Hiking the Chilkoot Trail: A 4th-Grader’s Story


By Abigail Tidlow-Tranel
Editor’s Note: Before starting 4th grade, Abigail Tidlow-Tranel and her family spent five days backpacking the Chilkoot Trail -- a 33-mile-long hike that spans from Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Alaska, to a neighboring national park site in British Columbia. Abigail is one of the four million 4th graders (and their families) that get a free pass to federal lands and waters thanks to Every Kid in a Park. Read Abigail’s amazing experience of discovering this Alaska wilderness for the first time:

Last week I hiked the Chilkoot Trail with my family. It is 33 miles long, starting in Dyea, Alaska and ending in Bennett, British Columbia.

Mike and Mary Tranel pose with their two young girls in a mountainous area of the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska.
Abigail and her family pose with their backpacks on the Chilkoot Trail.

I was a little nervous when we started. Then when we got going I had a lot of fun. I thought it was better than Disneyland, because there is a lot of history, beautiful scenery, and lots of time with my family! The best part was hiking the Golden Stairs, which is like a huge pile of rocks on a really steep trail.

A young girl sits on a rock, one of many in a steep pile.
Abigail pauses while hiking up the Golden Stairs, a steep pile of rocks.

Some of the cliffs along the way were a little scary. I saw a frog and lots of ptarmigan. I saw many artifacts like horse bones, pieces of rope, old horse shoes, and a giant tram stopper that looks like a giant saw blade.

Two young girls sit on either side of a large rusted circle with saw-like blades.
Abigail and her sister Olivia pose with a giant rusted tram stopper in the shape of a large saw blade.

On the hike to Canyon City, which is a campground, I saw lots of salmon in the rivers and there was a thick forest. We had to make a lot of noise because we were in bear country.

A young girl kneels on a rocky trail next to a large rusted wheel partially covered by grass.
Abigail kneels on the Chilkoot Trail next to a large rusted wheel.

I live in Skagway, Alaska close to Dyea and I have a lot of fun where I live. This was my first time hiking the whole Chilkoot Trail. I loved it!!!!!!!!!!!

Mountains frame an inlet in Alaska
Taiya Inlet near Dyea. Photo by Micky McGilligan, www.sharetheexperience.org.

Are you a 4th-grade parent or teacher? Visit www.EveryKidInAPark.gov with your 4th grader to get your free year-long pass to federal lands and waters and start planning your outdoor adventure!

Abigail and her 4th-grade classmates hold their Every Kid in a Park passes.
Abigail and her 4th-grade classmates hold their Every Kid in a Park passes.