Silver Trail Yukon Travel Guide
Epic Road Trip: Stewart Crossing to Keno City the smallest town in the Yukon
Table of Contents
- 1 Explore the Historic Silver Trail Yukon
- 2 Brief History
- 3 Road Conditions
- 4 The Journey
- 4.1 Stewart Crossing
- 4.2 Km 0 – Start of the Silver Trail
- 4.3 Km 10 – Devil’s Elbow
- 4.4 50 – Mayo Bridge
- 4.5 Km 51 – Mayo
- 4.6 Km 57 – Five Mile Lake
- 4.7 Km 60 – Wareham Lake
- 4.8 Km 64 – Minto Bridge
- 4.9 Km 69 – Junction Minto Lake Road and Duncan Creek/Mayo Lake Road
- 4.10 Duncan Creek Road
- 4.11 Km 76 – Turnoff for Mount Haldane trail
- 4.12 Km 76.4 – Halfway Lake
- 4.13 Km 87 – South McQuesten River Road
- 4.14 Km 96 – Elsa
- 4.15 Km 101 – Sideroad turnoff
- 4.16 Km 110 – Keno City
- 5 Keno Hill Signpost
- 6 Useful Tips
Explore the Historic Silver Trail Yukon
The Silver Trail winds through the traditional territory of the First Nation of Na-Cho-Nyäk Dun (Big River People). It is the perfect side trip to experience Yukon’s wilderness and mining history.
The Distance from Stewart Crossing to Keno City is approximately 110 km which makes it an easy day trip.
If you have a Yukon Explorer’s Passport, the Binet House in Mayo and the Keno Mining Museum in Keno are considered two of the most exclusive passport stamps.
Communities on the Silver Trail
- Stewart Crossing – Getaway to the Silver Trail
- Mayo – Historic sites
- Keno City – Historic frontier town
Mayo and Keno City were once bustling mining towns. Prospectors found gold on the banks of the Stewart River in 1885. In 1902, a gold strike on Duncan Creek brought in more miners. A rich vein of silver was discovered in 1903. It took many years before the hard rock claims were developed.
By 1915, winter roads were leading up all the major mining creeks. All winter, horses hauled silver ore from the Keno hill mines down to the Mayo sternwheeler landing. All the ore was transported from Mayo to Whitehorse by sternwheeler until 1950 when an all-season road was constructed.
Today, many artifacts, old buildings, rusty equipment and monuments still dot the landscape from a time gone by.
Only travel through this remote region if you have a sense of adventure.
The Silver Trail is an all-season road. The road is asphalt-surfaced to Mayo and gravel from Mayo to Keno City.
- Stewart Crossing
Stop at the Silver Trail Yukon Visitor Cabin at Stewart Crossing, across from the Stewart Crossing Gas station.
The Information Centre seems to be closed most of the time. Check out the information rack outside the entrance and pick up the excellent pamphlets about the area.
Stewart Crossing is the gateway to the Silver Trail Yukon. This small community was serviced by the Stewart River sternwheelers and the Overland Trail winter stages until 1950 when the road was completed between Whitehorse and Mayo.
Km 0 – Start of the Silver Trail
The Silver Trail starts at the north end of the Klondike Highway bridge over the Stewart River.
Km 10 – Devil’s Elbow
A short interpretive trail leads up a steep bank to a viewing lookout over the Devil’s Elbow wetland. There is a chance to see moose and waterfowl.
50 – Mayo Bridge
Excellent fishing from the bridge for grayling.
Km 51 – Mayo
Located on the banks of the Stewart River, Mayo is a thriving regional centre that serves tourism, outfitting, and mining. Population: 450.
Mayo offers all the essential visitors services along the Silver Trail.
Visit the Binet House to see exhibits about the geology and history of the area plus an interesting display of early medical equipment, including the first iron lung ever made.
Get your Yukon Explorer’s Passport stamped here. Pick up a brochure and take a historic walking tour around town.
Km 57 – Five Mile Lake
Five Mile Lake Campground and Day-use Area is a good place to swim and hike
Km 60 – Wareham Lake
A hydro dam created Wareham Lake, allowing for the growth of the United Keno Hill Mine operation. There is a hiking trail to the top of Mount Haldane from here.
Km 64 – Minto Bridge
Information panels, hiking trails and an excellent place for bird watching.
This small settlement was flooded when the Wareham Lake power dam was constructed. Some of the old buildings are still being used on the nearby farm.
Km 69 – Junction Minto Lake Road and Duncan Creek/Mayo Lake Road
You can reach Minto Lake by driving 19 km on a narrow seasonal road. Good fishing for Arctic Grayling, Lake Trout and Northern Pike. This was an early route to Dawson City.
Duncan Creek Road
The 40 km Duncan Creek Road was the original Silver Trail. It was used to haul silver ore from Keno to Mayo landing. Now it is a back road into Keno City and to Mayo Lake. Inquire in Mayo or Keno City about the road conditions before you head that way.
Km 76 – Turnoff for Mount Haldane trail
A 3.2 km gravel road to the trailhead. The 6.4 km long hiking trail takes you to the summit of Mount Haldane, elevation 1,836 m with spectacular views over the McQueston River Valley, the mine sites of Elsa and the village of Mayo. Roundtrip at least 6 hours. Inquire locally about trail conditions.
The trail was cut by a mining company in the 1970s and work was done to it in recent years.
Km 76.4 – Halfway Lake
Information boards by Halfway Lake and entrance to the Silver Trail Inn.
Km 87 – South McQuesten River Road
Drive 4 km to the Silver Centre campground and head to the bridge for grayling fishing.
Km 96 – Elsa
The old Keno Hill Mines Ltd. company town of Elsa is closed to the public.
Once a privately owned mining town, Elsa is now uninhabited apart from a caretaker. Most of the buildings have been dismantled. You still can see some of the old buildings of Elsa from the road.
On the left-hand west side of the road watch for a plaque in remembrance of Livingston Wernecke, an American engineer who came to the Keno Hill area in 1919.
Km 101 – Sideroad turnoff
This is the road to Hanson Lakes and McQuesten Lake (15 km).
Km 110 – Keno City
I fell in love with this historic frontier town at first sight, nestled in the mountains at the end of The Silver Trail, population around 20. In Keno City, the northern mining experience is still fresh, with an authenticity that you won’t soon forget.
Visitor services: Rustic accommodation, camping, showers and laundromat, and a snack bar with the best Italian pizza outside of Italy.
Keno Hill Signpost
The steep and rugged Signpost Road takes you above treeline, passing alpine meadows and overlooking valleys and mountain ranges. The 10 km adventure drive to the famous signpost at the top of Keno Hill will reward you with a breathtaking panoramic view over the valleys
The drive is not recommended for large motorhomes or trailer rigs. There is no turning around until you get to the top.
Inquire about road conditions before you head out.
- Watch out for mining areas
- Don’t miss a side trip to Keno Hill
- Please Note: Distances used in the travel log are only approximate.
For emergency services dial 911 or phone the RCMP at Mayo.
Yukon Travel Information
- Klondike Highway, Yukon
- 5 Epic Gravel Travel Highways in Canada’s North
- Dawson City Travel Guide
- Whitehorse Yukon’s Capital City
- Backcountry Camping in the Wild