Hiking the Grizzly Creek Trail in Tombstone Territorial Park

From Thursday, August 3rd, until Saturday the 5th, we camped at Tombstone Mountain Campground, and attended a few of the events during “Tombstone Rocks”, a Tombstone Park Geology Weekend.

After 2 hikes on Saturday, Cathy and I drove down to the Grizzly Creek trailhead that evening, to be sure that the motorhome would fit for the hike on Sunday morning. Cathy was flying home that afternoon and I didn’t want to take time away from the trail to drive back to the campground to get the motorhome. Due to new parking lot improvements with a large RV area, it would fit. The next photo was shot right at the Km 60 post as I drove back to the campground.

Km 60, Dempster Highway, Yukon
Back at our campsite, a very confident snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) came to visit us for the second evening. I was amazed at how close he came, even with 2 dogs (I was very pleased with both Bella’s and Tucker’s calm reaction to the hare, too).

Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) at Tombstone Mountain Campground, Yukon
At 10:00 on Sunday morning, another group of about 15 people had gathered at the Grizzly Creek trailhead. All but 3 of the group were new to the Geology Weekend events, so the 40-minute introduction to the area started with the basics.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
At Km 1.5 of the trail, we took a break and Don and Leyla explained more about the area’s geology. This spot on Cairnes Creek is the last spot where water bottles can be filled – the trail starts to climb fairly steeply soon after.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
While YukonHiking.ca rates the trail as Easy, they’re the only ones who do. Yukon Parks says: “Many people are not prepared for the level of difficulty they encounter on this trail. …From [Km 1.5] it’s a steady and relentless climb through willow and dwarf birch and then finally through rocky terrain to the Mount Monolith Lookout [at Km 3]”. Some of our group turned back at around the time the next photo was shot, at 11:25.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
There was a rest stop at “the first lookout”, and Don was noticeably pleased when everybody said that they were going to continue another 20 minutes to the main lookout where he wanted to do his talk.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
The start of the final climb.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
Yes, it is that steep. And it was very warm, 24C/75F perhaps.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
This, however, is the reward. I’m calling this one of the finest views I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world, for a variety of scenic and emotional reasons. Mount Monolith is the one with “the finger” 🙂

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
I very seldom hike with other people – my passion is for solo wilderness travel. Being in a location like this, on a day like this, with a group of like-minded people, though, made this a very special experience.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
Don Murphy was clearly in his element. He may be retired, but he still lives and breathes rocks.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
Looking to the north-east from the lookout, to Fold Mountain. From this vantage point, those ridges of Keno Hill quartzite can be followed quite clearly from Fold Mountain, across two valleys and far up towards Mount Monolith.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon

I had to head down at 12:45 to get Cathy to the airport. When I went to thank Don and Leyla for an awesome weekend, they asked if I’d be interested in working with them on a Geology & History Weekend on Montana Mountain next year. Wow – would I ever!

Hiking back to the car alone, I could take many more photos than I did on the way up. The trail requires you to watch your footing quite closely.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
On the way up, I hadn’t noticed that the trail climbs up a glacial esker and runs along the top of it for a few hundred yards/meters. Eskers are one of my favourite glacial landforms – each is unique, and I love the way they wander across the land. There are also 2 blow-down areas, where every tree has been knocked down by micro-burst wind events, over areas of about 1 and 3 acres.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon
Back at the trailhead, 25 minutes early. It was exactly 3 hours round trip.

Grizzly Creek trail, Tombstone Park, Yukon

From there, the Dawson airport was the next stop, and then, to an RV park in Dawson for the night. This was Day 10 on the road without services, and I had various tanks on the RV to empty or fill before continuing on for another few days.



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