Tombstones Territorial Park, Yukon
Dawson City, Yukon, exploded into the world in the late 1890s when gold was discovered in the tributaries of the Klondike. The town was erected overnight to support the thousands of gold-hungry stampeders coming to strike it rich. Those days may be long gone, but today tourists still f lock to Dawson to re-live the Gold Rush and celebrate the pioneer spirit. For those seeking an outdoor adventure there is the Tombstones Territorial Park – regarded as the “Patagonia of the North.” The Tombstones is more than 2,000 square kilometres of isolated wilderness, ranging from the jagged Ogilvie Mountains to the Blackstone Plateau. While the park remains fairly remote, there are a number of beautiful trails, none of which is more spectacular than the Grizzly Lake Trail.
As with most trails in the Yukon, Grizzly Lake Trail is more rugged and technical than your average run. This out-and-back is arguably the most scenic trail in the Yukon and offers a healthy mix of single-track climbing and rolling hills. The trail begins with a brief jaunt through boreal forest , which breaks into alpine brush as you zig-zag up to Grizzly Ridge. From the ridge, you’re greeted with an impressive vista of Mt. Monolith and Grizzly Lake at the end of the valley. The panoramic views continue to get better as you slog up the ridge to the highest point of the trail. Once at the summit, the undulating trail skips along, ducking into alpine meadows and traversing across rock scree to a chorus of whistling marmots and pikas.
The trail ends at Grizzly Lake and the small backcountry campground. If weather permits, the lake is a great place to take a dip and soak in the views. The campground offers outhouses and two small canvas shelters.
For those eager to dive deeper into the backcountry, there are two additional trails to explore. One climbs up to Twin Lakes, and the other climbs over Glissade Pass and snakes down to Divide and Talus Lakes.
The return route is as spectacular as the way in. Just make sure not to get too distracted by the views and keep your eyes on the trail. The elevation gain is deceivingly similar as the way in, but once you’ve reached the ridge summit, you’ll rip down to the forest and parking lot. Finish the day by relaxing at the Tombstones Campground or head back to Dawson to try the infamous sourtoe cocktail.