10 Great Hikes in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Spectacular Yoho National Park straddles the TransCanada Highway in the Province of British Columbia west of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

 

Twin Falls, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

Twin Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

The Parks Canada Visitor Centre in the tiny, historic coal mining and railroad community of Field, B.C., provides a wealth of information for exploration of the natural wonders contained within the borders of Yoho National Park.  

Although Yoho is one of Canada's smaller National Parks by land mass, Yoho National Park offers a wealth of natural treasures which appeal to a broad range of adventurers ranging from sightseers and novice hikers, to seasoned, well-equipped and highly experienced mountaineers on aggressive multiple day missions. 

Yoho National Park contains hundreds of breathtaking waterfalls, including Canada's second tallest and easily accessible waterfall, as well as massive glaciers, pristine emerald lakes, World Heritage Site fossil beds and formidable mountains.

Click on the red links for access to more detailed information about the hikes.

 


1.   Walk in the Past


 

During construction of Canada's Transcontinental Railway, one of the most challenging sections was the 'Big Hill' near the Alberta-British Columbia border.  Prior to construction of the Spiral Tunnels, the steep grade challenged locomotives of that time and created a challenging component along the rail line.

The 'Walk in the Past' hike is a short, relatively easy, interesting and informational interpretive journey through lush forest along the path used by railway construction workers who built the rail line.  The hike leads to an old, wrecked locomotive which failed to make the grade.  It is an interesting and enlightening story.

 

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

Wreck of the Baldwin #7717 Steam Locomotive in Yoho National Park

 

 


2.   Wapta Falls


 

The short, easy hike to Wapta Falls begins near the west border of Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Canada.  If the gate is open, a small parking area precedes a short, flat walk through forest to Yoho National Park's largest waterfall by volume.  When the gate is closed, the hike along the gravel road is substantially longer but still doable.  At the end viewpoint, trail switchbacks lead down through lush forest to the base of the waterfall for the ability to gain different and outstanding views from the riverbank.

 

Wapta Falls, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

 


3.   Hoodoo Creek


 

Hiking along Hoodoo Creek near the west side of Yoho National Park is an uphill, energetic endeavor through forest on switchbacks with occasional dramatic mountain vistas.  The final approach above a valley hosting the cascading, white water of Hoodoo Creek, with far-side hoodoo hints, will lead to an excellent cluster of hoodoos.  Two rustic trail branches lead to either the bottom or top of the hoodoos.  Both trail branches are recommended to obtain a full suite of dramatic photographs of the impressive cluster of hoodoos. 

 

Hoodoo Creek, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

Hoodoos along Hoodoo Creek from the top in Yoho National Park

 

 


4.   Yoho Lake


 

Yoho Lake is an outstanding and relatively short hike from the main parking area at Takakkaw Falls to a pristine, emerald lake which hosts a backcountry campground.  This location is also a staging area for a wide variety of world-class hikes in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada.

 

Yoho Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

A secluded, emerald alcove at Yoho Lake in Yoho National Park

 

 


5.   Mount Stephen Trilobite Beds


 

The moderate hike to the Mount Stephen Fossil Beds is restricted to guided tours.  This fascinating location provides a glimpse into early life on Earth when these mountainous locations were at the bottom of an ocean.  Guides for the hike, which begins in the small Community of Field, share a wealth of fascinating information about the formation of Earth.  The Mount Stephen Fossil Beds offer an energetic uphill jaunt.  Sweeping mountain views are breathtaking from this lofty location on the side of Mount Stephen in British Columbia, Canada.

 

Mount Stephen Fossil Beds, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

A trilobite fossil at Mount Stephen Fossil beds above Field, British Columbia

 

 


6.   Emerald Basin


 

The short hike up and into Emerald Basin begins with an initial steeper component from the shoreline of the trail around world-famous Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada.  Initial views of receding glaciers diminish as the easy hike continues into alpine terrain towards roaring white waterfalls amplified by echos from surrounding, formidable rock walls.  Mountains are up close and personal.  Views are breathtaking in this full sensory experience.

 

Emerald Basin, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

Emerald Basin above Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

 

 


7.   Takakkaw Falls


 

The short hike on fully-developed trail to the base of towering Takakkaw Falls begins from the main parking area after the twisting, turning drive from the TransCanada Highway in Yoho National Park, B.C., Canada.  Powerful cascading water is fed by melt from Daly Glacier, branching off from the Waputik Icefield above, and rainbows often dance in the mist created by water pounding against sheer rock walls.  Light rain gear is a good idea.

 

Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

 


8.   Twin Falls


 

Twin Falls is a moderate hike beginning from the main parking area at Takakkaw Falls with multiple natural wonders along the route.  The location also hosts rustic and very limited lodge accommodation at Twin Falls Chalet, originally established in 1908 before Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Canada was officially established.  Extensions and variable routes on this hike provide a plethora of unique and fantastic hiking opportunities.

 

Twin Falls, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

Twin Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

 


9.   Walcott Quarry


 

Walcott Quarry is a restricted World Heritage Site suspended on the side of Fossil Ridge near the summit of Wapta Mountain.  Access is by guided tour only.  Views are breathtaking from the Wapta Traverse, across the valley hosting world-renowned Emerald Lake, to majestic glaciated mountains and waterfalls.  The final steep climb to Walcott Quarry is followed by a fascinating opportunity to learn about early life on Earth before retreat, via the route taken past Yoho Lake, to the trailhead at main parking near Takakkaw Falls.  The tour is a long and physical day.

 

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

View of mountains, glaciers and waterfalls from the Wapta Traverse

 

 


10.   Hamilton Falls


 

Hamilton Falls is a picturesque waterfall in the rocky folds of a cliff face along a clearly marked trail at the parking area for Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada.  There is remaining evidence of an old power generation facility and water source at the base of the waterfall. This short, easy and scenic hike is a prelude to the more challenging and full day hike further to Hamilton Lake.  A bonus is easy accessible ice cream or food and beverage at Emerald Lake Lodge on the shore of spectacular and world-famous Emerald Lake.

 

Hamilton Falls, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

Hamilton Falls near Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

 


Bonus Hike   11.   The Iceline 


 

The Iceline hike above Yoho Valley in Yoho National Park tracks remnants of the Emerald Glacier with phenomenal vistas across mountains, ice fields, glaciers, lush valleys, alpine meadows and rushing glacial melt waters servicing rushing creeks and rivers to supply alpine tarns and sub-alpine lakes.  Hiking simply does not get better than this.  Experience and gear combined with due diligence planning are important.

 

The Iceline, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, BC, Canada

The world-class Iceline hike in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Canada hosts a treasure of vertical adventure year round.  Your best ally is a quality hiking guidebook and trail map to assess distance and elevation.  It is always wise to check in with Parks Canada for current trail status and restrictions.  The Iceline is a world class hike in Yoho National Park which will undoubtedly leave an indelibly memorable impression.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Came across your page when I was searching about Yoho National Park. Very cool and detailed info, thank you for this :) Friends and I are driving to Alberta from Winnipeg, Manitoba to hike for a week around Yoho Park and this site/blog blessed my research. Would like to be someone like u when I get older. Never stop exploring!

Hello, Barry. I will be in Field May 26-30, 2017. I am wondering if the great hikes (other than the trilobite bed hike which does not start until June) will be accessible or will they be still under snow? Any thoughts would appreciated. Thank you

Thank you for your comment, Elaine.  Weather dynamics can be quite volatile at this time of the year and there is a substantial snow pack this year.  There should be some opportunities pending good weather for your brief visit but they will likely be lower elevation options like Emerald Lake or Wapta Falls.  Locals will direct you at the specific time.  I have no confidence in predicting the situation three weeks ahead of time.

If I may repeat Elaine's question, we will be traveling to Emerald Lake Lodge Wednesday from South Carolina. Are many of the hikes doable right now? Thank you.

Chris,  I am simply the wrong resource.  There is still a lot of snow in the mountains. Lower elevation trails will likely be wet and muddy.  Higher trails will be snowbound. Any trail is doable if you have the right gear and avalanche risk is reasonable. The trail reports are updated regularly.  Following are the links for Banff and Yoho.  Emerald Lake Lodge is a world class accommodation which hosts guests world wide year round.  They will be your best support mechanism.  Weather here can be volatile, particularly in Spring.  Wish you luck and hope your trip is a huge success.  

I am a single person, age 70, who loves to walk and hike. Last year, I walked in the Lake District in England. I would love to hike Yoho including Lake O'Hara area. Do you know any hiking group that I could join for a week or so of hiking in this area?

Thank you for your comment, Suzanne. Personally, I do not know of a local hiking group in Yoho but that does not mean there isn't one. You may wish to get in touch with the Visitor Centre at this link.  There may be hiking groups in the Town of Banff or in Canmore that service the area.  Calgary hiking groups would be more general from a greater distance.  Lake O'Hara is a high demand area and during the summer there is a bus service for the 12 KM access to the lake and surrounding tails. I suggest you get in touch with the Park first and then touring firms that might be able to increase your productivity over the course of your stay.  Yoho is one of my favorite parks and you are in for some real treats. When you contact firms local to Yoho it will be helpful to provide details of your lodging etc.  Many lodges have services and in-depth knowledge of how to get around.  Good luck and I hope your experience is sensational.

I have a friend visiting mid October and I'm looking at possible multi-day hikes/camping (1-2 nights) in AB, Yoho, Glacier National Park in BC or MT. I'm based out of Calgary. Any suggestions or advise on camping that time of the year? I imagine it'll be cold but doable with the right gear? I haven't camped in shoulder season before so I'm hoping to get some good insight before planning.

Natasha,  Even the crystal ball cannot predict this one.  I know nothing of your experience, knowledge or gear.  Being Calgary based you will be aware of the significant and potentially limiting forest fire situation.  There is a hostel, campgrounds and the ACC Stanley Mitchell Hut at Yoho which may provide a number of alternatives.  The Iceline is a popular and spectacular alternative.  Glacier National Park at Rogers Pass in BC may be affected by fire restrictions.  In Montana, for a short duration, you may likely focus on trail in NE Many Glacier at Swift Current.  You need to perform your own due diligence based on your own experience and preferences.  No-one else can do that for you.  In October you may be impacted by seasonal closures.  Consult the websites for each of the parks and build your detailed plan (with contingency) to suit your personal needs and ambitions.  No-one else can do that for you.

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