The Auriol Trail is close to Haines Junction and is a popular day and overnight hike. The actual trail itself does not go above tree level, but an extended hike from the trail into the alpine is highly recommended. Add 5 km and 430 m elevation gain if you hike into the alpine.
From Haines Junction, drive towards Haines, Alaska for about 5 km. There will be a sign indicating the Auriol Trail turnoff is 2 km away. Park in the pull-out. There is a sign at the pull-out with a map of the trail.
The trail starts by crossing a small clearing and then stays in the trees for the most part. It is well-used and hard to miss.
The trail climbs gently through a mix of poplar, spruce, and pine forest. You will reach a junction in the trail after 2 km. Both trails lead to the campground, with the left fork taking a more gradual route, while the right fork is 500 m shorter but with more ups and downs. We typically suggest taking the left fork and then making a loop and returning via the other fork. If you take the left fork, after a while the trail will pass by a small lake and meet up with Auriol Creek.
After about 7.5 km, or halfway, there is a small campsite with 4 tent pads, a fire pit, an outhouse, and a place to hang your food (out of the reach of bears). Auriol Creek runs right by the campground, so there is plenty of water.
If you are not planning on exploring into the alpine, then continue on the trail to complete the loop. Once again you will pass through a nice mix of forests on the way back to the trailhead.
If you are going to head into the alpine for an extended hike (add 5 km distance and 430 m elevation gain), from the campground continue 500 m west on the trail until you come to a bridge. This is the best point to head southwest towards the mountains and the alpine. Follow the small creek, crossing it ever so often in order to pick your way up towards the Auriol bowl. You will have to climb one of the steep moraines that run by the creek. Pick the one with the least amount of brush on its top.
From the top of the moraines, you can easily hike towards the bowl. There is a beautiful teal-coloured alpine lake at the base of the bowl. Be careful not to get too close to the lake, as the rock covered ice around it is highly volatile and ever-crumbling into the lake. After you've explored the alpine, make your way back to the bridge and continue to follow the trail as it makes a loop.
Auriol Trail is a four season trail and you can ski, walk, or snowshoe it. The trail is often groomed for skiing on the clockwise (left) section of the loop up to about 4.5 km (9 km round trip).Note: Overnight trips in Kluane National Park and Reserve require registration and approved bear resistant food canisters. Please visit the Park's website for details.