Walcott Quarry - Yoho National Park - Hiking BC

 

Burgess Shale is a World Heritage Site in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada.

 

 

Within 700 m (766 yards) of departing from Yoho Lake Backcountry Campground the group, led by the Parks Canada Interpretive Guide, arrive at the trail junction with the Highline Trail and the trail sign announcing advancing trail continues to a restricted UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The group bears left on the trail towards Yoho Pass.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada The crystal-clear, emerald water of Yoho Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada The trail junction to Yoho Pass in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

0.6 KM (⅜ miles) later, on the hike between Michael Peak and Wapta Mountain, the hike arrives at Yoho Pass and bears left onto the incredible Wapta Highline Trail where incredible vistas begin to unfold as the warming day draws valley mist above surrounding summits.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada WOW!  Michael Peak and the President Range from Yoho Pass in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Initial view of the Emerald Glacier on Michael Peak from the Wapta Highline Trail in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Long lens view of the Emerald Glacier on Michael Peak from the Wapta Highline Trail in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada - Photo credit Bill Taylor

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Another long lens view of the Emerald Glacier on Michael Peak from the Wapta Highline Trail in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada - Photo credit to Bill Taylor

 

As the hike continues south on the Wapta Highline Trail, an uphill push on moderate grade through forest leads to interesting rocky trail, predominantly at or above the treeline along the flank of Wapta Mountain.  The scenery which unfolds is breathtaking.  The route opens views into the valley hosting Emerald Lake and, in the distance, the pointed peak of 2,635 m (8,645 ft) Mount Field provides substance to scale and distance.  The trail along Wapta Mountain requires special attention as much of it is in questionably stable, rock slide terrain.  The approach to the lunch break location settles onto more stable terrain and grade with amazing spherical views as the sun continues to warm and brighten the day.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Mount Field dominates the view ahead as spectacular scenery unfolds around us on the Wapta Highline Trail in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Rock slide erosion is evident on the slopes below Wapta Mountain and Mount Field in Yoho National Par, British Columbia, Canada.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada The Wapta Highline trail is initially a climb through forest leading to a long stretch of relatively flat, rocky trail with sections of rock slide exposure beneath the summit.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Views of Emerald Lake below unfold as we approach our lunch spot. Surrounding scenery is spectacular and diverse with multiple mountains, waterfalls and glaciers highlighting diverse terrain.

 

Seating for lunch is on warm and comfortable flat rocks while the guide presents historical insight into this region.  A nearby young marmot, sunning on a large rock nearby, seems ambivalent to our presence as the group collectively enjoys the incredible view of Emerald Lake beneath us at the base of 2,555 m (8,382 ft) Emerald Peak.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Avalanche chutes on the slopes of Emerald Peak are a backdrop to pristine Emerald Lake under the watch of a young marmot who is comfortable with our presence on Wapta Mountain in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada A young marmot basking in the sun on the flank of Mount Wapta in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada The alluvial plain beneath the President Range which feeds Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada The distinct summit cliffs of Mount Wapta above and behind our lunch spot in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

After lunch the hike continues south on the Wapta Highline Trail surrounded by fields of wildflowers and sensational vistas.  This is an incredibly beautiful place.  Within a short time the location of the Walcott Quarry becomes visible and soon the trail-head sign announces access by permit only.  The public does not have free access to Walcott Quarry.  The area is remotely monitored by sophisticated equipment and unauthorized access penalties are significant.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Continuing to hike south on the Wapta Highline Trail in the direction of Burgess Pass between Mount Field and Mount Burgess in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Massive fields of wildflowers dot the sweeping landscape around the Wapta Highline Trail beneath Walcott Quarry in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada A long lens view of Walcott Quarry above the Wapta Highline Trail in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

 

The people who do not have access may be the lucky ones.  After a long hike, the final phase to visit Walcott Quarry is a gut crunching, heart pounding, thigh thumping ascent on a series of short, sharp switchbacks which rapidly gain height equivalent to an eighteen-story apartment building.  Arrival alive at Walcott Quarry is a merciful blessing.  The magnificent scenery surrounding the effort is a motivational blessing.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Beginning the steep switchback ascent from Wapta Highline to Walcott Quarry in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada Check out the scenery.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Ascending the switchbacks to Walcott Quarry with Wapta Mountain Summit accented by Emerald Glacier on Michael Peak in the background. It doesn't get much better than this. Incredible aerobic workout.

 

Sketchy trail on switchback near the arrival at Walcott Quarry in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Arrival at Walcott Quarry in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada. Nice view. Fascinating place.

 

Substantial electronic monitoring gear is evident at Walcott Quarry.  The view is overwhelming.  All participants are required to don rock helmets and are issued with specimen sheets to locate and identify fossils.  They are not limited to trilobites as was the case on Mount Stephen.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Walcott Quarry has been in use since 1906 and has yielded important scientific data. There is a lot of electronic monitoring equipment at the site in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Parks Canada maintains a locked specimen cabinet at Walcott Quarry in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada The view of Emerald Glacier on Michael Peak past Wapta Mountain summit from Walcott Quarry

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Searching for fossils at Walcott Quarry

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Emerald Lake beneath Walcott Quarry in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

There are a wide variety of fossils at Walcott Quarry but the majority seem to be of trilobites.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

 

Heavy weather is slowly building as the visit to Walcott Quarry comes to an end.  Another guided tour is waiting at the bottom of the switchbacks for their time slot because this is a popular destination.  Our departure is ahead of the group.  On the approach to the incoming group, their leader is Hugh from the fossil adventure on Mount Stephen.  It's like old home week.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Heavy weather is beginning to move in over Mount Field as we leave Walcott Quarry.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada There are fields of wildflowers as far as the eye can see on the switchback descent from Walcott Quarry.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Directly beneath the summit of Wapta Mountain on our return hike. Looks like an interesting scramble to the top.

 

There is a much better opportunity to capture images on the rocky trail beneath the top of Wapta Mountain on the return hike to Yoho Pass.  It is standard practice to hike with significant distances between us.  In the event of a slide incident, we will not all be involved.  There will someone to assist rescue.  Similar to avalanche terrain protocol except additional gear is required for snow.

 

Trail on the rocky slopes beneath the summit of Wapta Mountain.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Final views of Emerald Lake as shadow begins to fill the valley.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada The Emerald Glacier on Michael Peak never ceases to capture the imagination. Stark, bold and powerful beauty.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Approaching the steep rock walls on Wapta Mountain. Note the separation between us for safety reasons.

 

There is a need to capture a brief panoramic video on Wapta Mountain.  There is no alternative to being there with full vision and senses at play.  Everyone is requested to consider this hike as an opportunity to create indelible memories.

The return hike proceeds through rock rubble on defined trail after completing the rugged section adjacent to vertical rock walls.  There is further mild exposure to potential rock slide prior to the forested section which will lead us across Yoho Pass on the descent to Yoho Lake.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada 

 

Heavy weather gradually builds, a breeze ripples the surface of Yoho Lake.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Breeze ripples the surface of Yoho Lake in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada In late afternoon, long shadows encroach on breeze-rippled Yoho Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Yoho Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

The descent from Yoho Lake to Takakkaw Falls yields wonderful views.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Hidden Lake with Mount Ogden in the background. The lake is difficult to see because it's hidden.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada A long lens view of Hidden Lake along the trail to Takakkaw Falls from Yoho Lake.

 

There are examples of old, abandoned aqueducts from historical infrastructure.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Old, abandoned wooden pipe wrapped in coil.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Mount Ogden is magnificent background to vistas along the trail between Yoho Lake and Takakkaw Falls. An old wooden pipe wrapped in metal coil lies abandoned adjacent to the rugged trail between Yoho Lake and Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

On the home stretch of this long and fascinating day, intermittent light rain makes trail surface slippery and careful footsteps are needed in combination with the occasional use of umbrellas.  Views of the Daly Glacier over Takakkaw Falls are spellbinding and beautiful as descent rapidly approaches the crowded parking area at the base of the falls.

 

Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada Walcott Quarry, Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

 

This hike is a long, indelibly memorable day with lasting visions of spectacular beauty.  Yoho National Park is a favorite Canadian National Park near Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  In spite of its more remote location, from an accommodation perspective, the park is very busy in summer and shoulder seasons often offer a better wilderness experience. 

Guided tours to the protected fossil beds at Mount Stephen and Walcott Quarry are limited to small groups in limited time-frames and should be booked and paid for many months in advance to avoid disappointment. 

 

Photographs for the Walcott Quarry adventure are captured on August 5, 2013.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Did you say Beer? Ken will be there for sure. Wish I could too. Glad the weather held out for us. This was an awesome hike.

What an incredible hike! I'd like to think I'd manage to get as far as your Emerald Lake lunch spot.

Thank you for your kind words, Scott.

I came across your site while looking for information about Tombstone campground (which we did last week). You provide very good information and excellent photos of areas that I wish I lived closer to. Thanks for putting the time and effort into this site.

Thanks for your comment, Ken. This hike to Walcott Quarry is about the same scope as the hike we did together to Plain of Six Glaciers via Lake Agnes and Big Beehive. A hike on my calendar for next summer in this area is Burgess Pass Trail from Emerald Lake, north across the Wapta Highline Trail featured in this post, then descent on the Yoho Pass Trail back to Emerald Lake for an emergency beer. Shall I pencil you in?

Excellent pics. Wish I'd been with you on this one!

Thanks for the hiking write-up. I just wanted to add that you can book guided tours to the Walcott Quarry with the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation at https://www.burgess-shale.bc.ca/.

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