A Walk in the Past - Yoho National Park - Hiking BC

 

Historically rich 'Walk in the Past' trail in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada.

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, BC, Canada

 

The 'Walk in the Past' is a short, relatively easy and historically fascinating, interpretive hike from the Kicking Horse Campground to the 'Big Hill'.  The trail begins at the far end of the Kicking Horse Campground past Monarch Campground.  Both campgrounds are near the beginning of the Yoho Valley Road off the TransCanada Highway a short distance east of Field in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.  The return hike is  2.7 KM (1¾ miles) long with an elevation gain of about 120 m (394 ft) to a maximum elevation near 1,375 m (4,510 ft).  

'A Walk in the Past' hiking trail resides in the Kicking Horse Pass National Historic Site at Yoho National Park in British Columbia.

 

Trailhead Sign at Kicking Horse Campground for A Walk in the Past Trail in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada. 
 

The trail begins near the washrooms at the overflow camping area.  A large sign sets the tone.  Be certain to take a Self-Guiding Trail Brochure with you.  The brochure is available in the two official languages of Canada, French and English.  This brochure explains the seven interpretive stations along the route.  

The trail passes a carved log nameplate, then ascends to a small platform on the edge of Yoho Valley Road.  The trail indicator finger points the way to another platform on the opposite side of the road.

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada The first finger on A Walk in the Past Trail points to cross Yoho Valley Road in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada The trail descends on the other side of Yoho Valley Road on the Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

On the far side, the trail descends quickly then begins gradual ascent through lush, aromatic forest to Marker # 1 which sets the stage for this historical hike.  This narrow trail leads to a broader portion that was the original supply road used for railway construction in 1884.  

Marker # 2 invites today's hiker to reconstruct observations made by early explorers in the 1800's which included James Hector of the 1858 Palliser Expedition.  The trail continues to climb through dense old growth forest until the sound of traffic begins to invade the silence of the forest,  Soon a large bridge appears which is part of the TransCanada Highway.  Vehicles use the top of the bridge and trains pass underneath.

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Beautiful, aromatic forest on the Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Marker # 2 along A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Exquisite aromatic forest hosts A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A Walk in the Past Trail approaches a TransCanada Highway Bridge in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada. Mount Ogden looms in the background.

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Absorbing the scenery and checking there are no trains approaching the bridge along A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

There seems to be a finger missing at the top of the hill which approaches the bridge.  To continue along the Walk in the Past Trail, it is necessary to cross the tracks diagonally to pick up the trail on the other side of the bridge being certain there will be no locomotives rushing toward you from either direction during the crossing.  The surrounding scenery can be mesmerizing and the noise of traffic overhead could mask the sound of an oncoming train. 

Marker # 3 instructs hikers to be on the watch for the soot and cinder base of an original 1884 rail bed.  Tools and implements begin to show up at Marker # 4 which draws attention to steep grade and the locomotive fuel and effort required to deliver passengers and freight to the top of the 'Big Hill'.  Following further ascent, the trail pops out onto a gravel road.

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada The Walk in the Past Trail approaches the bridge then crosses the rails to pick up Marker # 3 on the other side in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Marker # 3 of A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Marker # 4 speaks about the uphill grind for the steep grade on Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada The two finger marker along A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Marker # 5 is a few meters to the left and addresses the downhill issues of the original rail line on the 'Big Hill'.  Next, along gravel road, Marker # 6 teaches and provides fascinating commentary about safety measures taken to arrest the downhill momentum of runaway trains.  The reason for the engineering marvel known as Spiral Tunnels becomes obvious.  The trail passes a plank bridge over a picturesque creek and within a very short distance arrives at the final Marker # 7 for the exhibit which is clearly the highlight of the interpretive trail.

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Marker # 5 along A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Approaching Marker # 6 along the gravel road on A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A plank bridge crosses a pretty creek on the approach to the main event along A Walk in the Past Trail in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A wrecked engine and coal carrier at the end of A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

The wreckage is a Baldwin #7717 Steam Locomotive.  The plaque below, which can be enlarged for reading, explains more about the locomotive and how it was used for construction of the main rail line.

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada.
 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A wrecked engine and coal carrier at the end of A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A wrecked engine and coal carrier at the end of A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A wrecked engine and coal carrier at the end of A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A wrecked engine and coal carrier at the end of A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A wrecked engine and coal carrier at the end of A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A wrecked engine and coal carrier at the end of A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A wrecked engine and coal carrier at the end of A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

The return hike is a reverse of the approach but much quicker on nearly total descent.  Along the upper gravel road, where a mud slide has cleared the forest, there is a spectacular view, across the TransCanada Highway, of Cathedral Mountain.

This short, easy trail is a must-do for any railroad aficionado and it would be remiss to avoid adding The Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint to the agenda.  Spiral Tunnels was a massive, innovative and brilliant construction project to reduce the risk for trains and passengers negotiating the infamous 'Big Hill'  in a fascinating area which is incredibly rich in the relatively short span of Canadian history.

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A view of Cathedral Mountain along A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada A picturesque pond along A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Gorgeous path through forest along A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada Spring flowers are blooming along A Walk in the Past Trail, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

   The entire day has been grand for hiking at Herbert Lake, Bow Glacier Falls, Field Cemetery and finally, A Walk in the Past Trail.

The trick in life may be to build more positive memories in life than bad ones.  Grand memories form a portfolio which pays perpetual dividends.  Collecting things, perhaps not so much.

Photographs for this post were captured on June 24, 2014.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Thanks, Barry, for inspiring my husband and me to hike this trail on our latest visit to your beautiful part of the world. We've been in Yoho many times but never considered taking this short trail, and it was not only interesting in its historical perspective, but also beautiful - there were even tall bog orchids blooming in late July when we were there, as well as lots of other gorgeous flowers!

Enjoyed the old iron. Ken

Is there a map? Can I use this trail if I bring snow shoes? Does it get you closer to a place where you can good videos of a train spiraling over itself?

Maps are generally available at the trailhead.  Stopping at the nearby Visitor Centre at Field would be wise.  The trail could be done in snowshoes but hiking crampons on packed trail might make more sense.  Views of the Spiral Tunnel are best achieved from the well-signed viewpoint above the tunnels along the TransCanada Highway east of the final downhill approach into Field, BC.  You may have to wait for a train.  Check with the Visitor Centre in Field along the TransCanada Highway for most current information and access.

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