Exploring Lewes Lake & the Annie Lake Road, Yukon

After being city folks without dogs on Canada Day, we decided to head south somewhere with the fur-kids on July 2nd. The weather was erratic and as we drove down the South Klondike Highway we tossed around a few ideas. I suggested that Lewes Lake might be fun to look around – a unique place that we seldom go to.
We turned right on the gravel access road at Km 128.6, and the first photo shows the road about a half-mile west of the highway.

Lewes Lake Road, Yukon

There are perhaps a dozen homes way off in the forest along the Lewes Lake road – once past them, the road narrows and gets rather rough.

Lewes Lake Road, Yukon

This is Lewes Lake. It was accidentally partially drained during construction of the White Pass & Yukon Route railway a century ago, and many acres of barren talcum-powder-fine glacial silt, once under water, remain high above the current shoreline.

Lewes Lake, Yukon

The dust is extremely fine.

Lewes Lake, Yukon

This dried-up tire track gives an idea of what it’s like when it’s wet!

Lewes Lake, Yukon

Erosion has created some interesting features, such as this little canyon that is driveable with a 4×4. Kayla and Monty had great fun here!

We hiked down to the shore to find a pair of large, fairly new, beautifully-crafted beaver dams.

Beaver dams at Lewes Lake, Yukon

The upper dam is by far the largest – the skill and effort required to build a structure like this amazes me.

Beaver dam at Lewes Lake, Yukon

Kayla and Monty weren’t exactly anxious to leave :)

Huskies at Lewes Lake, Yukon

We left and headed for another place we seldom visit, the Wheaton Valley. I didn’t keep notes on the distances, but after we crossed over the first bridge, I stopped and walked back to get a couple of photos of the river.

The Watson River bridge, Yukon

The light made the Watson River look quite different on each side of the bridge – the first photo is looking east…

The Watson River, Yukon

…and then west.

The Watson River, Yukon

The series of valleys we were heading into is extremely complex, and it would take years to explore it in any details. There are roads and trails everywhere – the book Whitehorse & Area Hikes & Bikes gives a couple of hikes to get you started but doesn’t go far down the road system.

The water levels at the bottom end of Annie Lake were very high.

Annie Lake, Yukon

Few people visit spectacular Annie Lake, no doubt at least partly because there are few public access points and no good beaches (at least I don’t know of any).

Annie Lake, Yukon

Crossing the Wheaton River. Over the years this bridge has often been the end of the road, as when all the mines closed, maintenance of it stopped and it got quite a swayback. With several mines and exploration camps now operating, the bridge is in good shape.

The Wheaton River bridge, Yukon

The Wheaton River, looking northeast.

The Wheaton River, Yukon

The sign on this bridge over the Wheaton River says: “Unmaintained Bridge: Proceed at Your Own Risk”. We had already crossed over it – this shot was taken looking back. On the road going up the creek, there are several pieces of mining equipment being worked on – the road goes to the Goddell gold property of Tagish Lake Gold, and possibly to an antimony property being worked by Scout Explorations.

Wheaton River, Yukon

Looking down the Wheaton River – we spent quite a while here, with the beauty only slightly marred by the sounds and smells of distant heavy equipment working.

Wheaton River, Yukon

A truck crosses the Wheaton River bridge en route to one of the other properties being worked by Tagish Lake Gold.

Mining truck in the Yukon

Direction signs for Tagish Lake Gold’s office, mines and heliport.

Tagish Lake Gold signs

This was our turn-around point, a couple of miles past the Wheaton River bridge – that’s Mount McNeil ahead (about 7,500 feet high). I need to do some research on who is working back here and where so I know what’s accessible now. And I need to bring a GPS so I know exactly where I am :)

Wheaton Valley, Yukon

At the bottom is what I believe to be the Goddell camp.

A mine in the Wheaton Valley, Yukon

The geology of this entire region is hugely fascinating. About 15 years ago I spent a lot of time back here, and had decided that this would be the subject of my next book. There are old mines everywhere back here, dating back over a century. But I got side-tracked and the book never happened – but I do still have hundreds of pages of research notes, so you never know!

Wheaton Valley, Yukon

Comments

Exploring Lewes Lake & the Annie Lake Road, Yukon — 1 Comment

  1. I love blogs like this because they take me places I’ll probably never get to see yet the way you write about them I kind of feel like I’ve been there. Thanks so much for sharing this.