yukon Heritage Site. The once populous Canyon City grew out of the danger presented by the Whitehorse rapids. Gold rushers had to stop over and plot surviving the next step on their way to the gold fields. Though the town boasted a hotel, saloon, stables and more, no buildings remain, but you can still tell the general layout of the town from the shape of the earth that’s been dug up and moved around.
How to get there? The options are endless. I like parking on the Chadburn side of the canyon, as the parking lot is far less packed than the main Miles Canyon parking area. To get to this trailhead from downtown, drive into Riverdale. When you come to the traffic circle by Super A, exit right onto Nisutlin Drive and follow the road until you can see the fish ladder. Just before the fish ladder building, turn left onto Chadburn Lake Road and follow it past the Schwatka Lake day use area. Past that, you will find a dirt parking lot on your right with a large trailhead sign.
As seen on the trailhead map, the cross country ski trails loop all around the area. This can look a little confusing, but they are wide, easy-to-follow trails that are fairly well marked by coloured signs on the trees. There are side trails, but they are far less developed. If you are nervous about getting lost, stick to the wider ski trails and you’ll be just fine. If you’ve never been to the area before, take a picture of the map before you head into the woods. This will ensure you always have an idea of where you are.
I followed the red skiing sasquatch-looking signs until I hit the Upper Canyon trail on the water’s edge. This trail is a fairly direct route to the historic site and, while in the forest, it stays close to the road for the most part. When you come out of the forested trail approaching the river, turn left on the Upper Canyon trail. When you get to this point you’re almost at Canyon City. Follow the trail along the water for a few more minutes until you reach a signpost welcoming you to the Canyon City Townsite.
For a longer, more scenic route, start out on red ski trail from the parking area, then take your first opportunity to jump on the yellow trail to your right. This path will meander towards the Miles Canyon suspension bridge. From there, you can choose either the Upper or Lower Canyon trails to make your way to the city.
Don’t feel like hiking, but still want to check out Canyon City? No problem. About two kilometres down the trailhead parking along Chadburn Lake Road is a small pullout. There is a rod with a red tip sticking out of the ground, which I used as a trail marker, though a nearby green porta-potty is easier to spot. There isn’t much room for parking here, but a couple cars will fit on the side of the road. Follow the trail in front of you down a semi-steep path. A few minutes later, as you approach the river, look to your right to see Canyon City.