Distance: 11 km
Elevation Gain: 1175 m (3855 ft)
Time: 5-7 hours
Date Added: September 1, 2013
Last Update: September 1, 2013
The steep trail up to AB Mountain gives you the best of both worlds - ocean and mountain views. The jaw dropping, 360 degree views of Taiya Inlet, Dyea, the town of Skagway, and the numerous peaks and glaciers won't disappoint you. You can choose to go as far as you like, either to the first viewpoint (10.6 km return), the second (12.2 km return) or even to the summit (17.4 km return) depending on the amount of time and energy you have.
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Drive south on the South Klondike Highway from Whitehorse to Skagway, Alaska. Approximately 7 km after crossing through the US Customs (bring your passports!), turn off the highway to the right onto the Dyea Road. Drive for another 3 km until you reach a small pullout on the left and a trail sign and trail on the right. This is the parking area and trailhead for the AB Mountain hike (also known as the Skyline Trail).
AB stands for Arctic Brotherhood, a fraternal organization formed during the gold rush in 1899. The trail is wide and well maintained for the first part of the route, passing through beautiful birch and hemlock forests. The elevation gain is very gradual for the first 3.5 km and then the trail starts to really climb, becoming much steeper and more overgrown. You will need to use your hands in some spots to climb up, and there is one part with a rope to help you along a section of slippery rock (test your weight on the rope before climbing).
You will reach the first viewpoint after 5.3 km once the trail gets above treeline (1,175 m elevation gain). After this the trail levels out and the elevation gain is much more gradual. Note the trail can become less defined in some areas once in the alpine, so do your best to stick to the main trail wherever you can.
From the first viewpoint you can continue another 800 m to a second viewpoint a little higher up. The views from the second viewpoint are pretty spectacular with Taiya Inlet, Dyea, Skagway and the many surrounding peaks and glaciers. The true summit is 2.6 km further and another 300 m up along the ridge. There are a few ups and downs along the ridge so it can be easier to traverse along the east side (right side) of the ridge and then up to the summit. The views are pretty similar from any of the three options along the ridge, aside from getting a closer look at the rocky spires of Mount Clifford from the main summit.
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