The Iceline hike is a wonderful trail up past tree line to and along a ridge presenting beautiful vistas across the Yoho Valley of Takkakaw Falls as fast-receding glaciers teeter above you. You can make this longer or shorter depending on your energy.
Drive west from Banff or Lake Louise along the Trans-Canada Highway. Take the exit north towards Takkakaw Falls. If you reach Field BC, you have gone too far! Go for nearly 14.0km up the road until you see the parking area. Trailers are not allowed on this road.
|When to do|
June through October
Out and back
Walk 0.5km towards the HI Whiskey Jack Hostel, where you will find the trailhead (west side of the road). Keep in mind you cannot park at the hostel unless you’re staying there. Get on the trail and immediately start the steep climb through switchbacks. Don’t worry, it gets better. After a few hundred vertical meters you will find yourself above the treeline. If you can believe it, it wasn’t until recent trail updating that the route went above the forest and allowed for such spectacular views.
Once past the treeline a little climbing remains, but reinvigorate your legs with the view across the valley. You can see Takkakaw Falls and the Daly Glacier that feeds it. The trail moves through barren moraines and loose scree – a moonscape to say the least. Continue along the trail as it becomes increasingly flatter, passing three beautiful lakes. Take the time to relax by the water and, if it’s a nice day, soak in the view and warm yourself in the sun.
You can turn around any point you want and retrace your footsteps. Those who are more adventurous can descend into the basin and take a woodland trail through the Yoho River Valley. You could also make a big day and descend to the ACC Stanley Mitchell Hut and overnight as part of a longer route.
We prefer to go as far along the Iceline as we can before it starts to lose elevation and then we turn around and head back along the way we came, enjoying the views and staying high.
Save this hike for a clear day, as missing these amazing views would be a shame.
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