Canada is turning 150 this year, and to celebrate, the National Parks are free to all visitors. We hope lots of you are able to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity, and we want to help with the planning.
If you're looking to experience the beauty of the Canadian Rockies and our National Parks, Golden B.C. is where you want to be.
Golden is located at the heart of six National Parks, with Yoho being one of them. Glacier, Kootenay, Banff, Revelstoke and Jasper National Parks are the others.
This means we have access to hundreds of trails right in our own backyard. There are many day hike options available from Golden, and staying here is cheaper and less crowded than staying in the Parks themselves.
Each week, we will post our favourite trails from each National Park, so let’s start with the one closest to us - Yoho National Park.
Here are our recommendations for the 5 Best Hikes in Yoho National Park.
1. Yoho lake
The Yoho Lake hike is one of the shorter options in Yoho National Park. We've done it a few times and have yet to see anyone else on the trail, so it's a great option to get away from the crowds.
You can hike to Yoho Lake from Takakkaw Falls for a shorter option (roughly 4.5 km), but we've always started at Emerald Lake. This makes the hike approximately 7 km.
With an elevation gain of just over 500 m, it's a friendlier hike than some of the others in the area.
Starting at Emerald Lake you'll walk around the left side of the lake and then follow the signs up to Yoho Lake. The trails are well marked with signs and kilometer markers so it's very easy to navigate.
Behind the lake you'll start to climb, and the trail continues up until you reach the meadow. This is where the trail levels out as you start to approach the lake.
There are picnic tables and Parks Canada chairs at the top, making it a comfortable place to sit and relax. Bring a picnic and lots of water and you could easily spend the afternoon lounging by the water.
The hike down seems pretty quick, and you'll be looking at Emerald Lake as you descend. We found this helps take your mind off the steepness.
It's definitely worth a visit - everything about this hike is beautiful!
2. Emerald Triangle
One of our favourites! This is a fun, beautiful loop that gets you an “above and beyond” look at the stunning Emerald Lake. Emerald Lake is a real gem in the Canadian Rockies and here's an insiders tip: it tends to be much quieter than it's neighbour Lake Louise.
This hike takes you through Burgess Pass and Yoho Pass and is close to the famous Burgess Shale area. The Burgess Shale is a world renowned fossil deposit. This area is closed off from visitors unless you are in the presence of a Parks Canada guide. A visit here is worth looking into if you're interested in geology and the history of this area.
But, back to the hike. You will gain 918 meters of elevation on this path, and the 20 km loop takes around 8 hours to fully complete.
You access this trail from the Emerald Lake Lodge parking lot. You'll head left towards the back of the lake until you hit signs that link up with the Burgess Pass trail. You'll follow that all the way to Yoho Pass, and then descend back through the forest towards the Lodge.
The views are stunning and it's a nice full day of adventuring in the Canadian Rockies.
You also have the option of linking this hike to the Iceline Trail for an epic adventure. Both hikes are spectacular on their own, and the Iceline is one of our most recommended trails. We'll talk about it now.
3. Iceline Trail
We always recommend this trail to guests who are staying in the area who want a long, but not too strenuous day hike. You will need a sense of adventure and positive attitude, but it is very common to complete this hike in a day.
This 20 km trail starts at the Takakkaw Falls parking lot, and loops around to end at the Whiskey Jack Hostel. Since it is a loop, you can complete this trail in two ways:
Starting at the Whiskey Jack Hostel: A steep climb in the forest at the beginning until you reach the alpine. Here the trail levels out and the big views begin. You'll have stunning wide open views of peaks and glaciers on both sides of the valley. You'll look across at Takakkaw falls. You eventually start the long gradual descent through the forest, heading towards Laughing Falls. From here it's back down a well-used trail to the parking lot.
Start at the Parking Lot: As you can probably guess, this route starts with a long, gradual incline along the Yoho River to Laughing Falls. You'll head up through the forest, across the open ridge line, and then have a quick descent back to the Whiskey Jack Hostel.
You'll gain roughly 700 m of elevation on this trail regardless of which route you take, but we prefer starting at the Whiskey Jack Hostel.
Both directions boast beautiful views, and the middle of the hike provides a nice break because it is actually quite flat.
You have the option of cutting the trail by 4 km or so by taking the Celeste Lake trail, rather than heading up Yoho Pass.
Both are great options, but if you have the time and your legs are feeling up to it, we recommend doing the full circuit. The entire hike is magnificent and we don't want you to miss out!
4. mount hunter
Mount Hunter has a special place in our heart. It's the closest Yoho hike to Golden and when we want to escape for an afternoon but aren't sure where to go, this is where we tend to end up.
There are 2 lookout options for this hike. It's 3.4 km to lower lookout and 6.0 km to the upper lookout. You'll gain 945 m, much of which comes between the first and second lookout.
To access the trailhead of Mount Hunter you park in the Wapta Falls parking lot. You cross Hwy #1 and will see the start of the trail on the right.
This entire hike is forested which is nice on a hot day. Much of the hike follows the edge of the ridge and you don't have to hike for long to start getting amazing views opening up towards the west.
You'll know you've reached the first lookout when you come to an old decommissioned fire tower. If your legs have it in them we highly recommend you continue on to the second lookout.
The views from the second lookout are far superior and they'll have you looking down on the Kicking Horse River and Beaverfoot Valley.
We find there's always a really nice breeze at the top and there are lots of smooth bouldery areas to have a snack and catch your breath.
This hike feels like it really is in our backyard and it's a hike we enjoy coming back to every summer.
5. Whaleback Mountain
If you're looking for a 2 day hike, this is the one we recommend.
Whaleback Mountain is a rather strenuous 29 km hike up 2633 meters. It brings you to a wonderful, panoramic view of the Yoho Valley. There are two camping options along the way so it's easy to divide this hike into multiple days.
You can hike the loop in one day for a big accomplishment, but if you want to move at a more relaxed pace break it into two. You'll have more time to enjoy where you are, we recommend taking a couple.
This hike starts at the Takakkaw Falls parking lot. You have a couple options to complete this route. You can begin at the Whiskey Jack Hostel where you'll start a steep climb to the Iceline Trail. From there you'll eventually venture off to the left towards Whaleback. This option includes a steep climb to the top of the mountain, but you'll be rewarded with stunning mountain views.
The other option is to start via Laughing Falls. You'll walk alongside the Yoho River, gradually climbing until you reach Twin Falls. From here, you can hike up to Whaleback, with a very steep downhill section. This is a lot easier down than up, although you will want to be prepared for the steep descent. You will finish via the Iceline trail, which will take you to the Whiskey Jack Hostel parking lot.
This hike is magnificent and you will cross paths with many well-known trails in the area. It is a big mission, but for a multi day adventure in the Canadian Rockies, it’s well worth the effort!
Yoho National Park has so many other beautiful hikes to choose from. It's hard to pick favourites but these are ones to tend to go back to over and over again.
There is an abundance to see and do here and the hiking options are endless. Many of these trails link up with one another, so take a look at the map if you are feeling creative and ambitious.
Golden, B.C. is the gateway town to all the hikes in Yoho National Park. If you're looking for a quiet and comfortable place to stay in Golden, we recommend Whitewater Lodge.
If you're looking for other adventures to fill some time in Golden, whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River is a highlight for many people.
If you have any questions please get in touch. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a note in the comment section below.
Now go live an adventure!
Cheers from all of us here at Glacier