The town is ringed by hiking trails: some gentle, some pretty rugged. Most convenient for a short hike or a jog is the 9km (5.6-mile) trail around Frame Lake, accessible from the Northern Heritage Centre, the Prince of Wales Heritage Centre, and other points. Don't forget insect repellent and watch for black bears that wander close to the city and parks.
The other major focus of recreation in the Yellowknife area is the Ingraham Trail, a paved and then gravel road starting just northwest of town and winding east over 73km (45 miles) to Tibbett Lake. En route lay a string of lakes, mostly linked by the Cameron River, making this prime canoe and kayak country. Ingraham Trail also crosses by several territorial parks, two waterfalls, the Giant Mine, and waterfowl habitat, plus lots of picnic sites, camping spots, boat rentals, and fishing spots.
One of the largest lakes along the trail is Prelude Lake, 32km (20 miles) east of town; it's a wonderful setting for scenic boating. For boat rentals, you might check out Overlander Sports (tel. 867/873-2474; www.overlandersports.com). For other rental providers, contact the visitor center (tel. 877/881-4262 or 867/873-4262; www.northernfrontier.com).
Canoeing & Kayaking
When you fly into Yellowknife, you'll notice that about half the land surface is composed of lakes, so it's no wonder that canoeing and kayaking are really popular here. Narwal Adventure Training and Tours (101-5103 51st Ave.; tel. 867/873-6443; www.ssimicro.com/~narwal), offers canoe and kayak rentals and instruction, and can provide guided tours of Great Slave and Prelude lakes. A daylong rental from Narwal is around C$45. The Northern Frontier Regional Visitor Centre offers maps of seven canoe paths through the maze of lakes, islands, and streams along the Ingraham Trail; with a few short portages, it's possible to float just about all the way from Prelude Lake to Yellowknife, about a 5-day journey.
Traditionally, fishing has been the main reason to visit the Yellowknife and the Great Slave Lake area. Lake trout, arctic grayling, northern pike, and whitefish grow to storied size in these Northern lakes; the pristine water conditions and general lack of anglers mean fishing isn't just good, it's great. Both Bluefish Services (tel. 867/873-4818) and Barbara Ann Charters (tel. 867/873-9913) offer fishing trips on Great Slave Lake directly from town, but most serious anglers fly in floatplanes to fishing lodges, either on Great Slave or on more remote lakes, for a wilderness fishing trip.
One of the best of the lodge outfitters on Great Slave Lake is the Frontier Fishing Lodge (tel. 780/465-6843; www.frontierfishinglodge.com), 185km (115 miles) southeast of Yellowknife and accessible only by floatplane or boat. With comfortable lodge rooms or freestanding log cabins, a 3-day all-inclusive guided fishing trip costs around C$1,795. Nearly two dozen fishing-lodge outfitters operate in the Yellowknife area; contact the visitor center for a complete listing.
The most popular hike along the Ingraham Trail is to Cameron River Falls. The well-signed trail head is 48km (30 miles) east of Yellowknife. Although not a long hike -- allow 1 1/2 hours for the round-trip -- the trail to the falls is hilly. An easier trail is the 3 km (1.8 miles) Prelude Lake Nature Trail, winding along Prelude Lake through wildlife habitat. The 90-minute hike begins and ends at the lakeside campground. Closer to Yellowknife, the 4 km (2.4 miles) Prospectors Trail at Fred Henne Park is an interpreted trail through gold-bearing rock outcroppings; signs tell the story of Yellowknife's rich geology.