St. Elias Lake

Distance: 4 km
Elevation Gain: 120 m (394 ft)
Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Region: Kluane
Date Added: January 24, 2010
Last Update: January 24, 2010
Winter: ski touring snowshoeing 

St. Elias Lake is a short hike with great rewards. There is a campground at the lake, which is nestled between tall mountains. This trail is great for beginner backcountry camping because it is a short trail to a campground with amenities. It is also great to do with kids.

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Driving Directions

From Haines Junction, drive towards Haines, Alaska for about 60 km. There is a pull-out on the right-hand side of the road and a sign will indicate the St. Elias Trail.

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Trail Description

The trailhead is right off from the highway pullout. The trail has a few ups and downs, but becomes relatively flat near the lake. All in all, it's an easy trail, and easy to follow.

The trail meanders through the trees for a couple of kilometers and then opens up with views of two surrounding peaks. The trail remains out of the trees all the way to the lake.

The lake has campsites, a food cache, and an outhouse. There is a great view of the surrounding peaks from the lake.


The trail is often tracked for x-country skiing in the winter. Snowshoeing is also a great option. Once you get to the lake, if it is frozen you can continue right to the opposite end of the lake.

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.


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Comments / Trip Reports

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September 24, 2018

Nice nature walk through the fall colours for about an hour.
May 17, 2018

Did this trail today May 17th. Very easy, still muddy in a few sections of the trail. Takes about 50 mins one way. Lake still frozen...
December 28, 2016

Did this trail on Dec 27th. It was -24. We left at 11 and were back at the car by 3:30 with 1/2 hr. lunch stop at the lake. We used snow shoes and had to break trail the whole way. I'm quite sure it's 4 kms. each way since there was a 2 km. sign approx. half way. It was a moderate snow shoe hike breaking trail. Very nice trip.
Alastair Cook
August 30, 2015

My wife, daughter, and five year old grandson hiked this trail yesterday. It's a classic mix of walking through the trees, some elevation gain, but not too much, and the open panoramas towards the end, with towering mountains on each side at close range, in this case with some wonderful Fall colours emerging. It took us over a couple of hours each way, but my grandson was very intent on studying all the mushrooms that were in abundance everywhere, hence the longer time. We also spent some time at the little campground at the lake, and successfully made a fire. However, be advised there is very little wood to be had.
The going was very easy and there was no chance of getting lost as it is a maintained and well used trail.
A most enjoyable day out.
August 16, 2015

Walked this trail in late June. An easy hike that leads to a lovely alpine lake and campsite. Recommend renting the canoe that is stored there. Spotted fresh deer/moose prints on the return trip in the mud on the trail.
July 26, 2014

We hiked this trail a few days ago. It was a fairly easy hike with really nice scenery. One thing to note, it is not 4 km round trip, but 4 km each way. At a fairly relaxed pace with the kids and their grandfather it took us an hour in each direction.

July 19, 2014

Did this trail yesterday and spent the night. First backcountry camping experience for my husband and my son (1 yr old) and we had a blast. The trail is really easy and the campsite was well maintained. We didn't have a problem finding dead branches for firewood, but I would suggest bringing a little hatchet. There was a dead tree that had been cut down near the tent pads that still had some bigger limbs on it.

We saw a mountain goat on the slopes above us (had the binoculars to confirm it wasn't a "rock goat"), and a beaver came out to make sure we were staying clear of his little lodge. Did some fishing and saw some Dolly Varden in the lake but couldn't get them to bite. Woke up in the morning to a valley full of mist. It was a great first time experience! We'll definitely be going back soon.