hikes in Yoho National Park
Yoho, the Cree word for ‘awe’ is the perfect description for this stunning part of the Canadian Rockies. Located just northwest of Lake Louise, Yoho National Park is known for its looming peaks, thundering waterfalls and fossil-rich rocks, and is covered in fantastic hiking trails. True to its name, Yoho National Park is the perfect destination for an awe-inspiring hiking trip.
Yoho National Park sits on the watershed of the Kicking Horse River, and its ice cold, glacier fed waters rush through the landscape. Boasting classic Rocky Mountain scenery, Yoho is filled with towering, craggy peaks, incredible waterfalls, and gorgeous turquoise lakes. Hiking here is a pure delight, with trails to suit all ages and ability levels.
Yoho National Park is also known as an important site for fossils, covering the incredible Burgess Shale. This layer of rock dates back over 500 million years and offers a rare and unique glimpse of one of the earliest marine ecosystems on earth. The Burgess Shale is of such scientific importance, the area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a trip to Yoho National Park is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the evolution of early life.
Yoho National Park is one of the smaller parks in the Canadian Rockies, which means it has an intimate feel, despite being filled with immense, snow-capped mountains and thundering waterfalls! This beautiful region is heaven for hikers, and we think it should be on everyone’s bucket list. To give you a little inspiration for your next trip, we’ve put together a list of our favorite hikes and some insider tips on hiking in Yoho National Park. Happy hiking!
The 12 Greatest Hikes In Yoho National Park
Yoho National Park is one of the most accessible of the national parks in the Canadian Rockies, with plenty of trails to suit all fitness and ability levels. For those travelling with young children, Yoho National Park is a pure delight. Kids will love watching the dramatic cascading waters at the Takakkaw and Wapta Falls, fossil hunting at the Burgess Shale, or rambling through the atmospheric forests that are found within the park. There are plenty of easy hikes suitable for children, beginner hikers, or those simply in search of a relaxing day out in spectacular scenery.
However, if you’re looking for more of a challenge, Yoho National Park boasts some classic Rocky Mountain hikes, climbing high up to dramatic ridges with views that will take your breath away. Although the park itself is relatively compact, you’ll enjoy a fabulous diversity of scenery, moving from dense cedar forests, tranquil turquoise lakes and green wildflower meadows to otherworldly boulder fields and bare, rugged peaks, all within the same hike! There’s something here to please all hikers.
Easy Hikes In Yoho National Park
Emerald Lake Circuit Hike: This easy, family-friendly hike will take you around the beautiful Emerald Lake, a gorgeous turquoise lake set amidst fabulous Rocky Mountain scenery. The path contours the lake, passing through varied terrain, including a forested path surrounded by cedar and hemlock. Kids will love this beautiful spot, one of our favorite easy hikes in Yoho National Park.
Family Hikes In Yoho National Park
Wapta Falls Hike: The easy, well maintained trail to Wapta Falls is one of the best family hikes in Yoho National Park! It’s a great place to come with young kids or pets, and offers a fabulous vista over the 30m thundering waterfall, otherwise known as the ‘Niagara of Yoho’. The surrounding countryside is populated by a wide variety of trees, including red cedar and Douglas fir, and it’s a great place to see birds of prey or kingfishers.
Day Hikes In Yoho National Park
Twin Falls and Whaleback Hike: If you’re looking for a satisfying day hike in Yoho National Park, this beautiful route has it all. The trail passes along Twin Falls Creek until you come to the falls themselves –a wonderful place for a refreshing pit stop! Above the falls, the path will take you over Whaleback, with gorgeous views over the forest and mountains.
Challenging Hikes In Yoho National Park
Yoho Valley Circuit Hike: This stunning circuit will take you through the Yoho and Little Yoho Valleys, and through some of the loveliest scenery in British Columbia. It’s a tough day hike, with some steep uphill sections, but the views as you hike along the Iceline Trail are simply spectacular. This is one of our favorite challenging hikes in Yoho National Park.
Other Amazing Hikes In Yoho National Park
Yoho Lake Hike: Looking for a short, easy hike in Yoho National Park? This beautiful route to Yoho Lake is a great way to escape the crowds and experience the stunning Rocky Mountain scenery without wearing yourself out. The route offers wonderful views of Takakkaw Falls and meanders gently through subalpine forest, clad in colorful wildflowers. When you finally reach Yoho Lake you’ll be treated to a fantastic view of Mount Wapta and Michaels Peak.
Niles Meadow and Sherbrooke Lake Hike: The fantastic hike to Niles Meadow is a Yoho National Park classic, passing by Sherbrooke Lake. The route is relatively strenuous, with some steep climbing and route finding required, but there are plenty of beautiful sights to distract you along the way. Expect to see lovely waterfalls and picturesque meadows in addition to the fabulous mountain vista. This is one of the best hikes in Yoho National Park.
Hamilton Lake Hike: This challenging day hike is one of the lesser-known routes in Yoho National Park, and a great option if you’re looking for a way to escape the crowds. The trail ascends through a dense forest of red cedar and Douglas fir, before emerging to traverse the avalanche slopes of Emerald Peak. Hamilton Lake is simply stunning, with dark green waters and a stunning rocky backdrop comprising Emerald Lake and Mount Canarvon.
Paget Lookout and Sherbrooke Lake Hike: The combination of Paget Lookout and Sherbrooke Lake makes this route one of the best hikes in Yoho National Park! Paget Fire Lookout offers spectacular views over Kicking Horse Pass and Kicking Horse Valley, and was once used by park rangers to watch for forest fires. The trail continues down through stunning wildflower meadows all the way to Sherbrooke Lake, the third largest lake in Yoho National Park.
Lake McArthur Hike: The hike to Lake McArthur is one of the best hikes in Yoho National Park, offering lush scenery and jaw-dropping views. The lake falls within the Lake O’Hara area, so you’ll need to reserve a place on the access bus provided by Parks Canada, or hike the 11km to the trailhead. The trail is not too strenuous, and the landscape is simply beautiful. Come in early autumn when the larch forests are at their best!
Emerald Basin Hike: One of the best aspects of hiking in Yoho National Park is the fantastic diversity of scenery, and this hike really shows it off at its best. The route follows the shoreline of Emerald Lake, and then climbs up the side of the canyon formed by the Emerald River. You’ll continue through dense forest, wildflower meadows, and past cascading waterfalls before arriving at the beautiful Emerald Glacier. This hike is a fantastic way to spend a morning in Yoho National Park.
Iceline Hike: The Iceline is another classic Yoho hike, ascending steeply up and beyond the tree line for some breath-taking views. The trail passes over barren moraines and loose scree slopes, with a fantastic view of the Takakkaw Falls and the Daly Glacier. This otherworldly landscape is truly remarkable, continuing to three beautiful lakes before descending to the Yoho River Valley. The route can be extended or shortened depending on how much time you have to spare.
Lake O’Hara All Souls Route Hike: The All Souls Route at Lake O’Hara is a truly spectacular hike, set in classic Canadian Rockies scenery. It’s a relatively challenging route, passing over boulder fields, grassy plateaus, and high mountain passes, but you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views over the mountains. Lake O’Hara is a protected area and access is limited by Parks Canada. Book ahead to secure a place on the bus, or hike the 11km to the trailhead.
When Is The Best Time To Hike In Yoho National Park?
Although it’s possible to visit Yoho National Park all year round, the peak hiking season runs from the end of May until mid-October. As with other parks in the Canadian Rockies, the trails and campgrounds are busiest in July and August, when the weather is fine, the routes are clear of snow, and wildflowers create a carpet of color in the meadows. The downside of a trip to Yoho in the peak of summer is the fact that the park is likely to be busy, and popular campgrounds and trails can quickly become saturated. Aim to come early or late in the season, although be warned that many of the higher-elevation trails can remain covered in snow until mid-June. Autumn is a particularly lovely time to visit, as the larch forests show off their fine colors.
Other Outdoor Activities In Yoho National Park
Hiking might be the most popular thing to do, but there are also plenty of other outdoor activities in Yoho National Park! If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, you’ll find lots of possibilities, including backpacking and camping, rock climbing, cycling, fishing and wildlife watching! In winter, Yoho National Park is a fantastic place for winter hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and even ice climbing. There’s no shortage of wonderful activities in the park all year round, making Yoho the ideal place to come and enjoy the marvelous scenery of the Canadian Rockies.
How To Plan A Trip To Yoho National Park
If these hike descriptions have convinced you to put Yoho National Park on your bucket list, start planning your trip today! We’ve put together plenty of useful information and insider tips in our guide to visiting Yoho National Park. You’ll find advice on how to get there and around the region, accommodation and restaurant recommendations, and of course, all of our favorite hikes in Yoho and the Icefields Parkway region. If you’re planning to visit when the park is covered in snow, don’t miss our guide to Lake O’Hara in winter! Whenever you choose to go, we’ve got all the information you’ll need to make your trip truly memorable.
Frequently-Asked-Questions About Yoho National Park
How far is Yoho from Banff?
Yoho National Park is situated northwest of Lake Louise, close to the Icefields Parkway. If you’re driving from Banff, the 83km trip usually takes around one hour. Yoho is 28km, and a 20-minute drive from Lake Louise.
What does Yoho mean in English?
Yoho National Park gets its name from a Cree expression meaning ‘amazement’ or ‘awe’. Once you’ve gazed upon the magnificent mountains and resplendent scenery of this beautiful part of the Canadian Rockies, you’ll understand why!
Are there bears in Yoho National Park?
Like other parts of the Canadian Rockies, Yoho National Park is an important habitat for black bears and grizzly bears. Although encounters between bears and humans are relatively rare, it’s important to follow advice and take precautions when hiking, especially in the backcountry. Carry bear spray when you’re out on the trail, and when camping, lock all food in a bear-proof container.
The best hikes in Yoho National Park
Yes, there are more than 10
Yoho National Park is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Yoho National Park that you should take a look at as well
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