The Snake is a pristine tributary of the Yukon’s Peel River watershed flowing due north along the Northwest Territories border on the Continental Divide. This classic northern river boasts abundant wildlife, alpine hiking, magnificent scenery and miles of challenging, runnable rapids ideal for intermediate or advanced canoeists. North of the tree line we come close to the Arctic Circle where there is a blend of barren tundra and sparse tree cover.
A five hour van ride from Whitehorse to Mayo along the Klondike Hwy lands us at the Blacksheep Aviation floatplane base where we take a spectacular flight to Duo Lakes deep in the Mackenzie Mountains. You can try your luck fishing for grayling and trout at Duo Lakes where we spend two nights to allow for an epic all-day hike to a mountain peak. The surrounding valley is full to the brim with wildflowers. The one-mile hike to the Snake River proper is over an open valley trail.
In its upper reaches the Snake is comprised of a braided fan of small channels which make for tight corners and quick decisions! At Reptile Creek, the volume doubles and the Snake begins a fabulous determined decent through towering mountain terrain and a velvet-green river valley. Painted Mountain creates a beautiful backdrop to this campsite at Reptile Creek and we often schedule a day-hike into the alpine.
At the mid-point a short canyon demands a respectful approach and sometimes requires a short portage on river left. Campsites on the Snake are on open gravel bars with awesome views and free of bugs. There is ample driftwood for evening fires and the sweet smell of river beauty is in the air. Paddling out of the mountains, we near the Peel River when a broad valley swings into full panoramic view. Our trip ends at the Taco Bar, a small gravel island just downstream from the Snake – Peel confluence where we rendezvous with Blacksheep Aviation for the return flight to Mayo.