Gold! Headlines read in 1897, starting the rush. Thousands, hoping to ease the woes of economic depression, sold farms, dropped businesses and boarded ships to follow their dreams north. They braved icy passes to reach the interior of Canada, only to find the gold claims staked by prospectors who preceded them. A few struck gold; many more returned home penniless, yet richer for the adventure.
The Chilkoot Trail is one of two main routes to the Klondike that originate in this area. Long before the gold rush, the trail was established by Tlingit people as a trade route into the interior of Canada. Fish, seal oil and seaweed were traded with the First Nations peoples for moose and caribou hides, plant materials and other goods unavailable on the coast.
The most challenging way to follow in the footsteps of the stampeders and natives is by hiking the 33-mile-long Chilkoot Trail, accessible only on foot. It is a difficult hike and usually takes three to five days. The trail begins at the Taiya River bridge near the Dyea townsite and travels over the Chilkoot Pass to Lake Bennett.