Skyline to Arctic Brotherhood (AB) Trail is a 7.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Skagway, AK that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from June until September.
We had a few hours to kill before taking the train up the mountain to hike to Laughton Glacier, so we headed up this trail as far as we could go before having to turn around in time to catch the train. It's an easy walk to the trailhead with peek-a-boo views back to the town. We found a rock lookout at our turn-around spot that gave us some great views. It was about a mile into the hike.
Awesome hike! My wife and I left our cruise ship a little late in the morning around 9am. First we stopped at the trail center which was a big help in many ways, (but mostly gave my wife some needed confidence that the hike wasn't too dangerous.) Anyway, it took about 30 min to walk to the trail bottom so factor that in your plans if you are walking from town. We hit trail bottom at 10:30am. 20-30mins up the hill you see the first lookout point over to the right side of the path. Nice rock cliff to sit and take in a nice view. Enjoy it because the rest is forest until you start getting near the top. Much of this hike is an easy, slight incline upward through an alpine forest with moss covered roots and rocks rolling upward. Very beautiful! There is a small brook along the way with fresh clean water. Great place to refill your water bottle. The mountain slopes steeper the farther you go. It winds through bush and rocks becoming very very steep. That is when the trees start getting lower and as you look behind you the view is absolutely breathtaking. We had a goal to go as far as we can until 1:30 and then turn around. We had to get back to our boat by 5 and still needed to shop in town. The top was right there in sight but our time ran out. We stopped and had a quick lunch. I was wore out, we were going full speed hike mode. I just got to say, that if you are in Skagway and you want a mountain high view, this one will not disappoint. I got some great photos -will upload when I get a chance. We didn't see anyone else on the way up, but encountered a few people on our way down that were headed up. Evidently, this trail has no end. It sort of splits into different goat paths at the top but you can follow it all the way into Canada if you want. We reached the trail bottom around 3:30pm and reached town at 4pm. I loved every minute of this hike and so did my wife.
Began hiking this trail with a friend at about 9:45PM early June 2007. Needless to say, we didn't have enough daylight to make it up and back, got turned back by increasingly steep and slick patches of trail-erasing snow (in the clouds, in the dark), became utterly lost while attempting to descend, finally gave up and hunkered down on the side of a cliff, and waited until dawn to descend backcountry through thick devil's club-filled ravines... on the wrong side of the ridge (towards Dyea). It was an AMAZING time!
The moral of the story though: for the smoothest experience, wait until later in the summer when the snow is gone, and start earlier in the day ;-)
BE WARNED: This trail climbs almost 5000 feet in about 5 miles. That's an average trail slope of 18%, though the trail actually climbs at somewhat of an exponential rate.