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The Donjek Region
Backpacking in Kluane National Park

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Located in the southwest corner of the Yukon, Kluane National Park boasts the highest peak in Canada, Mount Logan. Kluane National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site consisting of alpine tundra and hosting over two hundred varieties of Alpine Flora.

This region is north of the 60th parallel which means that the summer days can be as long as 19 hours and the winter days as short as four hours. The temperature can reach lows of -50°C in the winter season and summer days can be as warm as 33°C. Wildlife of the region includes grizzly and black bears, wolves, foxes, wolverines, muskrat, mink, marmot and lynx. Birdlife includes the golden and bald eagles.

The Donjek area is a favorite destination for hikers. There is no actual trail and you will need to be an expert at orienteering and an experienced backpacker. Be sure to have a good topographical map of the region. There are also tremendous elevation changes throughout the trek. An average trip takes about 10 days.

Along the way you may visit the Burwash Uplands and reach a saddle on the Amphitheatre Mountain. You will see sub-alpine meadows and find a patrol cabin at the base of an outcrop.

As you head into the area of the Hoge pass you will notice many gullies and travel along scree slopes. Eventually you will hike through some stands of poplar and spruce. This is prime bear area so be sure to make lots of noise as you travel through the woods. You will come along a meadow and see an incredible view of the Donjek Glacier. Canyons, waterfalls, old mining roads and other scenic treats await you on the Donjek Route. The view from the top of the Atlas Pass is breathtakingly beautiful. Kluane Lake is also very pretty.

Bears are numerous throughout the Donjek so precautions must be taken. Bear resistant canisters are recommended. Giardia has also been reported in Kluane, therefore you should treat water with chemicals, by boiling or filtering. You will need a compass and a good survival kit. It is not impossible to see snow on the passes even in the summertime. For safety reasons it is necessary to register your trip at the Haines Junction Visitors Centre or at Sheep Mountain.

This is definitely not a trip for a hiker who lacks advanced skills. Weather changes, water levels and the natural inhabitants can cause a hiker to have to adapt their route accordingly. This pristine wilderness region is awesome with high passes, deep canyons and sights such as caribou. Kluane National Park is a place to be treasured and experienced.

Written by Bryan March

masthead photo courtesy




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