In Even Numbered Years The Race Starts in Fairbanks
The distances given are based on the 2009 trail; along some of the river trails, distances may vary slightly from year to year.
Fairbanks to Two Rivers checkpoint: (approx. 72 miles)
From the start line you will be traveling thru downtown Fairbanks and parts of Fort Wainwright on the Chena River. The river is well-traveled and there be more than one trail choice. Stay on the Chena. Houses will change to cabins and become sparse. You pass under the Nordale Road Bridge 17 miles out. 5 1/2 miles further you will leave the Chena R. on the left-hand side. The trail takes you around some fields and on to a well-used trail that runs predominately east. This is the Baseline Trail. You will have several road-crossings, (more like well-used driveways), along this trail. Approximately 10 - 15 miles along this you will begin to encounter more housing, and occasional dog yards—you are entering the Pleasant Valley area. A left turn 15 miles along the baseline will put you on the Pleasant Valley Rd. You will run this road to the Chena Hotsprings Road, turn right and parallel that road past Pleasant Valley Store, (did you forget anything?), a Laundromat and several other businesses. The store is just about 40 miles from the start line. You will be on a well-traveled trail for the next 35 miles. Three miles past the store you will cross the Chena Hotspring’s Road. Expect overflow at creek crossings. You cross under the Hotsprings road 24 miles out, then again 28 miles out. 2 miles past Angel Creek Lodge is the Mile 52 Chena Hotsprings Rd. checkpoint.
Mile 52 Chena Hotsprings Road to Mile 101: (approx. 41 miles)
You are in an area with recreational cabins and numerous driveways for about 3 miles before turning more northerly up the N. Fork of the Chena River. Expect more overflow as you climb gradually up the trail that parallels the N.F. 17 miles out of the checkpoint you climb steeply up to Boulder Summit. Rosebud Ridge is usually rocky, you are on top, (above timber), for about 3 or 4 miles as you traverse Boulder then Rosebud Summits. Boulder Summit is well-named, Rosebud is not. Expect wind, poor visibility and poor braking conditions. A gradually 5 mile descent thru the trees lands you in the Birch Cr. drainage. The trail follows along the side of Birch Cr. crossing several small drainages—again---expect overflow. The trail gradually improves as you approach the 101 checkpoint. 7 miles from 101 you will come up to the side of the Steese Highway and parallel that road into the checkpoint. You are in a mining district so expect tailing piles, gravel and some glare ice. Parking at 101 can be tight; come prepared for windy conditions here. Snow cover may be minimal. You are 112 miles from town.
Mile 101 to Central: (approx. 28 miles)
Leaving 101 you will be traveling thru an active mining area; lots of gravel and glare ice for the first 3-4 mile. It’s 6 miles to Eagle Summit; the last few miles will be windblown tundra, not overly steep from this side. There are 13 tripods in place to lead you up and over the ridge. You will be on top for less than ¼ mile before you begin a very steep descent, snow will be windblown with poor braking on this drop, A few hundred yards from the top on your descent will be a dogleg to the right. Don’t miss this! Contour over a few hundred yards, slightly climbing to a bump on the ridgeline, from there the trail heads straight down to tree line. Expect lousy braking and rutted conditions. You will survive; usually the little worse for wear. The trail continues to wind down into Mammoth Cr., usually overflows. You will cross the Steese 13 miles from 101 and again be in and out of mining areas and a burn. 2 miles from Central you come up on the Steese and run along the road for a short distance, dive off the left-side to avoid a blind corner, than back on the road into the Central checkpoint. Good facilities and parking. You are 140 miles out.
Central to Circle City: (approx. 75 miles)
Leaving Central you will follow the Circle Hotsprings road for 8 miles. From the Hotsprings airstrip it’s 11 miles across Medicine Lake and thru the swamps to Birch Cr. (Expect temperatures on Birch Cr. to be 15 degrees colder than Central). 30 miles on Birch Cr. you pass under the Steese Highway Bridge. Carl Cochrans place is just beyond the Bridge. This may or may not be open, parking tight. It’s roughly 17 miles on Birch Cr. from the bridge to the exit on the north bank; 8 more miles to the Circle checkpoint. ¼ mile from the checkpoint you will come up on the road----follow it to the checkpoint. Parking is fair; facilities are good. It’s almost always cold here. You are 215 miles from the start.
Circle City to Eagle, Alaska: (approx. 163-167 miles)
Immediately after leaving the Circle checkpoint you will be routed onto the Yukon. Conditions along this river vary considerably from one year to the next. The trail will cross the river a few times, you will possibly be off of the Yukon for short stretches, depending on ice conditions. Brian Asplund’s cabin is at 21 mile, south bank at the mouth of a slough. It is rough but has a stove. Richard Smith’s is 43 miles out of Circle, on the left bank of the Yukon. There is firewood and good parking. 17 miles beyond Smith’s is Slaven’s Roadhouse, excellent facilities for mushers; parking for dogs is only fair. You can pass this stop by staying on the river trail, with the bypass trail rejoing in approx ¼ mile. It is 23 miles from Slavens to the mouth of the Kandik and its’ cabin. You are a long 80 out of Circle. The next landmark of note will be across from the Nation River at the mouth of 4th of July Cr. (27 from Kandik) There will be a fish rack on the Yukon and a side trail leading off the Quest Trail up a slough 1 mile to the Henry’s place. 9 miles further is Trout Creek (45 miles from Eagle) and Mike Sager’s cabin. This is good stop with sheltered parking, though more than 6 teams is crowded. Trout Cr. is off of the main trail—there is a sign and the trail is a short loop thru. Above Trout Cr. there are a few portage possibilities. We usually take only one; that from the mouth of the 70-mile River skirting behind Calico Bluffs. Departing this portage you pass through Andy and Kate’s homestead, you are 12 miles from town. As you approach Eagle, you will either see the town or the lights of town a couple miles out. The Eagle checkpoint has good parking for dogs and excellent facilities for mushers. You are 382 miles from Fairbanks and 152 miles from Dawson City, Yukon.
Eagle to Dawson City: (approx. 150 miles)
Leaving Eagle you will be on the Taylor Highway for a short 50 miles---there are mile posts; Eagle is Milepost 162. You have some potentially nasty glaciers along the road for the first 10 miles. About 20 miles of gradual climbing from Eagle will take you up on American Summit. Expect wind, some gravel, sidehill conditions and poor visibility. You will be above timber for about 4 miles. Mile 138 will have you back in the trees, under cover. Winding road, ups and downs until you reach the 40-Mile Bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge you drop down onto the 40-Mile River. Expect it to be cold. Sometimes overflow, but a normally fast trail for the next 45 miles. Approximately halfway down the 40-mile to its confluence with the Yukon, you will cross into Canada. The 40-Mile is in a deep canyon for most of the way; expect little sun. Clinton Cr. is 41 miles from the Bridge and 4 miles above the confluence of the Yukon and the 40-Mile Rivers. Good hospitality. The old town of 40 Mile also is a great hospitality stop and has excellent cover for dogs. Just out of 40-Mile, you jump on the Yukon for the final 50-odd miles to Dawson. The trail crosses back and forth along the Yukon depending on ice conditions. There may be some short portages. Cor Guimond’s cabin is 38 miles from Dawson and the 15-Mile River (recognizable because there is almost always overflow at the mouth), about 20 miles from Dawson. The checkpoint at Dawson is in the middle of town. After checking in, you will be directed to the dog holding area which is about a half-mile away across the river. You are about 550 miles from Fairbanks and about 450 miles from the finish line.
Dawson City to Pelly Crossing: (205-210 miles)
Watch your markers leaving town; you are on the Yukon for a short distance, then up the Klondike R. for a mile or so, before crossing several parking lots and driveways before turning right into the Klondike mining district. You will travel a plowed road for some distance---varying from year to year; you will exit this road to the left; very well-marked, and enter a narrower mining road that is almost never plowed……easy road grade, but a steady climb to the top of King Solomon Dome---25 miles out. You will see a lighted communications tower on your left not far off of the trail; just past that, beginning the downgrade off the Dome, there is a 120 degree turn to your right; if you miss this turn you are sleeping---there are trees across trail and dozens of stakes---some may be down if you are not the first to reach there……. A long downgrade (with overflows) brings you to the Indian River bridge; mile 50. Cold spot. You are entering the Black Hills; some long winding climbs, overflow and there can be sporadic drifting as you climb. Climbs are road-grade, trail is good. As you summit---the drop toward the Stewart R. and the Scroggie Cr. dog drop is into another fairly active mining district. The notable landmark is a series of switchbacks coming out of the Black Hills. There are 13 if you are awake, 9-- if you are not. It is 25 miles from the bottom of the switchbacks to Scroggie Cr. overflow. 3 miles from the Dog drop you will be on the Stewart R. Climb the bank again and you are there. Marginal facilities, limited parking, cold. 105 miles from Dawson. 70 to the hospitality stop at Stepping Stone.
The trail from Scroggie to Stepping Stone is again on the mining roads. Overflow. Few recognizable landmarks, though Jane Cr. Summit is about half-way; you are not above timber, but the spruce are somewhat sparse…. A few miles prior to Stepping Stone, you go past Pelly Farms, (cows), and drop onto the Pelly River. Stepping Stone has excellent hospitality, cold water, good dog parking. 35 miles to Pelly. Normally you will be on the Pelly River all of the way to Pelly Crossing---some years you may have to jump onto the plowed road that leads to Pelly Farm if the River conditions are poor. You go under the bridge to the checkpoint at Pelly; the checkpoint has been in various places over the years, but the hospitality and parking have always been very good. You are 770 miles from Fairbanks and about 240 from Whitehorse.
Pelly Crossing to Carmacks: (75-80 miles)
You will leave Pelly on a plowed road that quickly turns unmaintained and then into trails. Varying conditions of mostly flat running, (2 lakes about half-way), will take you 25 miles to the Klondike Highway still some 7 miles from the dogdrop at McCabe Cr. You follow the highway to McCabe Cr. and normally cross under the bridge before getting on a short plowed road to the stop at McCabe. Hospitality is excellent, parking for dogs is fair. There is water available. You are 32 miles from Pelly---44 or so to Carmacks. Cross the Yukon out of McCabe; you will get into a recent burn, the trail is on and off of the Yukon; ice may be rough. Much of this trail will be firebreaks; straight and unremarkable. Snow cover may be light on some of the grades. 15 miles from Carmacks you will come onto the Freegold Road. It is seldom plowed and excellent running the rest of the way in. As you approach Carmacks you will reach a hilly section; short grades. You will reach Pelly and travel thru town for a short mile to the Checkpoint. Parking is somewhat exposed, facilities are good for mushers. You are about 845 miles from Fairbanks and 170-od from the finish.
Carmacks to Braeburn: (70-75 miles)
You leave Carmacks on the Yukon---under the Bridge then onto bush trails. There are some challenging short hills; you will be on and off of the Yukon R. 25-28 miles out you are on Mandana Lake; this is the beginning of the Chain of Lakes. These lakes have numerous portages and some overflow; they provide some great trail and some very good resting spots. 17 miles from Braeburn you reach Cogland Lake; you are on this Lake for 7 miles, once off; you climb a steep bank---it is 10 miles to Braeburn. Cross the Klondike Highway and you are at the checkpoint. It is 100 miles to the finish. Parking is good, facilities for mushers are excellent.
Braeburn to the Finish: (100 miles)
From Braeburn to town, the trail is mixed timber with a few lakes, (early), creek crossings, etc. Excellent trail, sometimes low snow. 70 miles along you reach the Tahkini River. You are 30 miles from town---18 miles of twisting river takes you, [under the Klondike Highway bridge], to the confluence of the Tahkini and the final 12 mile run on the Yukon to the Finish. 1015 miles; give or take.