Spirit Canyon

Distance: 4 km
Elevation Gain: 162 m (531 ft)
Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Region: Whitehorse
Date Added: November 8, 2018
Last Update: November 8, 2018
Winter: snowshoeing 

Just barely viewable from the Alaska Highway north of Whitehorse, Spirit Canyon is a beautiful area to explore. The views on the hike to and from the canyon are beautiful, with the expansive Takhini River Valley below and the Ibex Valley to the southeast and the Sifton Range to the northeast. The canyon itself is a special place with big rock walls which are used by rock climbers.

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Scroll below photos for Driving Directions and Trail Description.


It is easy walking up to the main grassy ridge from the Kluane Wagon Road.

There are great views along the way to the canyon of the Ibex and Takhini River valleys.

As you approach the lower end of the canyon you can climb up a little overlook to the Lower Canyon Viewpoint for your first peek into the canyon.

After following the trail that leads up inside the canyon through the trees, the views will open up into the end of the canyon.

Hang out in the little cave-like shelter at the end of the canyon and enjoy the views and some shade.

Views of the main canyon wall (west wall). There are several rock climbing routes bolted into the rock.

Head up to the Upper Canyon Viewpoint and enjoy another vantage into the canyon and the Takhini River Valley below.

Enjoy the many open views of the area on your way back to your vehicle.

Driving Directions

From Whitehorse at the top of Two Mile Hill, drive 50.8 km north on the Alaska Highway towards Haines Junction. You will see a dirt road off to the right called the Kluane Wagon Road. Take this road for 1.25 km and park on the side of the road. The route starts from the trees on the left (northwest) side of the road. You may need to find alternate parking in the winter and spring to allow other vehicles to pass (likely just off the highway).

There is also a route described from the highway on a rock climbing website, which approaches from the south and west of the canyon. For the route described on our website there is very little bushwhacking, few trees and great views the whole way. It also stays clear of the various private properties and Champagne Aishihik First Nation Settlement Land parcels. As with other routes with no trails, it is always helpful to have a device with GPS capabilities and the track provided here for staying on the route.

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Trail Description

From your parking spot at KM 1.25 of the Kluane Wagon Road, head northwest into the poplar trees for a short bushwhack to a more open grassy area. Keep heading west to reach the lower part of the ridge. It is wide open walking on the side of the south-facing ridge. There are a few animal trails along the way and lots of evidence of elk and horses. Enjoy the views of the Ibex Valley and Takhini River Valley along the way.

Keep contouring along the ridge (mid-way up), barely gaining much elevation. The upper part of the ridge is a bit rockier with ups and downs so staying lower on the ridge provides a more direct route with little elevation gain. Keep heading west to meet the lower end of the canyon, which is 1.5 km from the trailhead. Following this route you should reach the lower canyon viewpoint. To explore inside the canyon, head down to your left (south) to pick up a small trail that then goes north into the canyon. This trail takes you through the trees and up along the west (left) wall of the canyon. It doesn't take long to reach the end of the canyon surrounded by huge rocks walls. There is almost a cave-like shelter where the canyon walls nearly meet at the end. Also in mid-summer there is a surprising variety of berry bushes, including highbush cranberry, currants and raspberry.

After exploring inside the canyon, head back out the way you came and then follow another trail which heads up to the upper canyon viewpoint on the east side of the canyon.

After enjoying the great views from the upper canyon, head back to your vehicle the way you came. You can explore higher on the ridge on your way back if you want a different route. There are many animal trails in the area so be sure to watch for landmarks and keep an eye on your route back to your vehicle.

Comments / Trip Reports

Have you been to Spirit Canyon lately?

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Cali B
December 15, 2019

Easy hike-trail is easy to find and well packed, beautiful views all the way up. Evidence of wolf activity at the canyon, and animal tracks all around. Awesome short hike.
October 19, 2019

Did Spirit Canyon today- marvellous!

To find the trail:

- Drive north on Alaska Highway 50km from Whitehorse
- Turn right at Kluane Wagon Road (has proper sign)
- Ignore several lesser used dirt roads and driveways and stay on Kluane Wagon road, which is the most used road and runs parallel to the AK Hwy back towards Whitehorse
- the parking area is on the left about 1.5km
- Go past old cabin on left with log fence, the next small clearing on the left is the parking area. You can see log fence on the left.
- Someone kindly marked the parking area with orange flagging tape
- The trail heads up and to the left to the canyon

Happy Trails!
Alastair Cook
September 13, 2019

It's a treat to have a trail like this relatively close to Whitehorse,with such fantastic panoramic views along its whole length, as essentially you are walking along ridges, and then to have the canyon at the end.It's not a long hike, so more people are able to do this, children included. Today was a great opportunity to see the fall colours spread out as far as the eye could see along the Ibex Valley and beyond.
This is a little gem of a trail, proving that you don't have to travel for hours to find such places.
Thoroughly recommended.
August 12, 2019

Great little hike/walk, you can pick up and eat raspberries on the trail beside the inside of the canyon. Start of the hike is flagged with orange tape, trail is very obvious the whole way.
Aynslie Ogden
August 10, 2019

This was a lovely, easy after work hike. Easy trail and beautiful views.... Thanks Emmie for putting up the orange flagging! The start of the trail would otherwise have been difficult to find.
Eliza Pahl
August 1, 2019

Hike Spirit Canyon Thursday Aug 1

Actual trail head is 1.8km down the Kluane Wagon Rd.
Pass a small cabin with a red tin roof and old log livestock fencing
You’ll see a clearing on the left, multiple visible orange flagging tape along the trail.

Tara Kapeluch
July 29, 2019

Beautiful trail. Thanks to Emmie (see review below) the trailhead and initial part through the poplars was easy to see. Great rewards for the effort.
Emmie Clements
July 28, 2019

We did this trail today. It took a while to figure out where the trail was as we were too low and the trail was going parallel to us but higher. We eventually saw other people going up and were able to find the trail. On our way back, I put orange forestry tapes every so often for people to be able to find the trail easier from the road. When you turn on the Kluane Wagon Rd, drive a bit past 1.7km and there will be an opening on the left hand side. Park there and you will see the first orange tape. The first 100m or so there is not much of a trail but you should see some tape. I only put enough for people to keep moving forward, so don’t expect to find many... I took a few GPS coordinate as well. The “well defined” trail is at 60.852095•N 135.872676•W. Great little hike!! The cave and canyon are pretty neat. I hope the tapes and GPS coordinate will help...
Sam Rowe
July 16, 2019

Hiked this trail tonight and it is stunning! I had no trouble finding the trail entrance but I used the GPS map on the AllTrails App to find it. It’s not super obvious from the road but you can see where people park and there is a gap in the trees. Once you are clear of the poplars the trail is easy to follow. Beautiful hike close to town!
Juneau Jane
July 14, 2019

Absolutely unable to find anything remotely resembling a trail from the road. Everything looks like private property.
July 14, 2019

I have a few more nice pictures along the trail, if you'd like them let me know.
Marianna Berko
July 14, 2019

We hiked the Spirit Canyon today, it is a very spacial, I'd say a sacred place. The rock formations are big boulders but kind of gritty & porous. It was first time for all 4 of us and we found the trail and way around without any problem. We followed the instructions from this site. There was cell service at some sections on the ridge and we could use the GPS. It was definitely hard to find the trail head but the mention of the tire helped. I sign would be useful. I used the compass on my phone and kept moving forward to west and found the trail. We were lucky with the weather, no rain, even got pretty hot by early afternoon. It's truly a a great hike, easy enough, you can explore around, really neat rocks to take fun pictures.
Yukon Hiking
July 7, 2019

Note, there is no obvious trailhead or trail for the first part of the route. Use your odometer to park and enter forest 1.25 km down Kluane Wagon Road (as indicated in the Driving Directions) or download the GPS data from the site. As others have indicated there is an old tire nearby as well as potentially some other markings, left by others.
July 6, 2019

Spent 1 hour trying to find the entry point... all looked like private property and there were alot of agressive sounding dogs at one point so we didn't feel like we could go any further. If someone could post a picture of where they parked and the entry point that would be super helpful. Thanks :)
June 29, 2019

Was unable to find entry point along road way.
Riley Fitzsimmons
June 20, 2019

A nice beautiful easy trail. There isn't much of a worn trail for most of the way so a GPS is helpful (I use the Canada Maps app and import the gpx file). The trailhead isn't really marked but there's a tire in the ditch maybe 50m before we parked and went into the bush near the X left by Annie. On the way back head towards the power pole with some sort of metal frame near the top and you'll end up near where you started.
Annie Cloutier
May 24, 2019

Hiked it today, beautiful and easy, even with a baby on my back! We lost a bit the trail on our way back, but the forest is not thick and it was easy to find the road. The trailhead is not super clear, you do have to kinda guess the trail for the first 100 meters, then it becomes obvious. Here's a picture of where we parked and started the hike. I've added a X with 2 branches afterwards. Enjoy, it's worth it!
Nicolas L
March 17, 2019

Just arrived from there (march 17th). Some snow in the beginning for the tree part and half bare in the slopes. A little slippery.
Yukon Hiking
February 27, 2019

Yes we have done it in late December. If you're lucky someone else will have broken trail for you.
February 27, 2019

Is this trail do-able in winter? It seems like it's all South-facing, so might not be too much snow. Thanks!