Cycling the Golden Circle
What to bring: Waist bag for water and food & blindfold to sleep in the bright night!
Best Season: Summer (June – August) when the warmth makes the arctic nearly habitable.
Top Sights: Vast arctic ice capped desert and nomadic wildlife.
Watch out for: Hungry grizzly bears.
Learn about the Chilkat Nation and witness a traditional dance.
Travelling around the eastern side of Kluane National Park on dirt roads with a great view of Mt. Logan, Canada’s highest peak at over 19000 feet.
Camping on the banks of Lake Kathleen
Panning for gold in the Yukon – goldrush territory
South-eastern Alaska, a land of glaciers, rivers, lakes and spectacular mountain scenery, was also the starting place for fortune hunters who started the Klondike Gold rusha century ago. The Golden Circle is part of a series of highways that run from the south-eastern finger of Alaska into the Yukon, in Canada, and back into Alaska again. This is a fantastic trip for those with good stamina and a desire to see the more remote areas of south-eastern Alaska and the Yukon by bike.
The Haines to Skagway Golden Circle ride starts in the small town of Haines. Bradley Cooper rides through the Chilkat Valley to the Bald Eagle Preserve, across the US-Canadian border into the Yukon territory, where he camps out at the Tatshenshini/Alsek Provincial Park by the banks of the Klehini River. Continuing up the Haines Highway, Bradley goes over the Chilkat Pass, above the tree line, and through Kluane National Park.At Haines Junction he switches direction and heads east on the Alaska or Alcan Highway.The next day he cuts back and forth across the Yukon river and its tributaries through the city of Whitehorse down the Klondike Highway to the mountainous town of Carcross. After panning for gold with a real gold prospector, Bradley cycles back across the border for an exhilarating ride down the historic White Pass to the coastal gold rush boom town of Skagway, Alaska, where he shares a beer with the folks at the Red Onion Saloon.
When you’re on a biking trek it’s a good idea to carry a small waistpack to keep our essential items like water bottles, energy bars, sunscreen, and tire patch kit. Also, a good compact air pump or compressed CO2 cartridge is essential in case of a flat tire.
Due to the prolonged daylight in Alaska & the Yukon, a sleeping blindfold may help, as the sun never really sets this time of year.
You should have a rope handy to raise anything edible, including toothpaste, into a tall tree so the bears don’t come for it. Keep a good sharp knife with you and a source of fire.
When you’re panning for gold, the only piece of equipment that is absolutely essential is a gravity-trap pan, one that measures 10 to 20 inches in diameter and can be bought in any good hardware store in Alaska. Rubber boots and gloves will help protect your feet and hands from icy water. You’ll also need a garden trowel to dig up loose rock, a pair of tweezers to pick up gold flakes, and a small bottle to hold your find.
Did you know?
The ride from Haines to Skagway is called the Golden Circle Tour because it follows the historic Dalton Trail and White Pass gold rush routes to the Klondike. Jack Dalton was one of the first entrepreneurs to turn an old Clinkit Indian trade route into a toll road for which he charged miners $2.00 per head of cattle to gain access. He succeeded until the Yukon railroad put him out of business in 1900.
When gold was discovered in the Yukon in 1896, thousands of fortune hunters came here. Most of them landed in Skagway and battled north through the harsh wilderness over passes and tracks that led to Whitehorse, on the banks of the Yukon River. From here, the River took them hundreds of miles deeper towards their dreams of gold.
Created in 1982, the 48,000-acre Bald Eagle preserve protects the habitat where the world’s largest concentration Great-American Bald Eagles congregate. The eagle’s presence helps to maintain the Salmon run that occurs twice a year.
The Golden Circle cycle trip takes you through four parks that together total 28 million acres. They’re all connected, creating corridors for bears, dall sheep and deer to wander freely.
The Alcan Highway is one of the major engineering feats of the 20th century. It was built during World War II by thousands of US and Canadian soldiers, including Native Alaskans, in order to increase the allied forces’ power in the far north. Stretching for 2450 km from Dawson Creek in BC to Fairbanks in Alaska, it took under 8 months to complete. Over the last 50 the highway has had several different names, including ‘0il Can Highway’ and ‘The Road to Tokyo’. It’s now known simply as ‘Alcan’, which is short for Alaska-Canadian.
FURTHER INFORMATION The Pilot Productions team cycled the Golden Circle with:
Sockeye Cycle Company
P.O. Box 829
24 Portage Drive
Tel/Fax: (907) 766 2869
Skagway office: tel/fax: (907) 983 2851
Email: :cycleak *at* cyclealaska.net
You can find out more about the Chilkat Nation by contacting:
Alaska Indian Arts
PO Box 271
Hist. Building No. 13
Fort Seward Drive
Accommodation in Haines
Mountain View Motel
Tel: (907) – 766 2900
Fax: (907)-766 2901
Tel: (907) 766-2000
PO Box 2703
Canada Y1A 2C6
Tel: (867) 667 5340 or (867) 667 3546
Haines Visitors Bureau
Tel: (800) 458 3579
Or (907) 766 2234
For more information about state parks in the area:
Alaska Division of State Parks
Tel: (907) 766 2292
For information on the Chilkoot Trail:
National Park Service Visitor Center in Skagway
(907) 983 2921