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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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.


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Comments / Trip Reports

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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!