CHILKOOT TRAIL – HIKING & HISTORY BOOKS

Chilkoot Pass: The Most Famous Trail in the North

This popular guide describes the history of the famous Chilkoot Trail, called “the meanest 32 miles in history,” and details equipment to take, trail etiquette, and mile-by-mile trail information for hikers.

Birdshooter’s Take: There are very few books that provide detailed trail information on the Chilkoot Trail. Most people rely on information from the National Park Service or Parks Canada for details (and I suggest that you do the same), but this book provides both trail information and a great deal of history. My Recommendation: Get it. The book is a one stop shop for everything you will need on the Chilkoot Trail.

Klondike : The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896-1899

With the building of the railroad and the settlement of the plains, the North West was opening up. The Klondike stampede was a wild interlude in the epic story of western development, and here are its dramatic tales of hardship, heroism, and villainy. We meet Soapy Smith, dictator of Skagway; Swiftwater Bill Gates, who bathed in champagne; Silent Sam Bonnifield, who lost and won back a hotel in a poker game; and Roddy Connors, who danced away a fortune at a dollar a dance. We meet dance-hall queens, paupers turned millionaires, missionaries and entrepreneurs, and legendary Mounties such as Sam Steele, the Lion of the Yukon. Pierre Berton’s riveting account reveals to us the spectacle of the Chilkoot Pass, and the terrors of lesser-known trails through the swamps of British Columbia, across the glaciers of souther Alaska, and up the icy streams of the Mackenzie Mountains. It contrasts the lawless frontier life on the American side of the border to the relative safety of Dawson City. Winner of the Governor General’s award for non-fiction, Klondike is authentic history and grand entertainment, and a must-read for anyone interested in the Canadian frontier.

Birdshooter’s Take: This is basically a history book of the Klondike and not a trail book. My Recommendation: There’s a number of good history books on the Klondike Gold Rush which always includes an account of the Chilkoot Trail and the town of Skagway, AK. This is one of them.

Hiking With Ghosts: The Chilkoot Trail, Then and Now (Raincoast Journeys)

Readers who have enjoyed the Raincoast Journeys series will rejoice at this sixth volume. Hiking With Ghosts: The Chilkoot Trail, Then and Now follows Frances Backhouse and photographer Adrian Dorst as they hike the legendary Chilkoot Trail. As they experience the sights and sounds of the trail, so does the reader. The two delve into the rich history of a region that saw massive migration of fortune seekers during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Birdshooter’s Take: Hiking With Ghosts provides both a 19th and 20th century look at the Chilkoot Trail and breaks each section of the trail down in detail. It also provides some recommendations for the modern day trekker and suggestions for your hike on the trail. My Recommendation: This is not just a history book but a modern day look at the trail. Consider it or Chilkoot Pass: The Most Famous Trail in the North which is detailed at the top of this page.

Chilkoot Trail, Heritage Route to the Klondike: 1996

In 1896, gold was discovered in the Yukon’s Klondike. To get there, stampeders hiked the legendary Chilkoot Trail, packing their gear almost straight up and over a formidable mountain pass linking the Alaskan coast and the Yukon interior. Thousands of gold-fevered stampeders attempted the perilous journey in the depths of a northern winter. Not all of them made it. Now historians from Parks Canada and U.S. National Park Service have co-authored a well illustrated, in-depth look at the dramatic history of what is now an international historic site and popular recreational trail. Chilkoot Trail, Heritage route to the Klondike, looks past the gold rush to its origins as an important trade route thousands of years ago, and examines First Nations use of the area today. A timely volume, published in the 100th year after gold was discovered in the Klondike.

Birdshooter’s Take: This is basically a history book of the Klondike and not a trail book. My Recommendation: There’s a number of good history books on the Klondike Gold Rush which always includes an account of the Chilkoot Trail and the town of Skagway, AK. This is one of them.

White Fang and Call of the Wild (Signet Classic)

Two of London’s famous wilderness tales available in one volume. White Fang and The Call of the Wild illuminate the often tragic consequences of the conflict between nature and civilization, and yet reward readers with amazing, rousing adventure stories.

Birdshooter’s Take: Jack London wrote this classic based on his experiences on the Chilkoot Trail and his attempts to reach the goldfields of the Klondike. Hollywood also made the movie White Fang based on this book. Whether you choose to read the book or watch the movie, both will get you in the right frame of mind for a week on the Chilkoot Trail. My Recommendation: This is a classic book (and required reading in many high schools) whether you hike the Chilkoot Trail or not.

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