Canoe trips, Yukon River

Paddling from Carcross to Tagish

August 28, 2016

We arrived in Carcross fairly early in the morning. Bennett Lake was windy most days so we had started paddling early that morning to get to Carcross before the wind was too strong.  At Carcross there is a narrow section between Bennett Lake and Nares Lake where we paddled under the pedestrian bridge, the train bridge and the highway bridge to Skagway.  The rail bridge was the lowest and it restricts the size of boat that can get onto Bennett Lake which explains why we had only seen one motor boat in the whole five days on the lake.

We enjoyed the paddle down the calm Nares River and through Nares Lake. It was an amazing contrast between the blowing wind and waves we had just experienced on Bennett Lake and the stillness of this water downstream of Carcross.  Looking in the shallow water beneath the canoe we could see moose tracks crisscrossing the shallow lake.  The sheltered Nares Lake was also busier than Bennett Lake, we saw people out boating, cottagers and a few campers.

We stopped for lunch on Ten Mile Point at a First Nations fishing and hunting camp where the kids enjoyed playing on an old dock.



Ten Mile Point is the start of Tagish Lake, which is a big lake where the wind can get really strong like we had experienced on Bennett Lake.  As we paddled into Tagish Lake we soon had Windy Arm to the side of us.  As named the wind was blowing straight down Windy Arm and hitting us broadside.  We had hoped Bove Island, out in the middle of the lake, would provide a little shelter from the waves, but the water got very rough and we were soon forced to pull over as waves swamped the stern of the canoe.

Our campsite was on a narrow beach, but it was surprisingly sheltered from the strong wind. We had a nice evening and the kids enjoyed playing with their toys in the hammock.  The wind kept howling until after we fell asleep.  We woke up at 1:30 am and listened to the wind blowing and the waves crashing on the shore.  We hoped not to be wind bound, but it didn’t look promising.


We woke up again at 4:30 am and it was calm. Dwane jumped out of the tent while I dragged myself out and we started packing up camp.  We didn’t want to go back to sleep and wait for the wind to start blowing again.  Luckily the kids were good sports about getting up so early and they thought it was a treat to eat granola bars for breakfast.  We were happy we had gotten an early start because even as we paddled into the sheltered narrows we felt the wind increasing out on the lake behind us.  It was a relief to get away from Windy Arm!




Through the Tagish Lake narrows we saw three porcupines and a lynx. The first porcupine was sleeping in a tree so we stopped the boat and got out to take a look.  The next two porcupines were on the shore and we stopped paddling to watch them while they watched us.  The lynx allowed us to get quite close to it in the canoe.  It seemed just as interested in watching us as we enjoyed watching it.  There were a lot more moose tracks, but still no actual moose.  It was a very nice peaceful paddle.  At times I felt like we were paddling through the sky as the clouds were perfectly reflected on the flat calm water.


The north end of Tagish Lake is covered with houses lining the shore. As we approached the first house the wind started picking up so I unfolded the Wind Paddle sail for the first time and we had fun sailing down to the end of the lake in the strong wind.  Sailing was a good break from paddling, but being our first time it was still intense and my arms ached by the time I put away the sail from holding the lines so tightly.  At the end of the lake the wind got really strong and the waves were big.  Molly laughed out loud at each big wave, especially the ones that splashed over the side and got us wet.  Conversely, the big waves rocked Chuck to sleep.

Finally, we rounded the point into the calm water of Six Mile River. Halfway down Six Mile River Molly woke Chuck up from his nap because she wanted someone to play with.  Of course that backfired as cranky Chuck started annoying her and they started fighting about 30 seconds later.  Dwane and I were burnt out after two big paddling days.  We knew about Six Mile River Resort only a few kilometers away and decided that we all needed a break.

We rented a rustic old log cabin decorated with vintage treasures for the night. In fact the whole resort was decorated with old collections, licence plates, fishing reels, outboard engines, stoves, guns, antlers.  Everywhere we looked was a different collection.  We enjoyed our break at the resort and took full advantage of it by actually resting.  We realized that it was our wedding anniversary so we had a celebratory dinner of yummy pizza out on the resort’s patio.  It was almost as if we’d planned it!


To read about the previous leg of our trip click here.

To read the next leg of our trip click here.