Total Distance: 8 km
Return Time: 3.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 318 m
Take the train to a cabin below a glacier! The Laughton Glacier is a short hike that can be done in one day, or as an overnight trip with a cabin to stay in. It is a well-developed trail leading to a view of the Laughton Glacier, spilling down between rocky peaks.
Although you could hike or ski to this trail, most people take the train. Book your train tickets with the White Pass & Yukon Route (roughly $70 USD round trip). If you want to stay in the cabin, make sure to reserve your dates ahead of time. It is $45 USD per night for the entire cabin.
The trailhead is about 14 miles along the railway tracks from Skagway. When you get off the train, there is a signpost at the trailhead just before the trestle train bridge.
The trail is easy to follow and is very well developed compared to Yukon trails. A packed gravel trail, stone steps, wooden bridges over even the tiniest creek, multiple outhouses, benches, a fire pit, split wood, and a cozy cabin. Luxury! All you're missing is a bottle of wine (or two).
The trail starts gradually upwards through the coastal forest and follows along the Skagway River. It is a pleasant walk under the canopy of the rain forest. After 2.3 kms (roughly 45 minutes), you will reach a sign indicating left for the cabin or right for the trail to the glacier. If you are staying at the cabin, it is only a few meters up the trail on the left. If you are not staying at the cabin, head right to minimize your impact on people who are staying at the cabin.
From the cabin (or from the fork in the trail with the sign if you are not going to the cabin), the trail heads towards Laughton Creek and follows it up towards the glacier (another 1.7 km). The route becomes rockier and the footing becomes uneven. When you reach the glacier, you can either cross over to the left side or follow the moraine along the right. Just note that the far right slope is unstable and can release large boulders now and then. If you are going to cross to the left, you can try to find a rock bridge to hop across near where the ice becomes visible on the glacier. Continue walking up the moraines or on the ice until you get to a high point and can see all of the glacier. The impressive glacier spills down around the rocky peaks like fingers grasping the mountain ridge. To return, retrace your steps back.
Notes on the Cabin: The cabin sleeps 6 comfortably - there are 2 double bunks on the bottom and 2 single bunks on the top. The bunks are separated by a table. There is shelving and cupboards along one wall and a kerosene stove near the door. If you want to use the stove, you have to bring your own kerosene, probably around 4 litres for every night you stay there. There is an awning and a small porch in the front of the cabin with a bench, as well as a fire pit. There is an outhouse near the cabin and places to pitch a tent.
FrozenFella September 21, 2019
I think it’s amazing we have a choice of several whistlestop trailheads available to us so close! A buddy and I rented the cabin here for two nights and were able to explore all over the area at leisure. The NPS & Forest Service provide an excellent experience with their trail maintenance and cabin. The WP&YR service was excellent as well, with super friendly staff. The trail was much easier than I expected, right up to the glacier. Travel on the glacier was certainly a lot easier with my Hillsounds, I would have been slipping a lot without trail crampons. The glacier is beautiful, and we got to see it in several moods from fog shrouded to sunshine and reflecting blue sky.
I think families, couples, groups, pairs and solos would all enjoy this one.
10/10 would recommend.
Kyliestravel May 4, 2018
We ski toured from outhouse hill parking lot along the white pass tracks. Generally ok to travel, throughout the day others turned back due to avalanche risk. It took 6 hours from outhouse hill to start of trail head from train tracks. total 7 hours to the cabin. Then enjoyed some skitouring and stayed in cabin - its free to use in winter, but first come first serve.
We then came out down the tracks to the pipeline. Took us 5 hours+ but one girl made it from trail head tracks to trail head of pipeline in 1 hour skiing (no skins). Very icy sections, needed for the tunnels. So bring spikes. Pretty brutal hike when you have to carry gas and beer. travelled easter long weekend
Jane Doe March 27, 2018
$45usd for cabin
$70usd for round trip train, per person
Margrit Sylvestre July 1, 2015
A wonderful day hike:
Take the trail to the glacier. Just after the outhouse (not the one by the cabin) bushwhack over to the west lateral moraine (to the right when facing the glacier) and follow the faint trail on the top of it to the glacier. There is a creek on your right. Closer to the glacier, when you get to a grassy slope on your right, you can cross the creek and head up the slope. In the early summer this area is filled with flowers.