Some favorite walks

Some of these are from YCS's Take a Walk! writing competition. Congratulations Jan on the winning entry! It's such a good idea that I hope to keep adding to the page.

Out my Riverdale door

My favourite walk in Whitehorse is out the door of my Riverdale home. I go along the powerline to the bottom of "PeeWee" hill and then up into the hills. I have been walking those hills for 35 years. Those walks and those hills have got me through the early days of adjusting to living in the Yukon, the challenges of raising three kids, visits from in-laws, letting off steam after work, and the death of my beloved husband. They are the place I go when I am happy, sad, angry, relaxed, frustrated, energetic, exhausted, when I need to work things out in my head and my heart and when I just want to breathe fresh air on a sparkling blue and gold September day. Or when I want to get above the ice fog in January. Or when I want to see if there are deer in the meadows in the spring. Well, and also when I also want to pick cranberries. They are the place I make new friendships and deepen long-standing ones. The walks started when I was a complete cheechako and was scared to go too far without leaving a trail of breadcrumbs so I could find my way back. And they continue today, when I am still discovering new trails, in the Riverdale hills and in my life.

- Jan Horton

Clay cliffs

This is a hard one for many reasons….There are sooo many places to walk and hike around Whitehorse…but if I had to narrow it down I would say the cliffs along downtown because you can look over the city and see life carry on, there’s the colourful yet eerie crematorium, the killer Black street stairs, the view of majestic mountains that line our valley, you can watch planes land and take off-what a rush!

The list goes on and on as to why that would be my favourite walking trail…its also a great biking trail ;)

- Jessica Garstin

Yukon River Trail

I like a challenge and a reward, and the Yukon River Trail delivers nicely. To begin with, it requires a warm-up hike along one of the deservedly popular trails from Miles Canyon or Chadburn Lake Road. The Lower Canyon trail is the most spectacular approach, providing adrenalin rushes as it skims the cliff's edge with boiling water far below before crossing a scenic plateau, running up and down steep rocky hillsides and finally ending at Canyon City, where wild strawberries abound in July and a cool dip in the river beckons if the sun is hot enough. But this is where the real hike begins!

Now you can escape the tourist crowds and head out on a much less travelled single track that follows the lazy Yukon river upstream toward Marsh Lake, staying high above sandy slopes and clay cliffs, passing through alternating groves of poplars and pines, all the time offering spectacular views of the mountains west of Whitehorse. Fragrant sage and thick kinnikinnik carpets the dry ground, with patches of wild rose lining the trail in places.

Unlike the Canyon City section, this trail is high above the river - too high and steep to access the water. There are a few deep ravine crossings, but otherwise it sticks to the clifftops or side slopes. Mountain bikers need to concentrate to stay on the narrow trail especially where it traverses steep slopes. My dog loves chasing sticks at the sandy bowl, where the wind inevitably surprises us by grounding the stick far short of where we both expect it to land.

You can hike, run or bike for many kilometres along this scenic trail before heading back the same way you came. It's a beautiful way to finish a challenging bike ride around Chadburn Lake, or just to go for an easy run out and back. Not surprisingly, the Yukon River Trail is used for both the "King of the Canyon" year-end mountain bike race and the annual Yukon River Marathon. It is obvious why: this route never disappoints.

- Pippa Lawrence

Autumn discovery

Have you ever walked through the Research Forest just north of Whitehorse?

This was the question I posed to my co-workers the week after my husband and I spent a lovely autumn afternoon exploring some of the trails in the Gunnar Nilsson-Mickey Lammers Research Forest several weeks ago. And, other than one former staff member who 'had gone there a few years ago,' no one was familiar with the trails or this beautiful area - even more surprising given that our workplace is about 1 kilometre away as the crow flies!
                       
This led me to wonder how many other Whitehorse residents have never had the opportunity to discover the delights of this diverse area. Perhaps it is the somewhat utilitarian-looking entrance/parking lot - or one's haste to get to the hotsprings - that doesn't immediately entice travellers into the research forest, but, once a few metres along the trail, one realizes that venturing into this area will be rewarding.

After crossing through the entrance gate (where coloured forest maps are available in a box!), a short walk along the main "Forest Science Loop" leads to the turnoff for the "Kettle Lake Trail." Interpretive signs here (and along all the trails) enriched our appreciation of the terrain, which was beautiful with the sun sparkling through the leafless deciduous trees onto the grassy ground. We can't wait to see this area next summer! Next, after circling the "Elders' Trail," we headed down the connector trail to find the "Upland Route." Not only is this trail an intriguing trek through a variety of vegetation and rolling terrain, but it also leads to one of the most spectacular viewpoints imaginable - including a lovely observation platform with seating, overlooking the Takhini River Valley.

The most difficult part of our visit was realizing that we would have to leave exploring the "Lowland Trail," which we observed from the viewing platform as winding along right next to the Takhini River, for another day. As we completed the hiking loop and returned to our vehicle, we revelled in our discovery of these beautiful trails, while simultaneously lamenting that it took us so many years to finally do so!

So, next time you're heading out to the hotsprings or to more distant points, leave time to turn into the parking area, just off the Klondike Highway (about 500 metres south of the Takhini Hot Springs Road - watch for the sign), and enjoy your own discovery!

I have always loved walking the section of the Millennium Trail in Riverdale near the hatchery. It’s not just because of the landscape, but because it perfectly captures a cross-section of Whitehorse residents enjoying and using the river. On any given evening walk, you can see kayakers, children with fishing rods, young lovers, elders and olders, walkers, runners, and any number of wheeled devices.

- Glenda Koh

My favourite walk in Whitehorse

I cut through from Falaise with my dog and my kids, cross Rhine Way, walk along in the shadow of the broomball arena, cross Normandy and follow the new asphalt path to its end, near to the McIntyre Creek pumphouse. From the end of the asphalt path, we cross over onto sandy trails, dodging the roots and low-hanging branches. We stop to look down on McIntyre Creek, and often see eagles perched high on the treetops. Sometimes the kids and the dog scramble down the sandy embankment for a closer look at the inhabitants.

Continuing on, we make our way up the steep sandy trail, enjoying the warm sunshine on our backs and watching out for signs of wildlife. We keep turning left, leaving the trails to the right for another day to explore, and eventually the trail leads us downhill to a narrow footbridge that crosses McIntyre Creek. We stop to enjoy the coolness of the shade; the sun hardly makes it through the trees here. It is a delightful rest-stop on a hot summer's afternoon; an icy paradise in winter. My dog picks her way down the bank to drink from the creek, while we cool down and read the interpretive sign for the umpteenth time, keeping an eye on the water for signs of life.

A steep, uphill climb from the bridge brings us back into the warm sunshine, up and down, up and down, until we reach the bridge at the pumphouse. From here we follow the main dirt road toward College Drive. Passing by the asphalt trail, we turn right onto a trail, where we pick mushrooms in the fall. It leads us back to the downhill section of the asphalt path, which leads us back home to Falaise.

- Anne Copland

My favorite walk?

This is a hard question and gets a variety of answers. So let me tell about this week's walk. You start, and finish, at the Arts Center. It makes me think of an M.C. Eschar walk. Just over 6 km, it's mostly downhill or flat with the exception of a short, steep trek up from the road to the Arts Centre. The hike includes bush, roads, trailer parks and the old city dump. The views of the river and Marwell Creek are great, and can include eagles, ravens and sometimes, swans.

Walk back behind the Arts Center and follow the nice wide path downhill towards McIntyre Creek. After about 100 metres, you'll turn right towards Mountainview Drive following a narrow trail high above the creek. Stop and listen to the water. When you get to Mountainview Drive, cross the road and take the trail left at the top of the creek's embankment. Follow alongside the edge, easily gaining height as the road drops below towards the creek. Follow the trail as it turns right high above the creek. Looking down you can see the creek coming out from under the culverts under the road.

Again follow along the heights above the creek. Look over the edge as you walk along to see the remnants of the old city dump. The trail stays along the edge, and finally leaving the bank as the trail reaches Range Road. Cross over and work your way through the bush to the large cleared space of the old dump and the viewpoint overlooking the river. There are a few interpretation signs telling the story of the cleanup. The view here is spectacular looking across to Whistlebend and the golf course. Downstream, you can see the river disappear around the bend. Upstream provides a nice view of Grey Mountain.

Leaving the point, you can return the same way you came, or, walk through the woods along the Yukon River escarpment following the clear trail. It drops down as you come to housing. Keep right when you come to the industrial area and follow the trail along the powerline back tothe river. Stay along the river and you'll come out above the Marwell wetlands. Watch for wildlife. Walk along the hilltop until the trailer court. Take the road back to Mountainview and cross, coming back up to the Arts Center.

I've also discused this trail in relation to current planning discussions around Range Road, Mountainview.

- Peter Long