Hiking and Mountain Biking in Tatshenshini-Alsek ParkThere are a few of old mining roads in the park that can be hiked or mountain biked. Motorized access is not permitted with the exception of the local Champagne and Aishihik First Nation who have the right to hunt and harvest by modern means of transportation. It should be noted that these are hiking and mountain biking routes rather than maintained trails and that difficult conditions may be encountered. If you are planning to hike or mountain bike, it is important to remember that weather conditions in the summer are highly variable. Although clear skies and sunshine are common, it can snow any day. High winds are frequent and there are often spells of cold, wet weather.
Brief route descriptions:Parton River: This abandoned access road/horse trail is located roughly 112 kilometres south of Haines Junction on the Haines Highway, just past Stanley Creek. From here take the gravel road that turns off the highway toward the Tatshenshini River. It is recommended that visitors obtain the correct 1:50,000 scale maps for this trip (# 114 P/10 - Nadahini Creek, # 114 P/11 - Carmine Mountain and # 114 P/15 - Parton River). Park your vehicle at the Tatshenshini River to begin your journey. This abandoned access road/horse trail is unmaintained and there is no signage at the start of the hike/bike or anywhere along it.
The Parton River trail leading to Shinny Lakes and the northern reaches of the O’Conner River begins with crossing the Tatshenshini River and then the Parton River. The hiking is good until the first obstacle - a rock slide area. This begins at UTM coordinates 397020 E / 6639350 N to 396906 E / 6639287 N. This also continues up until 396822 E / 6639150 N. The rock slide area has two more obstacles at UTM coordinates 396635 E / 6638929 N and 396549 E / 6638102 N. The second obstacle is known for clogging up mountain bike tires. The third obstacle has two slides that completely cover the road.
After the third obstacle you cross a prominent gully, and then the hiking becomes better as it follows an old mining road. At the next creek encountered it is very easy to lose the trail and end up bushwhacking through a muskeg. Pay attention after passing the “old wagon” staying to the right fork away from the Parton River, this will keep you on track. The hiking is good up to the old cabin by the junction in the road. The junction is at UTM coordinates 393884 E / 6631715 N.
Going northwest will put you on the Shinny Lakes trail, which has spectacular scenery throughout. The trail has good hiking following the old mining road and horse trail. Mountain biking is not recommended past the first lake, as the trail is very narrow and soft. This lake is suitable for swimming because it has little vegetation and a gravely beach at the east end. At this point the trail becomes a narrow horse trail.
Back at the junction, going East across the creek will put you on the O’Conner Trail, roughly about 16 kilometres, to an old airstrip. There is a steep climb for about three kilometres (2 miles). Then it slopes off to the first and only obstacle - a serious rockslide. This begins at UTM coordinates 394849 E / 6630935 N to 394855 E / 6630880 N which covers the whole road completely. This slide has a treacherous detour below and above it. Use extreme caution when hiking around or over it. After the obstacle there is another steep climb and then the trail levels off. The trail follows along the valley below, which provides spectacular scenery. The trail leads down into the valley and through to the old airstrip.
Squaw Range: Access to the Squaw Range begins the same as the Parton River description listed above. When you reach the west side of the valley, take the right hand fork, following an old mining road up Goldrun Creek. This road climbs steeply, traversing the range and ending near Talbot Creek. To continue this traverse one must route find their way across the Talbot Creek watershed to meet up with the south end of old Squaw Creek mining road. This old road will take you in a northwesterly direction, following Squaw Creek down to the British Columbia / Yukon border and out of the park.
Along the way, visitors may notice signs of historic placer mining activities. It is recommended that visitors obtain the correct 1:50,000 scale map for this trip (# 114 P/10 - Nadahini Creek).
Chuck Creek: This trail is located roughly 141 kilometres south of Haines Junction on the Haines Highway. This trail is great for both hiking and mountain biking. It is recommended that visitors obtain the correct 1:50,000 scale map for this trip (# 114 P/10 - Nadahini Creek). Park your vehicle at the newly established pullout.
The Chuck Creek trail starts in a wide, open sub-alpine valley, with mountainous vistas in all directions. There are several large ditches where road culverts use to be. If you are enjoying this trail by mountain bike you should stick to the main trail at all times to avoid damaging the surrounding vegetation.
After roughly three kilometres, Mineral Lakes will come into view to your left. If you decide to continue further along this trail you will come across Chuck Creek. At this location a shallow water crossing is required, so you may wish to have additional footwear such as sandals with you. The rocks on the bottom of the creek are slippery and sometimes sharp, so be careful when crossing.
At approximately seven kilometre point into this trip, the trail drops down to Clear Creek where another shallow water crossing is required. At this location the Samuel Glacier will be greeting you with its spectacular scenery. The trail becomes very indistinct from here as it continues to a large gravel outwash. From here the trail becomes a route and continues on for several more kilometres heading down hill. If you don’t wish to enjoy an uphill return trip, it may be a good time to turn around.
This hike or mountain bike ride is best to do during fair weather, as trail conditions can be rather soggy during periods of rainy weather. As well, the fine mud encountered during wet conditions can severely clog up your mountain bike wheels.
Copper Butte: This abandoned access road is located roughly 160 kilometres south of Haines Junction on the Haines Highway - approximately 4 kilometres past Three Guardsmen Lake. Park your vehicle at Seltat pull off where your hike begins by walking down the old Haines Road. This abandoned access road is unmaintained and there is no signage at the start of the hike/bike or anywhere along it.
You walk roughly 2.5 kilometres down the old Haines Road until you come to Schulz Creek, which will be the second creek you encounter. From here you stay right and begin a moderately strenuous hike through the Alder for about 100m until it opens up to the old Copper Butte mining road.
From the Copper Butte mining road you can follow the road which leads you right to the old mines. It is a very scenic route that contains many visible remains left behind from past mining activities. Once you reach the first plateau the terrain opens up. You will be greeted with mountainous vistas and get a bird’s eye view of Inspector Creek.
The mine on the East facing slope is unstable and in rough shape and should not be entered for it could be hazardous. Because the weather is so unpredictable you should carry a jacket and rain gear with you. You should also bring water and something to eat. But most importantly enjoy the hike.
Caution: Do not attempt to enter any mineshaft. They can be very unstable and dangerous!
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