Exploring Yellowknife

10 Hiking Trails Around Yellowknife

Yellowknife Hiking Trails

Yellowknife is blessed with a number of trails suitable for walking, biking, hiking and jogging. Travel at your own risk and carry water and bug dope and be prepared to see wildlife, including, occasionally, black bears. A good reference on the flora and fauna of this area is Blue Lake and Rocky Shore by Jamie Bastedo, available locally.

Some maps might be available at the Visitor Centre.

The Prospector’s Trail

This is a scenic (4 km) trek across a colourful patchwork of ancient rock. With a pocket guide from the Northern Frontier Visitor’s Centre, a good pair of rubber soled shoes (and some bug dope) you can interpret the forces that formed the geological region surrounding the city. A government Geological Survey team identified gold near here in 1935. Prospectors and miners soon arrived from the south by boat, raft and aircraft and set the scene for development of Yellowknife, a gold mining community for some 70 years. The trail starts and finishes in the Fred Henne Territorial Park. Interpretive brochures are available to highlight some of the geological features of the area. Due to highway construction in 2013, the trail may be closed.

Frame Lake Trail

The Frame Lake Trail (5 km) is an extended network of well maintained paved and graveled walkways and bike routes that circles the scenic lake, connecting downtown Yellowknife with the residential and commercial areas to the west. The network of trails also connects to the Bristol monument, Lakeview cemetery and Fred Henne Territorial Park. These nature trails are a daily route to work and an exercise path for Yellowknifers in all seasons. Interpretive brochures are available to highlight some of the geological features of the area.

Outdoor Lunch Locations in Yellowknife

Niven Lake Trail

The Niven Lake Trail is a 2km loop circling a small and productive lagoon which features some of the best bird watching in Yellowknife, as well as glimpses of muskrats and the occasional beaver. There is a variety of ground surfaces here, from muskeg to forest to rock, and many scenic viewpoints with interpretive signage. You can connect to trails that will take you to the Yellowknife Ski Club, and to the historic Back Bay Cemetary.

Range Lake Trail

The Range Lake Trail is 1km in length and connects to the Frame Lake trail system to include suburban Frame Lake South, a popular residential area. From the Frame Lake trail, take the exit at the hospital (the big red brick building at the opposite end of Frame Lake from the Visitor Centre), and head through the hospital parking lot toward the supermarket across the intersection of Old Airport Road and Range Lake Road. The starting point for the Range Lake trail is behind the Shell convenience store.

Tin Can Hill

A designated ‘off leash’ area for dog walkers, the Tin Can Hill provides a wonderful greenspace within the City of Yellowknife. The old roads mark a 1940s trail that connected Yellowknife’s Old Town with the Con Mine community and was once littered with garbage, hence the name ‘Tin Can Hill’. Old treasures may still be found by exploring the old trails. Motorized vehicles are not authorized in the Rat Lake-Tin Can Hill area during the summer months.

Ranney Hill Trail

Accessible by driving up the Vee Lake Road, this natural hiking trail is 2.5km round-trip and is a popular afternoon adventure. For the adventurous and sturdy climbers only, the summit of 75 foot Ranney Hill – an ancient volcanic plug – provides a spectacular view of the Yellowknife region. This trail is well travelled in the summer months and decently packed in the winter. The hike to the summit of Ranney Hill is unmarked but it is recommended you approach the climb from the south wall. You can also continue to follow the trail westerly to Martin Lake.

Big Hill Lake

Big Hill Lake is a hidden treasure of the Yellowknife area. Accessible by driving down the Ingraham Trail to Madeline Lake (25 kilometres east), with access and parking available on a rough pull out on the south side of the highway. The 6km round-trip hiking trail is well marked in the summer months only. It is a great destination for an overnight camping trip. No facilities are provided. Please contact us for more information on accessing this trail. Note also, that the trail can be very wet in the Spring.

Prelude Lake Trail

This scenic nature trail within the Prelude Lake Territorial Campground (30 kilometers east) is sure to expand your knowledge of the local flora and fauna. The 2.5 km loop provides gorgeous views of Prelude Lake and interpretive signing will explain everything you need to know about the north’s wildlife and vegetation.

Cameron Falls Trail

This 2 km round trip pathway to Cameron Falls on the Cameron River is accessible from the Ingraham Trail, 46 kilometers east of Yellowknife. The falls is a prime day trip destination with many beautiful views of the taiga landscape. Interpretive brochures are available to highlight some of the geological features of the area.

Berry Hill Trail

The Berry Hill Trail is a little unknown to us, not officially been on a round trip of this trail. It is a definitely not maintained trail and should be used with a word of caution. That said it is a longer and more adventurous trail and if you’re looking for a good weekend adventure, this might be it.

Best to view the trail on Google Maps here.

To The Yellowknife River Trail

There is a hiking and biking trail just off the Ingraham Trail, just past the Dettah turn off, up the hill on the left. This is not an official trail of any type and I don’t even know the name of it, but the entrance is marked and I’ve done the trek several times. It is an easy 80 minutes round trip if you don’t stop and enjoy the great view overlooking the Yellowknife River. Check this trail out at your own risk.

If you know of a great hiking trail around Yellowknife, and you don’t want to keep it a secret, let us know about it.

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About the author

Kyle Thomas

Kyle grew up in Yellowknife and is a local entrepreneur, writer, baker, and Yellowknife Advocate who is addicted to learning as much as he can about the community and sharing it with anyone who'll listen. In 2009 he developed YkOnline.ca. A website all about living, working and thriving in Yellowknife for residents, newcomers, and visitors.

12 Comments

  • Hi, I tried finding the entrance to the “Yellowknife River Trail” yesterday and was unable to. Can you be more specific about where it is?

    Thanks

  • Do you know how many of these trails are passable in the wintertime? Aside from the obvious ones like Frame Lake Trail and Niven Lake Trail. Just wondering how well packed any of them are for walking (no snowshoes). Thanks

    • Hi Renee, Most of them are used frequently in the winter and I imagine are packed down by this point. The less used ones (The Holdout/YK River) might not be and obviously after a big snowfall the trail may be harder to follow. That said I have hiked most of them over the years in the winter.

  • Hi Kyle.. i’m planning to visit Yellowknife last week of october, do you think is a good moment to see the northern lights and also little hiking? I really appreciate your answer. 🙂

    • Hello Luis,

      Typically this is not a good time for the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights more so because there is an increased amount of cloud cover during this time as well as snowfall. So the actual Aurora Borealis might be active the cloud may prevent you from seeing them. And, yes, there are several hiking trails around Yellowknife as mentioned above, but the potential for snow will create ice/slippery conditions so caution is advised.

  • Hi Kyle,

    What is the chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis in August? This is the only time of year we can come and i hate that we will miss it. With regard to hiking trails, any suggestion for inexperienced nature hikers?
    Yellowknife will be our northernmost visit.
    Thanks and thank you for this site.

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