The start and finish locations for the Yukon River Trail Marathon are in Rotary Peace Park. An out-and-back along the Yukon River has been included (as per 2015 and 2016).
The race begins and ends in Rotary Peace Park. For much of the course, you will be running along side or above the Yukon River or one of a few small pothole lakes. The trail, though well used, is worn so watch out for tree roots in many spots. There is significant elevation gain and loss all along the trail (see map).
The course is divided into four legs, ranging in length from 8 to 13 km. The marathon and relay routes consist of all four legs. The half-marathon consists of legs 1 and 4.
The trail is well-marked with flagging tape (usually pink), orange pin markers and sandwich boards are key junctures and road crossings.
As well, volunteers are posted at key points to ensure runners remain on course.
Fluids are available at kilometres 4.1, 8, 13.1, 17.3, 21.2, 27, 31.2, 36.3. Gatorade is available at Miles Canyon (km 8), Chadburn Lake Picnic Area (17.3 km), Schwatka Lake (km 21.2), final crossing of Chadburn Lake Road (km 36.3).
Food is available at Checkpoints 1 (8 km), 2 (17.3 km) and 3 (27 km) - the race does not supply gels on course.
Leg 1 - 8 kilometres
Starting at Rotary Peace Park (on the west side of the Yukon River), runners cross under the Robert Campbell Bridge, then take a hard right turn, go up stairs and onto the bridge before meeting up with the Millennium Trail on the east side of the Yukon River to the Rotary Centennial Bridge. Cross this foot bridge (back to the west side of the river) and follow the trail through the Robert Service Campground, crossing at the parking lot to the South Access Road. Turn left at South Access, passing Yukon Energy Corporation's Whitehorse Rapids Plant. Cut left onto Schwatka Lake Road and continue to the float plane dock, where a sharp right turn is made up the embankment and the railway tracks are crossed. Follow the trail for approximately 1.6km and continue along side the Miles Canyon Road for about 50 meters before turning right onto a short narrow section. This takes the runner to the crossing point at the top of the first big hill on Miles Canyon Road. Cross the road and follow the trail which shortly reaches the escarpment, down to the 'Saddle' on the side of the road and a narrow trail that follows Miles Canyon and crosses the new 'single-track' bridge before re-joining the Miles Canyon access road.
After a short section on the road (100-150 meters), drop down a short, steep trail, and go across Miles Canyon Suspension Bridge. Fluids and food are available here. This is the first exchange point for the relay. Marathoners and leg 2 relay runners turn right. Half-marathoners turn left. and follow Leg 4 along the east shore of Schwatka Lake.
Leg 2 - 11.5 kilometres
Runners in the marathon and relay events turn right at the bridge, and follow the Yukon River trail through Canyon City.
EXTREME CAUTION should be used as there are some steep drop offs to the river in this section. Keep your eyes on the terrain, not the scenery.
Continue along the river trail for a few kilometres. There is a remote aid station, a 1km out-and-back and then a sharp right turn in the direction of Chadburn Lake. Follow a log-strewn trail with a long, steep hill to the Chadburn Lake picnic shelter. Food, drinks, and toilets are available here. This is Checkpoint #2 - the second exchange point for the relay.
Leg 3 - 9.7 kilometres
Continue along Chadburn Lake and over to Chadden Lake. Follow the low-lying trail along Chadden Lake until directed up a hill. Continue along rolling hills to the end of the lake where there is a BIG hill leading to a lookout above the lake (water is available here at a remote station). Follow the undulating trail for a couple of kilometres before making a sharp left turn up a steep trail to the Chadburn Lake Blue ski trail. Follow the Blue ski trail and cross Chadburn Lake Road. Run through the ski trail parking lot, back to the Miles Canyon Suspension Bridge. This is the Checkpoint #3 and the third exchange point for the relay. Food and fluids are available here.
Leg 4 - 13 kilometres
From the Miles Canyon foot bridge, the course turns north and follows the east shore of Schwatka Lake past the boat launch and up a short path to the right. The trail continues above the lake, and returns to lake level after a few kilometres. Continue through the picnic area where water is available and then cut right toward the Chadburn Lake Road, crossing it and then looping around Hidden Lakes (on your left). The trail initially rises, then descends to lake level followed by a steep climb to overlook the lakes. The trail undulates, but stays high before slipping down to the open area before Heart Break Hill (your old friend is back!). Ascend Heart Break and then enjoy the bone jarring descent to the Chadburn Lake Road and the wheezing climb up the Dam (or is it Damn?) Hill just after crossing the road. Enjoy the awesome view over Schwatka Lake of the green Yukon River Valley and beyond to Mount Lorne and Golden Horn Mountains. The trail descends to the river, where there is a water stop. Continue on the Millennium Trail, cross the Rotary Centennial Bridge, and continue along the paved trail on the west side of the river, running under the Robert Campbell Bridge to finish at Rotary Park.