35 km of multi-use trails coming to Dawson City, Yukon

The town of Dawson City has ambitious plans for the next decade: develop and maintain more than 35 kilometres of motor-friendly and non-motor-friendly trails, catering to hiking, mountain bikes, ATVs and dirtbikes.

Trail management plan includes more than 35 km of maintained trails

A hiker strolls along the Moosehide Trail with views of downtown Dawson City in the background. (submitted by Derek Crowe)

Dawson City is the latest Yukon community to join a growing trend: developing a network of trails that cater to a variety of users, including tourists.

This spring the town released the Dawson Trail Management Plan 2016-2025, a study that includes months of information collected from trail users, as well as assessments of the trails that are currently in the community. 

"We thought, before we go ahead and build more trails, let's do an inventory and plan first," said Marta Selassie, manager of recreation with the town.

The Crocus Bluff viewing deck is the main attraction in a dense network of single-track trails close to Dawson City's downtown core. The trails are among those to be upgraded for improved accessibility by non-motorized users and better connections to residential areas downtown and on the Dome. (submitted by Derek Crowe)

Selassie said the town learned a lot about how residents use the trails, like how many residents walk on the Dome Road instead of on the trails because they worry about bear encounters.

"The Dome has, as everybody knows, a lot of bear traffic on it," she said. 

Selassie said that concern could be addressed by making sure that trails there have clear lines of sight.

The plan envisions a well-maintained core network of 25 kilometres of non-motor-friendly trails and more than 10 kilometres of motor-friendly, multi-use trails. The 25 kilometres of trails would be mostly narrow, single-track trails and of those, about half would involve the restoration of historic trails. The other half would include new and upgraded, existing trails.

Part of the Dome Dive Project, the construction of more advanced mountain bike trails on the Dome by Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in youth. The draft plan incorporates some of these trails into the community's network. (submitted by Derek Crowe)

Selassie said the trial study revealed the trails are heavily used by many different user groups, although she recognizes that many of those trails have not been maintained.

"Dawson has quite an extensive trail network, many of which are not actively managed by anybody or looked after by anybody at the moment. The hope is that we'll adopt some of these into a trail network and start looking at them."

Selassie said the first task is putting up signs, then getting applications in for some federal and territorial funding. 
She said the town consulted with the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, and hopes the First Nation will partner with the town on the trail project.

Selassie adds that Dawson hopes to offer the trail network to tourists as part of their "Dawson City experience."

An example of the overgrown, historic trails around the Dawson City area. This one is believed to be the cutline for the original townsite boundary surveyed in 1900. The plan aims to restore some of these trails and incorporate them into the new network. (submitted by Derek Crowe)