King's Throne and Kathleen Lake

Kluane National Park – King’s Throne

Kluane National Park

Located just a couple hours West of Whitehorse, Yukon, and spanning more than 22,000 square kms, Kluane National Park and Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is more than 80% mountains and ice, hosting the tallest peak in Canada—Mount Logan at 5959 m / 19551 feet.

King’s Throne Trail

To the Summit

Hours: 8-10 ( return)
Distance: 16 km / 10 mi (return)
Elevation Gain: 1250 m / 4101 feet
Difficulty: Difficult

To the Saddle

Hours: 4-5 (return)
Distance: 10 km / 6 mi (return)
Elevation Gain: 548 m / 1800 feet
Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult

King’s Throne is one of the more popular trails in the park, offering stunning views from above, regardless of which option you choose to take.


King's Throne and Kathleen Lake
Kathleen Lake is backed by the mighty King’s Throne. The ridgline dips on either side to form the “saddle,” which serves as the turn-back point for those not wishing to continue further up to the summit.

King’s Throne trail can be divided into two parts. The first part takes you up to the saddle/seat area, which offers a spectacular view of the expanse of Kluane National Park with Kathleen Lake right in front of you. For those that want to continue, the second part takes you up the ridge after a steep climb up the mountainside, takes you around the saddle, and up to the summit (on the right in the picture below).

King's Throne and Kathleen Lake
King’s Throne with Kathleen Lake at the bottom.

While I’m sure the second part would have provided for some epic views along the way, I opted to settle with the first part and took pictures of those who kept going to the summit.

Hiking to the Saddle

All photos seen here were taken during my hike up the mountain on August 31, 2019.

The start of the hike
The pathway from the parking lot that leads you into the trees.

From the parking lot, you walk along Kathleen Lake until you hit a junction point in the trail. Head left up towards the mountain to continue to the saddle. Turn right and walk down to get to the shores of Kathleen Lake.

First junction point in the trail.
First junction point in the trail. Go left for the King’s Throne.

The pathway continues further up until you hit a second junction point. Continue up the mountain on your left once you hit this point.

Second junction point
Second junction point in the trail. Go further up the hill for the King’s Throne.

The next section will have you walking through trees. It’s a steady climb up, and you are shaded by the tree canopy so the sun isn’t too intense at this point. Eventually you will reach the treeline where everything beyond that point is open, and you will find yourself waking on rocky slopes which switchbacks all the way up to the saddle.

Kathleen Lake as seen from the treeline.
Kathleen Lake as seen from the first clearing out from the treeline.
The real hike begins after reaching the treeline.
Looking up from the treeline you realize the real hike is just about to begin. The pathway largely switchbacks from here on in.

Climbing up the mountain

Note:

About 3/5 of the way up, I encountered one small section of the trail which proved to be fairly steep. It was the steepest point in the hike up to the saddle, and as it turns out, it was a turning point for some other hikers. I’ve never read of this section in any of the other hiking sites, so I will mention it here. For those of you who get vertigo like I do, this section may affect you.

The photo on the right isn’t taken exactly at this steep section, but gives you an indication of how steep certain slopes can get.

If you have your centre of gravity fairly low and climb this section at a steady pace, you should be fine—just don’t stop half way and look back. My problem at this point came because of my heavy backpack that had all of my camera gear in it. This meant that I had to have my chest pretty much all the way down touching the hiking path beneath me. With the added weight on my back, had I hiked normally up this section, I would have been at risk of falling backwards.

Once you bypass this section, the rest of the hike is fairly easy in comparison.


“If you have your centre of gravity fairly low and climb this section at a steady pace, you should be fine.”

Regardless of where you are in the hike, you’ll be presented with stunning foliage and vistas that will keep you motivated to go up all the way to the saddle. It’s really quite the sight.

Autumn beauty on the side of the mountain.
The beautiful autumn vegetation was screaming with reds and oranges. As you go higher up the path, fewer and fewer trees are visible.

Once you reach the saddle, take this chance to soak in the views, rest up a bit or have your lunch here. Click the photos below to enlarge.

To continue up to the summit, look left facing the mountain. You’ll see a trail that will lead to a steep climb up to the ridge line. I tried to go as far as I could, and at one point yet again, this pathway proved to be too steep for my comfort with my backpack.

The angle of incline is more than 45 degrees here.
The angle of incline can get quite steep as can be seen here.

But the views were fantastic!

Looking out as far up as I could climb on the ridge.
Looking at the view from as far up as I could go on the ridge.

I slowly made my way back down to the saddle and took some snaps of those before me who had gone all the way up. As I was taking photos, an ominous cloud was fast approaching, making for an even more dramatic scene. This was the optimal time to use the 300mm f/4.0 PF lens that I borrowed for this trip. It had the perfect reach, was so compact, and most importantly so light to carry.

As I shot the photo below, the mountain fell to shadow, as did the lone hiker. The partial bright sky was quickly disappearing from my view as the cloud started rolling in quickly from the right.

A silhouette of a hiker on a ridgeline
A hiker hiking up a ridge is silhouetted against the bright sky, as darker clouds started to roll in.

As the cloud moved away to the left, the light started to shine again, bringing in more detail on the mountainside. Below, I captured two hikers making their way up the ridge as two birds circled above them. You can get an idea of how long the hike is from how small the hikers are in comparison to the ridge.

A pair of hikers
A pair of hikers make their way up the ridge as the dark clouds roll above them.

If you’re not hiking all the way up to the summit, head back down the same way you got up. Going down is much easier, but still stressful on your knees. A hiking pole may benefit you at this point if you have one.

As I hiked carefully down the trail, I remember looking back at one point and seeing a hiker running down the ridgeline where I stopped and turned back down, as if it were nothing to him. He continued running down the rest of the way, eventually passing me on the trails.

King’s Throne is a great hike with some challenges, but offers spectacular sights once you reach the saddle. If you have a day to spare, this hike is highly recommended.

Have you hiked this mountain before? Let me know what your experience was below in the comments!

Kluane National Park - King's Throne
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