Region: Sheep Mountain – Kluane National Park of Canada, Yukon, Canada
Return Trip: 10km (6 mi), 3-6 hours
Trailhead Location: Near the parking area at the base of Sheep Mountain.
Elevation Gain: 427m (1400′)
Skill Level: Moderate
Hazards: Grizzly bears, moose, dust/debris, narrow trail on cliff side, high winds
The second hike my wife and I completed while in the Yukon was along the Sheep Creek Trail.
Sheep Mountain sits just across the Alaska Highway from Kluane Lake; the largest lake in the Yukon. It gets its name from the Dall Sheep that call the mountain their home.
Before starting up the trail, we stopped off at the Tachal Dhal Visitor Center. They had some telescopes set up facing the mountain, which the Parks Canada attendant had pointed at a group of sheep grazing for their breakfast.
After spotting the sheep and checking out the visitor center, we got back in the car and drove up the 2km pothole-infested dirt road to the trailhead. They warn people in smaller cars and RVs to hike up this road, since the potholes can get a little deep (roughly 2 feet deep in spots). As is the way of the Yukon, things tend to be a little bit bigger and a lot more wild; potholes are no exception.
The Sheep Creek Trail sees a lot more foot traffic than our newly conquered trail; King’s Throne. This means that bears are less of a danger, but caution is still the best practice. With our bear bells, bear mace and trusty mosquito head nets ready to go, we started up the trail.
The good news was that the majority of the trail turned out to be wide enough for two people to hike side by side comfortably. It was also windy enough to keep the mosquitoes off us for a lot of the hike, even at the lower elevations. The not so good news? It is an unrelenting, uphill hike. Sure, there are a couple spots that level out for a few meters, but they really don’t last long at all. That’s just part of the fun though.
There were definitely some great views along the trek up. It was a nice clear and sunny day, with only a few clouds in the sky. We could follow Slim’s River as it meandered down all the way from the far off mountain range. Sidenote: That would be an excellent canoe trip.
We made it up to the 5km lookout point, where the wind was extremely strong. So strong, in fact, that it might have been the cause of the fallen 5km point trail marker. After battling the high winds and pushing forward through a creeping fatigue courtesy of the hike up, we were treated to an intensely amazing view of the Yukon wilderness as far as the eye could see. It was definitely worth the effort to get to this ridge.
Being as windy as it was, we didn’t end up staying for very long here at the lookout. We started back down the trail to get out of the high winds.
The Kluane Lake region was experiencing a bit of a drought during our time there. This caused a good portion of the Sheep Creek Trail to be exceptionally dusty. The hike wasn’t so bad on the way up, but on the way down, we seemed to be engulfed in small dust clouds for most of the way.
A little exhausted and very satisfied, we made it back to the car and jumped in after shaking off a couple stubborn mosquitoes that were still latched on to our clothes in a last ditch effort at a meal. Thank you Yukon, you definitely did not disappoint. Another memorable hike in the books.
Thanks again to my wife for helping out with some great shots along the trail. 🙂
Copyright © 2015, Ben Aerssen. All rights reserved.