Most Important Facts
- Location: Trailhead Thachäl Dhäl (Sheep Mountain), 2.6 km (1.6 mi) up the Ä’äy Chù Valley from the Thachäl Dhäl Visitor Centre
- Distance: 10 km return trip (plus the distance you walk up the ridge to the peak of the Sheep Mountain)
- Elevation gain: 430 m, maximum elevation 1281 m (plus the altitude up the ridge)
- Hours needed: 3.5 to 4 hours
- Infrastructure: marked trail until you are on the ridge to the peak
- Costs: no fee or permit needed for a day hike
- Planning: ask for wildlife and weather conditions at the Thachäl Dhäl Visitor Centre
- Useful links:
Our Packing List
- Light day backpack
- Water bottle
- Cashew nuts
- Bear spray and bear bell
- Sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses
- Rain jacket
What we wished we brought
- Binoculars (we don’t have any, but it would have been nice to observe Dall sheep on the mountain ridges and other wildlife)
Our Way of Hiking the Sheep Creek Trail + the Ridge
Date of hike: June 8th 2018 – From Haines Junction we drove West on the Alaska Highway for about 40 miles until we reached the Kluane Lake and the Thachäl Dhäl Visitor Centre. There we stopped to use the binoculars of the Visitor Centre, which can be used for free to watch the nearby Dall sheep. Additionally, we asked about the current wildlife situation – as we always do. In the Bullion Creek – the valley next to the Sheep Creek and an other hiking option – there are a lot of Grizzlies in spring and should therefore be avoided during this time or only entered with caution.
From the Visitor Centre we drove the 2.6 km to the trailhead (gravel road). After just a few minutes of hiking on a flat and wide trail, we turned left to enter the Sheep Creek valley. The trail took us steadily upwards for about 1.5 hours and we got rewarded with stunning views of the valley and the Kaskawulsh Glacier. The trail abruptly ended on a cliff from which we – finally – spotted the Sheep Creek.
Most hikers return from this point. However, there is the option to extend the hike and walk up the ridge to the near by peak of the Sheep Mountain. It’s not a marked trail, but from the trail end it’s easy to find, even trough the willow. We followed the ridge for another hour before we decided to return. You can easily make it to the top of the mountain. But blisters were troubling me and so we decided not to push it. The walk up the ridge is definitely worth it as more and more mountains appear in the distance. Additionally, we saw Dall sheeps on the top of another mountain.
View from the ridge.
Natalie on the ridge.
The way down is easy and quick. We took a different route trough the willow back to the official Sheep Creek Trail, which was fun but a little more technical. Shortly before returning to our car, we saw the following sign:
Christine Ann Courtney hiked with her husband through the Bullion Creek Valley. You can read more about this tragedy here. The ranger at the Thachäl Dhäl Visitor Centre told us that this incident lead to a lot of research about bear behaviour in the park, and luckily, no fatal attack happened ever since. Our takeaways so far: Be aware. Make noise. Bring bear spray. And never run from a bear.
At the end of the day we drove to the Village Bakery in Haines Junction, ate a piece of cake and listened to a local band.
- Speak to the rangers before your hike, it’s always good to know the current conditions of the trail as well as the wildlife situation.
- Don’t bring too much food or water with you, the trail is easy to hike and does not need a lot of physical effort.
- Watch for bear drops and other signs of wildlife along the trail, stay alert and talk loudly. Like that, you minimize the risk of a dangerous wildlife encounter.
- Walk up the ridge.
- Visit the Village Bakery in Haines Junction.
Dall sheeps on the ridge of another mountain.
Our Trek Rating and Résumé
- Technical difficulty: 5/10
- Necessary fitness: 6/10
- Scenery: 7/10
- Wildlife: 5/10
- Fun: 7/10
Read about the Auriol Trail in Kluane Nationalpark here.
The peak of Sheep Mountain.