Iceline {Yoho National Park}

Iceline {Yoho National Park}

Iceline

  • Distance – 710 meters
  • Elevation – 20.8 km (more like 22 km)
  • Difficulty – Hard
  • TrailheadWhiskey Jack Hostel
  • Logistics – Loop hike

Every summer, I find myself making a million and twelve weekend adventure plans and doing my best to make all of them happen. What this means is that Friday at 4:30 pm, I shut down from work and a flurry of activity to get on the road ensues. Then adventuring happens until about Sunday at 10:00 pm when I dump all the remains of the fun from my car into piles to be sorted out and dealt with over the next few days – laundry, repacking what I need for the next weekend, charging the camera, researching new things to do, making a bunch of lists, and then doing what is on the to-do lists.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves hurtling towards the mountains without an exact plan in mind. All we know is where we are going to stay the first night and what the adventure options are. As we drive, plans firm up and decisions are made – after all, what if it is snowing? I mean, this is the Canadian Rockies and summer weeks are short up here!

Last weekend as I was sorting through adventure options from the passenger seat, an oldie but a goodie popped onto my radar. Having convinced my fellow adventurers for the weekend that seeing Moraine Lake at sunrise was a good idea, we were headed to Lake Louise which put Yoho hikes into play. I did Iceline a few years ago and have wanted to do it again ever since. Without much coercing, Iceline became the plan for Saturday.

  • Iceline is one of those hikes that you could do nearly every year and enjoy it every single time. 
Iceline Hike Yoho National Park
I love the mountains! Let the hiking adventure commence!

If you love hiking in a sea of mountain peaks, Iceline is the hike for you. This loop hike has incredible views and offers an interesting vantage point of Takakkaw Falls as you hike across the valley and are above it for much of the hike. Yoho is a lesser-known park with many gems and places to explore – if you have never been, put it on your list of places to explore!

Hiking details.

The trail starts at the Whiskey Jack Hostel. To get here, take Highway 1 to Yoho Valley Road which is 3.5 km from the turnoff to Field and 21.7 km from the onramp to Highway 1 in Lake Louise. Follow Yoho Valley Road 12.7 km and the entrance for the hostel will be on your left (west). You will be less than 1 km from the end of the road and Takakkaw Falls will be roaring and in view.

When you see the hostel road, just pull over and park on the side of the road. There will be other cars here, just make sure to get all the way off the road and onto the gravel as many cars will be passing through during the day.

Iceline Hike Yoho National Park
View of Takakkaw Falls from the shoulder about 2.5 km into the hike – the views just keep coming!

The Park Canada website lists Iceline as a 20.8 km hike. I ended up with nearly 23 km on my watch. The added kilometres come from going back and forth on the trail to look at beautiful things and also I don’t think they account for the distance from Takakkaw Falls back to your car, which is about 1 km.

The hike starts on the west side of the road and you start climbing immediately. Within 3 km of climbing, you are on the ridge and views of Takakkaw Falls and many mountains fill your field of vision. The climbing continues in small spurts as you ramble above treeline through glacier runoff, past small tarns, and along moraines for about 5 km.

Iceline Hike Yoho National Park
Sometimes you just need to climb on top of large rocks and be the conqueror that you are!
Iceline Yoho National Park
Mountains have a way of making you feel small…

As you continue on the trail, you will start to have some small descents and Takakkaw Falls will be firmly behind you. As you enter the trees, the trail turns right (east) at Stanley Mitchell Hut. Make sure to cross the bridge and walk through the hut grounds and start towards Laughing Falls.

Note: If you want to cut off 3 km of trail through trees, head down to Celeste Lake at the junction on the ridge. You are giving up some great views on the ridge if you do this, but if you are tired, this is a good option!

Keep going through the trees and follow the signs for Laughing Falls. 

Sometimes you just need to climb on top of large rocks and be the conqueror that you are!
Laughing Falls is worth a stop. If you are hot, a great place to soak your feet or get wet under the spray.

This little waterfall is tucked away on the Yoho Valley floor and worth a few minutes of exploration. Once you reach Laughing Falls, you are just under 4 km from Takakkaw Falls. Keep going along the valley paths until you reach the parking lot. Don’t miss getting wet under the spray of Takakkaw Falls before you head back through the trees to your car.

While under the spray of the falls, look across the valley and you can spot the ridge you just finished hiking. Somehow, it is hard to believe that you were just up there a few hours earlier.

Once you’re done exploring Canada’s third-largest waterfall, find your way back to your car where there should be more snacks, clean clothes, and water … and different shoes. I love peeling off my shoes and socks and putting on sandals after a long day of hiking.

Takakkaw Falls - Yoho National Park
Ending at one of the largest waterfalls in Canada is not a bad way to end an amazing day of views in the mountains!

There is a path back to the Whiskey Jack Hostel or you can take the road – whichever makes the most sense to you at the moment. By now, you’re tired, so just make sure you’re on your way back to your car!

Iceline is a full day, but a BEAUTIFUL day. 

If you’re in Yoho or the Lake Louise area and have a full day to go hiking, this is a hike you won’t regret!

Iceline Hike Yoho National park
Don’t forget to take your favourite person with you!

Feeling tired? Want all the views, but less mileage?

Simply start the hike from Whiskey Jack Hostel, hike up to the ridge and go as far as you want to go. Once you’re satisfied with your distance and the views, return the way you came. Making this a 10-14 km out and back is not a bad idea! The great thing about this trail is that you’re above treeline within 3 km and the views start and don’t stop for the next 5 km.

Enjoy!



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