2015  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Denali AKA Mt. McKinley

 

   
 
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   HIKING TO THE SUMMIT OF GREY MOUNTAIN, 
OVERLOOKING WHITEHORSE & THE YUKON VALLEY

SATURDAY, JUNE 6

 
"Whether you are at the trailhead (the parking area) of the Grey Mountain Summit Trail   
or further along, it will become very clear why the term 'Wilderness City' is used to
describe Whitehorse. The adventurer will be treated to 360 views that dwarf the
city below as well as the surrounding forests, lakes, and rivers in the region."
 
~ from the online Whitehorse Recreational Trail Guide for Hikers & Cyclists
 
 
Grey Mountain dominates the view east of Whitehorse. I noticed it yesterday afternoon while we were driving along the road above Miles Canyon and immediately thought, "I wonder if there are any hiking trails to the top of that thing??"

That's just how I'm wired!


Grey Mountain, looking east from the Whitehorse side of the Yukon River

I discovered there is a nice trail on the summit but it starts at the end of a rough road that requires a high-clearance vehicle. Our pickup truck isn't a 4x4 so driving to the trailhead wasn't a good option.

There are several mountain bike trails that go up the west side of the mountain but I decided not to hike any of them today because I had Casey with me. I assumed on a Saturday there would be some kamikaze cyclists bombing down those trails. I might try one or more of them if we stop back here in the fall.

Today I just parked the truck in a pullout a little after the road got more narrow and rough

and hiked up the road with Casey to the TV tower parking lot where the summit trail begins. Out and back totaled nine miles. Here's how that played out . . .

CAN'T BELIEVE I DODGED THE RAIN

Despite a 40% chance of rain today the campground didn't get any, Jim didn't get wet when he rode his bike 25 miles around town this morning, and I had only a little sleet and snow on Grey Mountain while hiking with Casey.

We both made good use of our time today -- and enjoyed relaxing when done!

How I escaped getting wet is beyond my comprehension. I could see rain falling in three directions while on the ridge, some of it fairly close, and up/down the road from where I parked -- but I didn't get into any of it:


Rain to the southwest, about where our campground is located, but it didn't get wet either.


A good shower just south of me in the Yukon Valley

Above and below:  rain to the east, close to the ridge I was on

A couple minutes of sleet and snow on the ridge were a surprise, though.

I was hiking northbound along the summit to the first peak and all I could see in that direction was sunshine!


Grey Mountain has at least two high peaks. The trail undulates across the long ridge.
I would have gone farther on the ridgeline if I hadn't had six miles just on the road today.


Good girl!  Casey waits patiently while I take yet another picture.

Temps ranged from 39-64 F. in town and were surely cooler at close to 5,000 feet elevation on the ridge. The sun shining on the ridge kept me warm while I was up there.

ACCESSING THE SUMMIT TRAILHEAD

I drove across the Yukon River to the suburb of Riverdale and found Grey Mountain Rd.

I had no idea what the road was like until I began driving up. I discovered that it is smooth gravel/dirt for 4+ miles, then pretty rough for at least 3 miles. I drove only half a mile on the rough part before parking at the pull off for the Payback Trail, which is open to mountain bikes.

Here's a map from the website quoted above, with my route highlighted in yellow:

Casey and I walked three miles up the road to the trail on the ridge, three miles (total) out and back on the ridge to the first high peak, and three miles back down the road at the end = nine miles.

The TV tower at the beginning of the summit trail makes a good beacon both from the road below it

and from the summit above it, although it's hard to lose your way on a ridge where you have 360 views

The road walk wasn't real pleasant but there weren't very many vehicles going up/down either in the morning or afternoon and I had some nice views into the Yukon Valley:


Looking back at Whitehorse


View west toward Whitehorse and the mountains in the distance


The higher up, of course, the more expansive the views


Marsh Lake is in the distance but hard to see in this little picture.

There are lots of lakes in that valley above the river (upstream), and at least one other pretty lake in the valley on the other side of Grey Mountain:

HIKING ON THE RIDGE

The views were even more spectacular from the ridge because I had the total panorama from up there and could see all the way to Marsh Lake and beyond. I started at 2,852 feet elevation and topped out at 4,848 feet.

Once I got to the parking lot by the TV tower it was easy to find and follow the Summit Trail. Although there are a few short steep places and plenty of rocks it is generally easy to negotiate:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are two more shots down to the Yukon Valley and Whitehorse from the ridge:

 

I let Casey run free most of the time on the ridge trail. She loved the small snow banks we encountered and swam in a pool of water in a depression along the ridge:

 

She also got to play with another dog on the summit trail. I saw only eight people up on the ridge. I thought there would be more on a Saturday.

I enjoyed all the wildflowers along the road and trail -- blue lupines and mountain bluebells; pink, purple, and fuchsia vetch (sweet pea); yellow daisies, dandelions, and cinquefoil; white marsh marigolds; and other flowers up to about 4,000 feet:


Vetch

The ridge is in the sub-alpine and alpine zones above 4,000 feet. I saw lots of bright pink moss campion and white mountain avens up there:


Mountain avens


Moss campion

There were also some interesting lichens at the higher elevations:

 

I enjoyed this hike and would do it again, but probably go up one of the mountain bike trails instead of the road.

After I got back I walked Cody over a mile in the campground. If I could have driven up to the parking lot at the trailhead he could have gone on the summit hike, too.

Next entryscenes from in and near Whitehorse, including gorgeous Miles Canyon, the downtown river walk, the bike path along the Yukon River, Schwatka and Chadburn lakes, the dam and fish ladder, and more

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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