Hiking to the Yukon’s historic Venus silver mine

A couple of weeks ago (April 30th), I was working around the house doing various projects. Every time I went outside the sun got warmer and warmer, and I finally decided that I needed to get out hiking and soak up more of those rays. The Venus mine was the destination of choice, and just before noon, I was on my way south.

At 1:40 I was parked at the trailhead, near Km 82 of the South Klondike Highway. The first photo is looking north. Starting up the old road, I noted that there was a new chain and lock on the gate. Interesting…

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
The road has seen some traffic recently, and I wondered if I might meet someone up ahead. It’s a nice hike, with a reasonable grade and spectacular views across Windy Arm of Tagish Lake.

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
The next photo is looking north, but looking back down the road after making a switchback. The land sticking out into the lake is the delta of Pooley Creek.

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
The view to the south, again looking back down the road after making another switchback. The Yukon/BC border goes across Windy Arm just this side of the curve in the lake.

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
Less than 20 minutes into the hike, the destination, the 1906 working of the Venus silver mine, could be seen directly ahead, though there was a lot of vertical to come.

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine

My plan was to hike to the mine on my usual route, which is pretty much vertical, then come down via the road/trail that a friend and I had hiked last July.

From the 1970s mine manager’s office, the 1906 workings can be seen above, marked by the arrow. My unmarked vertical route starts just north of this building, the only one remaining on the property.

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
The rock outcropping to the left is my landmark to start climbing, first scrambling up from the mine road, going across the slope to this outcropping, then straight up just past it.

The route to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
The straight-up route eventually intersects a trail from 1905-1906, and it leads across the slope to the mine.

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
In photos the trail is barely visible, and caution is needed while on unstable rock. Below the trail in the next photo, the collapsed bunkhouse/cookhouse can be seen.

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
The collapsed bunkhouse/cookhouse, and a tower for the aerial tramway that connected the mine to the mill that still stands on the shore of Windy Arm.

The collapsed bunkhouse/cookhouse at the Venus mine
The final 50 feet or so up to the mine entrance is quite treacherous, over pieces of steel and century-old wood. This is not a place for kids or dogs. The building in the next photo was the blacksmith shop. I reached the mine at 3:05, an hour and 25 minutes after leaving the car.

The Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
While the adit looks solid as far as you can see, I’ve never gone in more than 50-60 feet. Having worked underground at Granduc copper, I have great respect for such places.

The 1906 adit of the Venus mine
Ore cars were run out on this trestle, dumped into two storage bins below, and from there the ore went into the buckets on the aerial tramway.

The 1906 workings of the Venus mine
The next photo is a good overall view of the workings, looking south. There used to be a rail line from the mine to where I was standing, but it has slid down the slope in recent years.

The 1906 workings of the Venus mine
If you fell here, I don’t know if you could stop yourself from sliding on that extremely steep slope of mine waste. The mill can be seen on the lakeshore near the upper centre.

Talus slope at the 1906 workings of the Venus mine
Remains of an ancient shovel. It’s about the only artifact left – 25 years ago, there were lots of tools and pieces of equipment laying around.

Remains of an ancient shovel at the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
I explored around the mine for half an hour then started down. What a stunning place!

The trail from the Venus mine
Rockhounding around all of the Montana Mountain mines is quite good. This bed of quartz crystals is a beauty.

A bed of quartz crystals near the Venus mine
It only took 20 minutes to get back down to the 1970s Venus workings. A lot of cleanup was done here about a decade ago, but a lot of stuff was piled up but not hauled away.

Crap steel at the Venus mine
The main adit was sealed but is now open a bit. A monitor for little brown bats was at the mouth of it for a while in recent years.

he main adit at the Venus silver mine
I got back to the car at 4:10 – 2½ hours in total. From there, it’s not easy to get down to the lakeshore, but I wanted some new photos of the mill from that angle, and the ice intrigued me. Some rock scrambling and bushwhacking got me there.

The mill of the Venus mine
In the spring, the ice turns into long slender “candles” – I threw some rocks to break pieces off.

Candle ice on Windy Arm, Yukon
It was much too cold to go swimming, of course, but ahhhhh that water felt good!

Skinnydipping near the ice of Windy Arm in the spring
I had to go in to get some candle ice to show you.

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine
Candle ice is made up of candles as long as the ice is thick – so can be several inches long. When breakup happens, the candles sound rather like wind chimes as they bump into each other. I shot a video of it at Carcross 5 years so you can hear the sound – it’s at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASmIsh-q68w.

The trail to the Yukon's historic Venus silver mine

I headed home just after 5:00, very pleased with the way the day had gone. I had planned to have a new edition of my book about the Venus and other mines in the area out about now, but too many things got in the way. Oh well – some day…

On the way home, I stopped at Nares Lake at Carcross. At low water levels like we have now, it looks more like Nares Meadow.

Nares Lake at Carcross is more Nares Meadow at low water levels.


Comments

Hiking to the Yukon’s historic Venus silver mine — 6 Comments

  1. I cannot thank you enough for this latest round of pictures that you took of the Venus Mine . Dave and I are partners in the new Mine that we named Montana 1-8 . Here is his # Murry . 403-318-4919 . Dave Putnaerglis. He lives in Whitehorse and is the new owner of the Mine . Could you reach out to him ? He goes to Venus often and we are mining ore now . Samples of course . The assays are quite impressive. Thanks again , Hugh McCaffery .

  2. Oh Murry , we have the key to the gate and Dave takes his truck up the road . Maybe you can show him some of the ootcrops of quartz and also he is planning a run up to the Big Thing . Could you advise him about the washed out road and the right road to take . We would absolutely love to have you as a consultant on our adventure. Dave also has major claims in Dawson City and in Atlin . Thanks again Murry .

  3. In 2016 we were in Yukon and Alaska for 3 months with our RV. Whitehorse is favorite city. Nice rv park, great restaurants and easy drive to Skagway. Drove to Inuvik with our toad and then flew to Tuk. Road to Tuk not finished yet.

    Thanks for your postings and photos. Brings back so many great memories!

  4. As a flat-lander from Texas, I always enjoy your visual outings throughout Canada and the spectacular photos and colorful dialog you provide to add insight. All I can add is thank you for taking us along, and great work my friend.

  5. Bit of Bear Grylls going on there… ! Good visit to this mine, again…and thanks for the link for the ice…at lunch today, I plan to find my earphones for that video…

  6. Murray, thanks to your post here I now know the term “candle ice”, an ice type that I have seen on occasion around Anchorage. Thank you.