WHITEHORSE TO FAIRBANKS DIRECTION
Please note that if you wish to physically follow the race, check out information in our Volunteer Section.
The Yukon Quest dog sled trail follows historic Gold Rush and Mail Delivery routes from the turn of the 20th Century. Eleven checkpoints lie along the Yukon Quest trail including the Start and Finish, some more than 200 miles apart.
WHITEHORSE TO BRAEBURN (100 miles/ 161 km)
Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, the Yukon’s capital city is the starting point of the race (First Avenue). The Yukon River runs through Whitehorse’s downtown core. Whitehorse is home to the Ta’an Kwäch’än and Kwanlin Dun First Nations. The city was long a staging point for shipping and transportation to the goldfields of the Klondike.
This portion of the trail runs on the Old Dawson Trail, today part of the Trans Canada Trail. Teams can be seen following the trail under the Takhini River bridge, at kilometre 4.5 of the North Klondike Highway (Mayo Road).
BRAEBURN TO CARMACKS (77 miles/ 124 km)
Braeburn Lodge, famous for its very large cinnamon buns, has been an official checkpoint since 1999. Mushers can choose to take a mandatory 4 hour layover either here or at the next checkpoint, Carmacks.
Upon leaving Braeburn, the trail takes the mushers deep into the bush and along a chain of lakes. They can next be seen as they arrive at Carmacks.
CARMACKS TO PELLY CROSSING (73 miles/118 km)
Carmacks, population 450, was named for George Carmack, one of the original discoverers of gold in the Klondike in 1896. Situated on the Yukon River, the community is in the traditional territory of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation.
Yukon Quest dog teams can be seen traveling along the Freegold Road as they leave Carmacks. Mushers can choose to take a mandatory 4 hour layover here or at the previous checkpoint, Braeburn. The teams can next be seen along the Klondike Highway in the Minto area, as they head for the hot moose stew at McCabe Creek, about 34 miles from Pelly. A working farm, McCabe Creek is an official dog drop.
PELLY CROSSING TO DAWSON CITY (201 miles/324 km)
Pelly Crossing with a population of 350 was the village along the Pelly River which first got involved as a checkpoint for the Yukon Quest during the 1996 race. The town’s main industries are fishing and tourism. Pelly Crossing is in the traditional territory of the Selkirk First Nation.
Mushers and their teams climb through the Black Hills, a series of rolling knolls until they reach the rustic Scroggie Creek dog drop, 99 miles (159 km) from Pelly Crossing. Then it’s down a mining road to the cabins at Stepping Stone, where teams often stop for a hot meal and a rest. Near Dawson City, the trail winds up 4,002-foot King Solomon’s Dome, with the only trail viewing possible, from the air.
DAWSON CITY TO EAGLE (147 miles/237 km)
Dawson City, population 1,876 was the site of the Klondike gold rush at the turn of the last century, Dawson City has a unique character. Many miners still spend the summer scouring for gold in the surrounding hills and creeks. Dawson City is in the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation. Considered the halfway point in the race, this is the only location where mushers may receive outside help. Handlers arrive early and pick a spot in the Yukon Government campground across the Yukon River. Some set up elaborate camps for their teams, and the race veterinarians set up shop in a cooking shelter. Access to the campground may be restricted to certain times, at the discretion of the race officials.. Mandatory layover: 36 hours.
At the confluence of the Fortymile and the Yukon Rivers is the historic townsite of Fortymile, where the teams might stop after running 50 miles down the Yukon River from Dawson City. Then the teams travel up American Summit and then it is about 18 miles into Eagle.
EAGLE TO CIRCLE CITY (159 miles/256 km)
On the Yukon River, Eagle, population 115, is accessible only by air, snow machine or dog team in the winter. The Yukon Quest is one of the biggest events of the winter for area residents, and they come out in full force to support the race.
The trail follows the flat, sometimes soft, sometimes icy, Yukon River. The route is exposed to wind, and markers may be blown over or hard to spot, especially at night. About half-way, mushers travel past the cabin of Charlie Biederman, a legendary figure in the Yukon Quest, who died in 1995.
CIRCLE CITY TO CENTRAL (74 miles/119 km)
With a population of 73, Circle City, on the Yukon River, is the most northerly point on the race. It was the site of a major gold rush as well as a supply stop for prospectors. The first phone system in Alaska was installed here. It claims to be the largest log cabin city in the state.
At Mile 147 Steese, from Circle City, teams can be seen as they travel under the Birch Creek Bridge. It is 30 miles of narrow winding road between Central and Circle City. Mushers travel over 70 miles of taiga and frozen swamps after leaving the banks of the Yukon River. As you travel towards Arctic Circle Hot Springs, you can view the teams right after they leave Central.
CENTRAL TO TWO RIVERS (115 miles/184 km)
With a population of 113 and at the heart of the Central Mining District, Central is the base for a number of placer mining operations. Teams rest here after the trip over Eagle Summit. Nearby Arctic Circle Hot Springs has been a popular gathering spot for tourists and locals since the late 1800s.
Once the teams leave Central, they aren’t visible from the highway again until Mile 94 on the Steese Highway. Mile 101 is a dog drop. Mushers like to rest their teams here and warm up after the steep climb over the famous 3,650-foot Eagle Summit. Dog teams can be seen at Mile 116 before they start up Eagle summit. They can also been seen at Mile 106 as they come down off the summit, and at the Dog Drop at 101 Mile.
TWO RIVERS TO FAIRBANKS (33 miles/53 km)
With a population of 84,979, Fairbanks is Alaska’s second-largest city and is a start/finish point for the Yukon Quest.
Two Rivers is a new checkpoint held at the Twin Bears campground. Teams will have an 8-hour mandatory layover here. Six miles from the checkpoint teams will cross the Chena Hot Springs road. The trail runs parallel to the road past Two Rivers store and turns left to run down Pleasant Valley road. Teams will cross under the Nordale Road Bridge in North Pole about ½ mile after reaching the Chena---18 miles to downtown Fairbanks.