Distance: 15 km
Elevation Gain: 1250 m (4101 ft)
Time: 8 hours
Date Added: June 1, 2008
Last Update: January 2, 2010
The King's Throne is truly a majestic site when viewed from the shores of Kathleen Lake. It is one of the more popular day hikes in Kluane National Park, with breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and Kathleen Lake below. The route described goes to the summit, though many people opt to save their knees and stop once they reach the seat of the throne (at the top of the rock glacier, about two thirds up).
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Drive south from Haines Junction on the Haines Road for 32 km. Turn right at the Parks Canada Kathleen Lake Campground sign. Stay on the main road that leads towards Kathleen Lake (rather than taking the left eventually up to the campground), and look for a sign that says Cottonwood Trail / King's Throne Trail. Park where the sign indicates. Here you will find the old mining road which is the trailhead.
From the parking lot, follow the old mining road through the forest and eventually alongside Kathleen Lake. You will reach a fork in the road with a log sign post which indicates to go left for King's Throne/Cottonwood Trail or right for Kathleen Lake. The sign post may be knocked down. If in doubt, always stay to the left on the road. Take the left and continue until you reach the second fork with another log signpost which indicates to go left for King's Throne or right for the Cottonwood Trail. Take the left path which immediately begins to climb steadily upwards.
After a steady climb in the trees, you will reach the treeline and will be following the rest of the path through loose rocks. Here you will get your first view of Kathleen Lake and the surrounding valley. The path switchbacks up the rock glacier and should be clearly visible if there is no snow on the trail.
You will reach an obvious plateau in the 'seat' of the King's Throne with an amphitheater of rocky ridges surrounding you. This is a popular lunch stop with an amazing view, and is the turn around point if you are not interested in climbing along the steep ridge to the summit or are looking for a shorter hike.
If you decide to continue up towards the summit, the trail becomes more difficult, but is well worth the effort for the extra view of the other side of the mountain. Facing the mountain, you will be taking the left ridge, so continue along the trail and follow it up the steep climb to the top of the ridge. This left ridge will eventually lead to the summit on the right, so don't be tempted to take a short cut and climb the ridge on the right - it's even more steep with loose rocks.
The climb is steep but you're rewarded constantly with new views. You will soon get a view of Dezadeash Lake to your left. The trail should remain clearly visible except in some rocky scree areas where the trail is not always easy to see.
At the top of the ridge will be a plateau where you get a view of some of the mountains adjacent to King's Throne. However, you also get a taste of the brutal winds that can knock you straight off your feet, so you may decide to take a few photos and continue along the ridge right away.
After another steady climb you will finally be rewarded with a magnificent view behind the mountain. Carefully follow the thin ridge towards the summit of the King's Throne. Valleys, rivers, lakes, and mountains seem to continue without end. On a clear day you can see the large massif of Mount Alverstone, Mount Hubbard, and Mount Kennedy from here - which is so magnificent as to give you a chill. Return the way you came up.
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