Total Distance: 4 km
Return Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 162 m
Traditional Territory: CAFN, KDFN
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.
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. This is about 8 km after the Takhini River bridge. Take the Kluane Wagon Road for 1.7 km and park in a pullout on the left. There is flagging and a well-worn trail that leads from the parking area.
A note on parking: At this time, it is advised to park at the large area just off the highway and to walk the additional 20 minutes to the trailhead. Add 40-60 minutes to your round trip. There are 'NO PARKING' signs that have appeared at the original trailhead parking and along the sides of the Kluane Wagon Road. This is because there have been issues with hikers parking their vehicles in places that block the road for residents that live past the trailhead. There is not enough room for two vehicles to pass each other on this road, especially not in the snowy season.
From your parking spot at KM 1.7 of the Kluane Wagon Road, follow the trail that heads west into the forest. The trail heads gradually uphill and along the side of the ridge. There are some huge boulders to marvel at along the way. It doesn't take long until you get some views of the Ibex and Takhini River valleys. Also watch for evidence of elk along the way.
This trail will take you all the way to the top of the canyon, an excellent place to hang out and enjoy the dramatic rock walls of the canyon. After enjoying the views from the upper canyon, follow a trail that heads down along the edge of the canyon. There is a nice lower viewpoint looking up into the canyon that is worth a look. Near the end of the canyon, look for a lighter trail that heads down into the canyon to your right. This trail takes you through the trees and up along the west (left) wall of the canyon.
It's a short walk to 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 follow the same trail up to meet the main trail up near the upper canyon.
Linda lavoie September 10, 2023
My son and a few friends are hiking the canyon today for the first time!
B August 11, 2023
The area across trailhead is public land, I have a vehicle equipped to drive into the small ditch. Instead of walking 20 mins down a public road, I will gladly park in the ditch and start packing a new parking area. I live off long lake road and people fly by all the time, but that's life. There should be public parking like other busy areas. If not, find space and share the road. Ever see long lake on a hot weekend? Not the end of the world.
Sammantha July 5, 2023
Great hike for beginners. We had minor difficulty finding the trailhead, so I’ve attached a photo. We parked at the parking lot next to the highway and did the 20 minute walk, but others had parked just outside the trailhead at the roadside.
Amber February 27, 2023
Snowshoed this February 26th. We broke trail. Import to note that the parking area near the trailhead is now closed, and you have to walk from the lot near the highway. This adds quite a bit of distance to the hike.
Kevin Rozon June 7, 2022
Super easy hike that is short and offers spectacular views.
We enjoyed a nice snack at the top of the canyon and soaked in some sun!
Lauren July 12, 2021
Hiked this on July 11th. Lovely day- went to the parking lot with the marked trail. Very easy to find. When we left we saw lots of cars on the road which is advised against so be aware of NOT parking on the road. Some areas were very dusty and slanted, but overall a great hike! The view is stunning.
Rachel June 26, 2021
Great short hike, but beware of the ditch someone has dug between the Kluane wagon road and the trailhead parking area, as smaller vehicles will bottom out there. Also beware of residents driving on the road, as it’s single lane and they may be grumpy. It would be wonderful to see some sort of official designation for the trail and canyon, as it’s a beautiful and popular hike.
Marianna Betko February 7, 2021
A group of us hiked the Spirit Canyon on Feb 06, 2021. The trail head was well cleared and easy to find. The 1st half of the hike was well packed but then we had to break the trail in some sections. Going down to the canyon there was sections of deep snow but nothing serious to warrant for snow shoes. The sunset was gorgeous in the canyon, well worth the extra effort. Conditions are great despite the amount of snow we had.
Marjan October 26, 2020
Is there any group hiking? I really keen on doing hiking in youkon. But I have no idea how. I qas wondering if there is any hiking group in meetup or such those ?
Yukon Hiking October 25, 2020
Thanks for your comments everyone. We have updated the route to begin at the 1.7 km parking area.
Shazza August 5, 2020
Ran into a momma grizzly bear and cub near the parking lot on our way back. Even though we were ~20m away from her she wandered away into the bush and paid no attention to us. My 15 year old son and I walked the last couple minutes to the car, hearts a racing!
Jen Smith May 18, 2020
Had a great time walking this trail today. We were lucky to get the tip from a fellow hiker that about .25km further down the road there is a blaze-taped trail which saves the trouble of bushwhacking through the poplar trees (and also saves wild forest from hikers trampling through). Similar info is listed here by Tara (Oct 2019). Happy hiking!
Lake May 18, 2020
I finally got up to Spirit Canyon yesterday. The parking and trailhead is 1.7 km from the highway. Lots of room to pull over and park. The tire that some people mention is The trail still has0.4 km from the parking area. There is still some orange taping at the entrance and in the absence of snow, there is no way to get lost. The trail is well worn and easy to follow. I wouldn't call the trail flat as it moves up the hill on a gentle, yet persistent incline. A nice easy trip up to the canyon. Lots of Elk or Deer droppings but no animals seen except for plenty of birds.
Camila G May 17, 2020
UPDATE!!!!! This is not the trail head and if you are a beginner hiker or a bit out of shape, this bio will take you on a goose chase. You need to continue down the main road past the abandoned cabin another 100 meters where you will see the trail clearly marked with orange flagging on the left hand side. This is just out of date and now there is a perfect trail that takes you straight in and out of the canyon!!!
Em May 13, 2020
So this is a great little trail but we were confronted by a very cranky farmer on the way back who was insistent that it is a private road we drove in on. We'll be calling the RCMP to figure out whether or not it really is a road we should stay off and updating here.
Brian Smart May 3, 2020
Leisurely hike with some great views. Easy to find: Pretty close to 52km from 2 Mile Hill and Alaska Highway to the Kluane Wagon road...and as folks have helped with below...1.5km down that road to the trailhead on the left side. Currently looks like small cabin under construction with wooden fence around.
Annika May 2, 2020
I just want to remind everyone to please park in the parking lot at the beginning of the road and walk the 1,5 km to the trailhead! It is a privately maintained road. There is no parking at the trailhead ( maybe for 2 vehicles). Last weekend we counted 25 vehicles in the parking lot.
Alastair Cook May 2, 2020
Friday May 1st was a great day to be on this trail. A lot of other people thought so too. With the Covid situation in full swing and the associated social measures, going for a hike is a great antidote. I went with our small family group and a dog for good measure, and really have to recommend this as one of the best short local hikes possible. The views are epic at all points, and the canyon itself is a real treat.
One word of caution. A sign has been posted on the road leading to the trail, indicating it's private. I really don't think it is. As a result, a few cars were parked before the sign,just as you turn off the highway. My little group and I walked dutifully down the 1.5km approx to where the trail began. There were quite a few cars parked down there, as is the norm. Oh well....
Great day out though.
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.
Tara 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
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.
Kyle 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.
Marianna 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.
Holly 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 :)
Bryce 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.
A 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!