Canol Trail Question

Discussion in 'Alaska' started by Koach, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. Koach

    Koach Adventurer

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    Does anyone know how far east is it possible to go along the Canol Trail with a bike?
    I understand stream water levels and water current volumes vary continually during the summer depending on rainfall, etc. Even hikers sometimes have to turn back.
    Koach
    #1
  2. legion

    legion Honking the Horn

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    A local rider I know just made that run... I don't think he posts here though. Friar Mike knows him real well and might have an answer for you or be able to get one. I know the guy that went is a very competent rider and IIRC he wasn't all that pleased w/ that particular run.

    Something about conditions need to be perfect or the ride goes to hell.
    #2
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I backpacked this thing (222 miles) a few years back and it is rugged country.
    I think you could bike the first 50 miles from the Yukon border (near Old Squaw Lodge) to Godlin Lakes. The water is managable there but there are some hellacious rock slides. After that the trail is too steep on mountainsides or along rivers. Water varies with rain. You can ride from Whitehorse to the Yukon border to get on the trail.

    The other end (at Norman Wells) requires you either fly or barge (in season) to the town and then be ferried about four miles across the river to the trailhead. As I recall, there was some chest deep water near the start and a lot of soft low areas in the McKenzie River basin. From there you could go about 25 miles to the Carcajou River that you cannot cross with a bike. That leads into a rugged rocky canyon that evenutally gets to the Carcajou again.

    I don't see this as a motorcycle trip at all.

    While I was there 10 canadian soldiers had to be rescued in two separate incidents involving highwater. I also encountered four grizzly bears and a black bear and cub.

    I have a comprehensive report on paper (with pictures) and my text version and other reports with pix are posted to the web. Search for Canol Heritage Trail and look around. There is a pamphlet and a book out on the trail.
    #3
  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    http://canoltrail.tripod.com/

    My report is "My Trek on the Canol Heritage Trail" by Bryan Much. Read it and you will see that you won't go very far on a bike.

    I remember very steep and deep washouts that were hard enough to cross on foot, much less with a bike, even with multiple riders to wrestle them around.

    Lots and lots of water and rocks. As a rule, if water was thigh deep you had a good chance of being washed downstream - even if you were careful.

    The guides at Godlin Lakes rode horses in from the Yukon Border and then resupplied by air during their brief season. The folks at Oldsquaw Lodge near the Yukon border had a bike and an ATv for riding between their cabins in the local area around their lodge.

    Even though it can be wickedly hot on sunny days, it can sleet or snow any time.

    No matter what you do there is a river in the middle that is impassible unless you could build one hell of a raft - not likely.

    Resupply and rescue is by air and often it is a long way between potential landing sites.

    Take a look at some of the aerial photos on the web to see just how rugged this thing gets. Don't forget you are crossing mountains so the route is often restricted to river routes that are washed out or otherwise restricted.
    #4
  5. tango

    tango Adventurer

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  6. jetdoctor

    jetdoctor Master of the Obvious

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    Thanks for all of the info. I plan on doing most of the Canol's sections, and maybe a side trip. You could easily spend a week there. There is always the fuel problem though and even on a KLR I will need to carry extra fuel. I was suprised to find that from Watson Lake to Ross River is 240 miles with no fuel available.....If any of the pictures I have seen are any indication, this will be a cool part of my trip.

    Thanks,
    Doug
    #6
  7. bigjohnson

    bigjohnson tok,alaska

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    I did the north canol to nwt border 149 miles where the bridges are out, then the south canol from ross river to johnson crossing 140 miles, both on my 91 gs/pd great rods avoid the southroad if it rains as its clay.....
    #7
  8. hondav2

    hondav2 Kiwi Fukengruver

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    I dun it with big Johnson..Cheers toddy
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  9. TymeRider

    TymeRider Been here awhile

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    I just got home last weekend from a 3 week run up to Prudhoe Bay and back. On the way home I did the South Canol road from Johnsons Crossing to Ross River, and then the Campbell Highway from Ross River to Watson Lake. Did it on a KTM 950S. I was carrying spare fuel which I needed for the last leg into Prudhoe, but did not need for the 240 miles on the Campbell between Ross River and Watson Lake as it was nicely graded dirt with minimal curves and grades and could hold pretty steady 55-60mph. The South Canol road was actually the more interesting and beautiful of the two sections. Much more twisty and mountainous. Gorgeous country, mountains and lakes.

    I was wondering if doing the Canol trail north of the Yukon border was doable on a motorcycle. From this thread it looks like probably not unless you want a real adventure. I've been up to Inuvik on the Dempster on a previous trip. An intersting trip might be to ride to Wrigley on the Mackenzie River (via Fort Nelson or the Great Slave Lake area) and then float the bikes down to Arctic Red River where one could pick up the road to Inuvik, and then ride south on the Dempster. Would have to research the boat availability, but I'd be surprised if you could not line one up. On the Yukon there is a boat that goes between Dawson City and Eagle, AK that you can load a bike on.

    Doug
    #9