The search for gold has always fascinated people. In ancient times, alchemists tried to turn lead into the more valuable metal, but other people have tried more traditional methods. When three American prospectors heard rumours of gold in the Klondike River, they travelled to the Yukon and sparked the famous Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98. Almost 800 of the 1500 gold seekers who joined the rush started out on Alberta’s Klondike Trail between Edmonton and Grouard. Only about 160 of them ever reached the Yukon, and even fewer found the wealth they sought. When war and other troubles ended the gold rush, only the trails leading to the newly-founded Dawson City, now an official Parks Canada Historic Site, remained.
Alberta’s Klondike Trail, sometimes called Chalmers Trail, celebrates the history of the gold rush. While much of the original 250-mile route has disappeared, parts are still visible in areas like the Sandhills Wilderness Park near Fort Assiniboine. The fort was once a resting-place for prospectors on their way to the Yukon, and a nearby grave dating from 1898 still attests to the difficult conditions prospectors endured, as do the Dead Horse Meadows next to the fort.
Travelling the Klondike Trail is like looking into the past. While hiking and horseback riding are available in the Sandlands Wilderness Park, most visitors may prefer to follow the trail of the prospectors whose trials and triumphs made the Klondike Trail famous.
|1||Edmonton to St. Albert||30 min||15 km|
|1||St Albert to Fort Assiniboine||1 hr 45 min||145 km|
|2||Fort Assiniboine to Peace River||3 h 40 min||337 km|