Distance: 4 km
Elevation Gain: 214 m (702 ft)
Time: 2 hours
Date Added: August 2, 2018
Last Update: August 2, 2018
Williscroft Canyon is a spectacular and unique hike in the Kluane Lake area of the Kluane National Park. Huge canyon walls reach up above a beautiful clear, cobble and boulder strewn creek. The reward at the end of the canyon is a huge boulder lodged within a narrowing in the canyon walls, with a small waterfall running below it. Under most water level conditions, be prepared to cross the creek regularly.
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From Haines Junction, drive 79 km north on the Alaska Highway towards Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing. During this drive you will pass the Tachal Dhal Visitor Centre at Kluane Lake and a little while further (9 km) you will see a highway sign for Williscroft Creek. Just after the highway crosses the creek there is a dirt road that leads off to the left. Follow this road for a few hundred meters up to a gravel pit area. Park where it is flat near the top of the hill. This is the trailhead. The road does continue a little ways higher, but it becomes rougher and there is not as good of a place to turn around.
Note this route requires picking your own route up the creek bed. You should expect to be crossing the creek multiple times, though in most conditions you can find rocks to step across. Poles are a big help to steady yourself. Be aware of potential seasonal and weather conditions that could make the creek water levels higher and the route more challenging or dangerous. Expect higher water levels in late spring and early-summer, as well as during steady hot weather in the summer. Be particularly weary during heavy rain events as canyons are essentially funnels for the water and the canyon rock walls could become unstable with landslides or rock fall. Note early in the spring and summer there could still be snow in the canyon as it sees less sun.
Note: Overnight trips in Kluane National Park and Reserve require registration and approved bear resistant food canisters. Please visit the Park's website for details.
Start the hike by following the gravel road for a few 100 meters. Soon you will reach the embankment above Williscroft Creek near the start of the canyon. Keep to the right of the creek (heading upstream) for the first part, following along the rocky river bed. Keep an eye up ahead to see if and when you may need to cross the creek. As mentioned, expect to do this multiple times as you make your way up the canyon. The creek is braided for the most part and relatively easy to cross.
The hike is very gradual uphill and not very strenuous, just hard on the ankles with all the rocks. Poles come in handy again. There are some areas of willows and alder along the route, but no bad bushwacking.
After 2.2 km of hiking up the creek, you should reach the small waterfall chute and huge boulder lodged within the narrowing in the canyon wall. This is the end of the route and the most technical part with some larger boulder hoping and scrambling if you want to get closer to the waterfall and big boulder. During high water you may not be able to make it this far as the canyon walls are very narrow and the water concentrated in that smaller space.
Return the way you came up, enjoying another perspective of the canyon on your way down.
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