Sam McGee Trail


Distance: 9 km
Elevation Gain: 618 m (2028 ft)
Time: 3.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Region: Carcross
Date Added: September 26, 2012
Last Update: September 26, 2012
Winter: snowshoeing 



Follow this historic trail up into the alpine below Montana Mountain. The trail was originally made to service the tramway built in 1905 by Sam McGee for a silver mining operation. There are many remnants of the tramway and mining artifacts along the trail. The view from the top is fantastic, with Windy Arm of Tagish Lake below, and all of the surrounding mountains. There are a lot of deciduous trees here, so this is also a great trail to view the amazing fall colours. To extend this hike, you can connect to the Mountain Hero mountain biking trail, or hike up some of the surrounding ridges.


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Driving Directions

Drive south on the South Klondike Highway towards Skagway. About 17 km south of Carcross you will see an old tramway on the left side of the highway. Immediately after the tramway, the highway will curve to the right over a creek and there is a gravel road on the left. Park at the top of the road.

To get to the trailhead, cross the road and walk down into the ditch. Turn right (north) back up the highway for a few meters where you will see a wooden post with a small trail sign on it. The path is clearly visible through the trees from this point.




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Trail Description

Most of the trail is through the trees, but it is well established, fairly narrow, and varied in vegetation, making it is quite a pleasant hike. Along the way you will see the old tramway, remnants from the 1905 silver mining operation where Sam McGee was the foreman.

The trail climbs at a good incline for most of the way. Not far up the trail there is a wooden bench that you can rest at and enjoy an opening through the trees of Windy Arm of Tagish Lake and the mountains on the other side of the lake. From here, the trail goes back into the trees, but opens up for more views higher up.

After 4 kms there will be a fork in the path. The left path will take you another few hundred meters where you will leave the trees behind and get an expansive view down toward Windy Arm. It also leads to an old outhouse and more tramway artifacts. If you don't want to continue hiking up any further, you should take the left path so that you can get the amazing view right away. Even if you take the left path, you can still make your way up into the alpine, you will just have to pick your way through some small brush, but it isn't difficult. The right path continues through the trees a little longer as it makes its way into the alpine. The right path is part of the Mountain Hero mountain biking trail which continues all the way around Montana Mountain, so if you want to go for a longer hike, you can follow this path. In fact, you could go up one path and down the other if you want as well.

If you decide to hike higher up into the alpine, you have quite a few options. You can continue following the Mountain Hero trail to the other side of Montana Mountain and even follow the road back down to Carcross (you would need two vehicles if you decide to do this). You can stay down on the plateau and walk on the old mining roads to an alpine lake. Another option, described here, is to hike up the ridge to get to a high point between Montana Mountain and Mount Matheson.

To access the ridge, follow the Mountain Hero trail until you can easily cross the creek gulley (this is about 2 kms after that first fork in the trail back in the trees). Pick your way up the broad ridge as you cross an old mining road and come to another place with more tramway artifacts. Continue up the ridge, which should start to become more defined now. The first high point on the ridge is at an altitude of 1957 meters, but you can continue up to the next high point at 2069 meters where you will get a great view of Mount Matheson and even Bennett Lake. You should add another 4 hours (and 13 kms) round trip to hike to this point and back.

Elevations

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Comments / Trip Reports

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Anthony
March 26, 2017

Went up March 25 on skis. We followed a good snowshoe track about half way to treeline, then a narrower bootpacked trail until the last couple of switchbacks just before reaching the alpine.

We carried on to the Montana Mountain summit and then skiied back to Carcross. Great snow conditions.
Andrew
January 8, 2017

Hiked Sam McGee Trail on Jan. 4. Trail was packed down most of the way but snowshoes were definitely needed at the top where the snow was waist deep in places. Four and a half hours round trip with 20 minutes at the top.
T&C
November 30, 2016

My husband and I did this trail today for the first time. The view was gorgeous. It was great to have little sneak-peeks of the view along the trail. There was about two feet of fresh powder on the upper switchback part of the trail - snowshoes were a must! The first chunk of the trail is a nice, easy, winding gradual feel, but as you get into the switchbacks, we would say that with all that snow it is more moderate/difficult. The view is worth it :)
Erin Giesbrecht
September 27, 2016

The sign at the trailhead says "Mountain Hero"
Dagmar Rudzewitsch
September 13, 2016

Still on of my favourites ...
Steph
September 5, 2016

Great views on a beautiful September day.
Alastair Cook
August 28, 2016

Saturday, August 27th was a great day to be on the Sam McGee trail, a beautiful mix of sun, cloud, mild temperatures and fall colours. There were quite a few people hiking, which was good to see. The sad side of things was the recent passing of Wayne Roberts who was responsible for the trail being what it is today. We all owe a lot to the pioneering work of others. What a great legacy he left, something for us all to enjoy for years to come.
I also found a small knife and black case on the trail. If anyone happens to read this,who knows the owner phone me at 456-4397.
Ellie, Laura & Vanessa
May 26, 2016

Drive past Carcross going south towards Skagway on the South Klondike Highway. About 17km after passing Carcross you will spot a tramway ruin on the left hand side off the side of the road, continue driving a few meters to a pull off on the left hand side of the road, where you will be able to park in an open area. Once you've parked, cross the road and down into the ditch, where you will see a trailhead post down to the right. This trailhead post is the Moutain Hero Trail.

The first two kilometres are following a well marked trail through the forest. You will come across a few tramway ruins before coming to an opening and bench area looking out at the Windy Arm about 2kms from the trailhead. After this look out area, the incline of the trail becomes more steep as you climb the mountain.

From here, continue along the trail another 2km (4km from trailhead). Here, you will come to a fork in the trail where you are given the choice to go right or left. We continued left for another 1.5km and we were able to see old ruins of what we thought to be housing locations for mine shaft workers. Continue until you come to a second fork in the trail, and keep left again for another kilometre where you will reach ruins of an outhouse and more tramways. It was safe to explore around the ruins and great views of Windy Arm and Tagish Lake are beautiful from above the tree line.

It is possible to continue up and explore around the area. We experienced all weather conditions such as rain, hail and snow, but it was an amazing hike with plenty to see along the way!

No dangers of bear sightings. About 6km from trailhead to highest tramway ruins and we completed this hike up and back in about 4 hours, stopping plenty to take photos and explore the tramways.
Fred
April 4, 2016

Heads up to anyone looking to hike this trail in the following weeks. Snow is melting up there making an incredibly trudgy hike. You will be dropping up to 3' on some steps. IMO snowshoes still absolutely needed for higher regions in combination with waterproof shoes.
Alastair Cook
March 19, 2016

A friend and I hiked up to almost the top of the tree line today. A couple of inches of fresh snow, but didn't need to use the snow shoes we brought. Great hike. However, I had my snow shoes (blue Tubbs)strapped to my back pack. I didn't realize till I was home, amazingly, that I no longer had them. They had to have fallen off somewhere on the way down. If anyone sees them, could they please contact me at 456-4397. It's a long shot I know, but this seems an appropriate place to advertise the fact. Great hike though. We were out for about three and a half hours.
Anthony
February 22, 2016

On February 20 we skied up the trail and then followed the old mining roads back to Carcross. There is a bomber snowshoe track for the first few km and now there is our ski track to follow to the treeline.
Christine
January 26, 2016

A spectacular trail in great conditions, it's not as define once on the plateau but it does not matter. Views, close and distant, in all directions fabulous!
Stephen K
September 26, 2014

Wonderful trail! It felt like it must be at its very best towards the end of September (hiked yesterday, the 25th) with the deciduous trees turning colour and losing some of their leaves. Great views, nice climb through different ecozones, interesting artefacts from mining days. I'd call this trail "easy" in the sense that it is nice and smooth--few rocks and roots or bad steps to take--and very well maintained, but the climb is pretty relentless, and if this kind of grade rates "easy" then the average Yukon hiker must be part mountain goat. Well worth the effort, all the same. Hiking poles were good to have for scrambling the really steep bits above the trees and on the descent. You won't be disappointed.
Inga
August 14, 2014

We hiked this trail in early July in perfect conditions. We connected it to a scramble up to the summit of Montana Mountain, so got to traverse various eco-zones covering about 5,000 foot elevation - according to my altimeter - and a couple of remaining snow patches. As we took the detour via the tramway which meant a bit of a bushwhack up to the plateau we took close to 6 hours from highway to the summit. The hike down was much faster at about 3.5 hours (summit to highway). (Times include breaks, lunches and time on the summit). We enjoyed clear views from the summit and loved the evening sun accompanying the descent. The only people we saw all day were a group of 3 mountain bikers around 10 pm descending on Sam McGee (Mountain Hero). Great day.
H&C
July 31, 2014

This is the second time I went on the trail. It took 1.5 hours to the top (where the last wooden structure was) and from there we climbed further to the top of the mountain and walked left, across the top. Saw tons of goats and the scenary was amazing!
Terry Joss
June 28, 2014

This is one of my favorite trails. Well maintained, easy to find, and you can explore forever. Highly recommended. Bring a camera, wildlife in pooley Canyon, Sheep, maybe a bear who knows, but the scenery is amazing.
Bob
June 23, 2014

Hiked up June 21st. The trail to the treeline is in great shape with only a little running water in places and took 90 minutes going steady. Lupine are everywhere in the alpine. Hiked up above the mine workings to ridge between Montana and Matheson Mountains which took another two hours. Needed to cross a few snow patches but not many. The ridge is awkward with light hiking shoes; boots are better. Very windy on top but great views. Didn't see any bugs all day. Only saw two people all day and no bikes. Took 8 hours with lunch and about 15 km with 1300 m elevation gain. Lots of hiking options in the alpine.
Arica
June 6, 2014

Great trail. We took our two boys 5yrs and 3yrs... A little steep for the three yr old in places but there was a bit of snow on the trail that kept them running from one patch to the next. Too much snow to actually summit but a great day.
Sophie
September 8, 2013

Wonderful hike with the fall colors! The trail is easy to follow and the slope is really progressive. Perfect trail for families or beginners.
Alastair Cook
August 19, 2013

Some friends and I hiked the trail yesterday. Wow...this is everything I enjoy in a hike...going up into the mountains, a good path,views everywhere, historical artifacts to see,and manageable even for an older fellow such as myself (60). I'm always curious as to how the time is designated for these hikes. It says three hours for this hike, but if that's both ways, and for the whole trail, then you must be running. We stopped a fair bit, but even so, I would have added an hour or two onto your three your posted time.
Either way, one of the best hikes I've ever done.
Genevieve
September 26, 2012

I have hiked this trail many time and never got tired of it! It's beautiful specialty in the fall. Once on top, if you are lucky you will see goats on the north side of Conrad Creek.
If you want to know more about the history of the mine,I recommend the book "Fractured Veins & broken Dreams"
Anthony
September 26, 2012

Mountain Hero is a popular mountain bike trail so if you hike it, try to keep your eyes and ears open for riders coming down. We always try to yield to hikers but, as the trail is quite steep and grown in, chances are you will hear us coming before we can see you.

This is one of the Yukon's best trails for hikers or bikers. The combination of views and silver mining history can't be beat. Glad to see it listed!