Yukon celebrates completion of its swath of the Trans Canada Trail

The Yukon is being touted as the third Canadian jurisdiction to complete its section of the Trans Canada Trail. The achievement was marked last weekend as part of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival.

The Yukon is being touted as the third Canadian jurisdiction to complete its section of the Trans Canada Trail.

The achievement was marked last weekend as part of the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Festival.

“Today’s milestone celebration in the Yukon is another important step toward the trail achieving full connection in time for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017,” said Melanie Joly, Canada’s heritage minister.

The final section of the trail, behind the Crestview subdivision, was actually completed last summer.

The Klondike Snowmobile Association maintains about 165 kilometres of the trail in the Yukon, both in Whitehorse and on the Dawson Overland Trail.

That includes cutting down willow trees and alders with hand tools in the summer time, as well as placing and replacing signs along the trail. When connecting existing trails, they sometimes have to widen the track or install water crossings.

In the winter, volunteers use their snowmobiles to pack the snow down with groomers.

Harris Cox is a member of the Klondike Snowmobile Association. Every year, he estimates that he travels about 5,500 kilometres on his snowmobile, from Braeburn all the way down to Annie Lake Road. Cox, 74, groomed trails for the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club before switching over to maintaining the Trans Canada Trail in 2000.

Last year, he was one of six Canadians to be featured in an ad campaign for the Trans Canada Trail. The series of six short videos were produced to mark National Volunteer Week in April .

On a typical day, Cox will take off from his home in Porter Creek riding his Skandic super-wide-track snowmobile and pulling a Mogul Master trail groomer.

He also brings an axe and a small folding saw for any branches hanging over the trail.

“I enjoy it out there,” he said.

“You’re in the elements and you get to see the weather changing. I’ve seen a fair share of wildlife on the trail, too, including wolves, black bears and coyotes.”

One of his favourite spots is partway up Mount McIntyre, where there is a nice viewpoint.

He likes to park his snowmobile, dig out his coffee cup and just let his mind wander, he said.

Cox said he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon, despite putting in six to 12 hours of work every time he goes out.

“I’ll groom the trails ‘till hell freezes over,” he said, “and then I’ll groom there, too.”

In the Yukon, the Trans Canada Trail is said to extend over more than 1,600 kilometres, although it is almost entirely comprised of pre-existing roads and trails.

It follows the Alaska Highway across the border with British Columbia toward Watson Lake, explained KSA president Mark Daniels. From there, it goes up to Jake’s Corner, then down the Tagish Road to Carcross.

It follows the South Klondike Highway up to the Carcross cut-off, where it reconnects with the Alaska Highway.

Near the Mary Lake subdivision it goes off the highway before it joins up with the Copper Haul Road, the “main line” of the Trans Canada Trail in Whitehorse.

Then, it links with the North Klondike Highway to the Takhini Hot Springs Road and the Takhini River Road until it goes up to Braeburn via the Dawson Overland Trail.

Finally, it connects to the corner of the Dempster Highway, which is considered part of the trail, and stretches all the way up to the border with the Northwest Territories.

The Klondike Snowmobile Association receives a stipend from the City of Whitehorse to maintain a few local trails, including the connector trail between Crestview and Porter Creek, Daniels said.

But it doesn’t receive any funding to maintain the Trans Canada Trail, beyond the dues collected from its members every year. “Some local businesses help us with donations of fuel or they help us maintain and fix our equipment,” Daniels said.

“We also want people to know that we’re not just a snowmobile organization. We’re a multi-use trail organization, so you don’t need to have a snowmobile to be a member.”

The Trans Canada Trail celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012.

When completed, the trail will stretch nearly 24,000 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans, linking Canadians in over 1,000 communities.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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