Hiking the Sam McGee Trail in Carcross, Yukon

Elevation2,050 m
Elevation Gain1,426 m
Distance19 km
TypeOut & Back
Sam McGee Trail Stats
Silver mining artifacts along the trail

The Sam McGee trail is arguably one of the busiest trails in the Carcross region in the southwest corner of the Yukon. It is full of history and historical artifacts are still there all along the trail. The trail follows along the tramway built for silver mining in 1905.

There is also a high possibility of spotting wildlife on this hike – mountain goats, sheep and bears (both grizzlies and black). We had seen a sheep and a couple of mountain goats the first time we hiked in October 2019.

This tramway was built in 1905 for mining silver

The trail head is located opposite to the Conrad campground, on the other side of the road (on your right if you are driving from Whitehorse). There is ample parking space at this campground.

The trail begins with a gentle walk in the dense forest which gradually begins to get steep after ~1 km. After hiking for around an hour, you’ll reach high enough with occasional view points at the Tagish Lake below. From here onwards, the trees start to become scattered and berry plants (moss, blue, cran) begin to appear. Depending on the time of the year, you would find enough berries to substitute for a snack.

Jaw dropping view points

Soon enough, you will be in the alpine section and it is ridiculously windy here, any time of the day. When I say ridiculous, I really mean it!! Even during peak summer, a layered clothing system may be needed for hiking further up.

Very soon, you will see the trail forking in two paths – on the left is the small rocky peak where you will get expansive 360 degree views (we hiked this trail – it is also a part of the Mountain Hero trail) and on the right the Sam McGee trail goes further up adding another 4 km to the high point on the ridge.

The shorter, left fork will take you to the highest point of the Mountain Hero trail. There is a marker at the highest point and from the peak, you’ll get panoramic views of the windy arm down below and snow capped mountains towards the south. The last section of the trail, up to the rocky peak, has some steep sections and loose rocks to scramble.

The highest point on the Mountain Hero Trail

Total hike is approximately 12 km, and is considered difficult with about 1000 m of elevation gain. But, the views are worth it!!

Once you are satisfied and have loaded your camera with hundreds of pictures, begin descending back the same way you came up. Climbing down is the hardest part, especially on your knees. Bring a hiking pole with you on this hike, your knees will appreciate it after what feels like a long walk down.

Snow capped mountains in the south, visible from the top
Views in Summer months
Views in Fall season
Can’t get enough of these views…
The Fall season is the best period to hike Sam McGees for the gorgeous colors on display
More artifacts… Wonder how they built this tramway up here in the early 1900s
An explosion of colors during Autumn on Sam McGee Hike
Fall is the best time of the year for color pop photography
Descending the trail with stunning views
Ecstatic on reaching the top!!

More Pictures (From the hike in the Fall season – September 2020)

Wild barren land
Summit marker
Bright colors on display
Tis’ the season when every leaf turns into a flower…walking through a paradise
Hiking crew!

Driving Directions

The Sam McGee trail is near Carcross, about 90 km from Whitehorse.

Get onto the Alaska Hwy and drive south for about 14 km then turn right on Klondike Hwy. Continue on Klondike Hwy for another 40 km and you will pass Emerald Lake on your right. There is a look out point to take pictures of the emerald blue color lake. After driving for another 10 mins, you will pass Carcross Desert (North America’s smallest desert) on your right. Continuing further, you’ll pass a small town of Carcross. Continue on Klondike Hwy for another 17 km and you’ll see the Conrad Campground on your left. There is ample parking space at this campground and the trailhead is on the opposite side of the campground as shown in the picture below.

Sam McGee trailhead

For more things to do in Carcross, check out my post on the Carcross desert by clicking here.

Have you hiked the Sam McGee trail? Share your feedback & pictures in the comments section below.

2 responses to “Hiking the Sam McGee Trail in Carcross, Yukon”

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