Panorama from the Yoho Valley Circuit hike in Yoho National Park
Panorama from the Yoho Valley Circuit hike in Yoho National Park

Yoho Valley Circuit hike

Yoho National Park
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Hiking along the river on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaView of Twin Falls on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaCreek heading up over Whaleback on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaThe beautiful Twin Falls Chalet on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaThe ACC Stanley Mitchell Hut on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaHigh Alpine views below Whaleback Mountain on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaA mountain tarn on the Iceline Trail on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaWonderful views hiking the ice line on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaViews hiking the Iceline Trail on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaLarge Errata on the Iceline Trail on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaSnow on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaComing out of the trees on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaTakakkaw Falls on the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, CanadaView of the valley from the Yoho Valley Circuit Hike in Yoho National Park, Canada

Yoho Valley Circuit hike

Distance: 28.5km
Elevation: 1,395m
Time: 8-11h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.7 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

Hiking through the Yoho and Little Yoho valleys is spectacular! This route takes you along a circuit that takes in some of the best hiking in Canada. Hike to Twin Falls then up and over Whaleback before descending to the ACC’s Stanley Mitchell Hut. The trail leads up from there and along the Iceline hike. Wow!

Yoho Valley Circuit hike Map

Getting there

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.

I’ve done this 54 people have done this
I want to do this 48 want to do this route

About

When to do

July through September

Backcountry Campsites

Yes

Toilets

Yes, at trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Circuit


Yoho Valley Circuit
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Yoho Valley Circuit

This is the type of hike you’ll want to get an early start for! It’s a long day, with a lot of uphill.

Before starting this hike, you’ll probably be distracted by Takakkaw Falls. These waters fall 302m at Takakkaw Falls, and it is beautiful to look at, some might even say distracting!

From the parking lot at the end of the road, head north, walking through the Takakkaw Falls Campground. You will go through open areas and forest, along a wide path. You will occasionally come down towards the Yoho River, which gives wonderful views.

After 4.4km you reach the Laughing Falls Backcountry Campground, here the path splits, you can go either way, however we prefer to go counter-clockwise (right) for this route. Take the right path as it goes along Twin Falls Creek. In 2.2km you reach another backcountry campground, this one Twin Falls Campground. From here it’s another 1.6km uphill to Twin Falls Chalet. Stop here and enjoy a break. Talk with Fran Drummond, the owner, who can relate great stories of the history of the area.

Head uphill on the Whaleback trail and check out the Twin Falls. Be very careful when looking at Twin Falls. Accidents here are common, with fatalities occurring, often from people taking photos or getting close to the edge. We like to roam around and look at different viewpoints of the falls, often taking a longer break here.

Go above the falls and follow the Whaleback trail, eventually as it crosses Twin Falls Creek. You are now on the edge of the forest, coming out into the Alpine from time to time. We love the views here, especially the stunning colours. Continue hiking over Whaleback, for us this is the best part of the walk. Eventually you reach a viewpoint. From here the trail heads steadily downhill. This switchback can be slippery in rain and is steep in places.

As you descend you come to an intersection with the Iceline Trail. You’ll get on the Iceline Trail, just not yet. Instead head right (west) up towards the ACC Stanley Mitchell Hut. The route will be above the Little Yoho River and in the forest. Coming to a clearing you will see the beautiful Stanley Mitchell Hut. The Stanley Mitchell Hut is an Alpine Club of Canada log cabin. This is a charming base if you want to make this an overnight trip.

From the Stanley Mitchell Hut, head south, with The Secretary Treasurer looming overhead. You are now hiking on a well-maintained trail that gains about 200m as it ascends above tree-line and onto the Iceline Trail. The views once you are above tree-line are spectacular. Soon the trail comes to some mountain lakes. These beautiful lakes make for incredible photos.

Follow the Iceline trail across the glacial rock, enjoying stunning views in all directions. Don’t forget to turn around, as some of the best views are to the North. Farther along, you can make an optional ascent to the high-point of this trail which is in-between the 1st and 2nd lake.

As you come to the third lake, you will notice a trail going down to the left. This is the Celeste Lake Connector. If there is bad weather, especially lightening, then you can go down here, however we prefer to stay up high on the Iceline Trail with the stunning views.

Finally, after a wonderful 7.0km+ hike above tree line and 300m of descent from the high-point on the Iceline trail, the trail splits, with the upper (right-hand) trail heading towards Yoho Lake, while the trail you want to take being the left-hand trail, which continues the descent, soon entering the trees where it steeply descends with a number of switchbacks.

You come out of the trees and reach a road. To your right is the HI-Yoho Whiskey Jack Hostel, a good budget accommodation if you want to spend more time exploring the valley. From here you can either turn left along the road and head back to your car or take the more scenic route that crosses the road and goes through the trees before coming out along the Yoho River. The more scenic route affords some wonderful views!

Insider Hints

  • Consider breaking this trip up, either with a stay at ACC Stanley Mitchell Hut or Twin Falls Chalet.

  • The road to the start of this hike is not suitable for trailers, and driving with trailers is illegal. This is because there are some narrow switchbacks that can be hard for large cars to navigate.

  • This is a big day, make sure you’re fully prepared with sufficient food, water (or water treatment) a first-aid kit and a headlamp (in case you need to come down in the dark).

  • Consider a stay at Cathedral Mountain Lodge, which is at the base of the Yoho Valley Road. This underappreciated gem is a great place to stay if you want an early start for this hike.

Comments

isaacanderson 6 months ago

It was very challenging but well worth the exertion.

10.0 Overall Rating
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AnnSue 6 months ago

We surely had a long hike, and we got exhausted, but the views are incomparable! The best reward you can only get for trying so hard!

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10h 00m Time Taken
Aleysha C. 7 months ago

Great Hike! You will see great views of Takakkaw Falls and the Daly Glacier to the East and the Emerald Glacier

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9h 00m Time Taken
David L. 7 months ago

takes a lot of effort to make it up there but the views along the way and at the destination are quite stunning! it's ok to stop and rest once you're tired.it will help a lot.

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WendyMag. 7 months ago

One of the spectacular waterfalls ever. Other falls along trail nice too, but the reward is Twin Falls.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Meighan 8 months ago

One of the most wonderful hikes I’ve done. Lakes and waterfalls. It doesn’t get much better than this.

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Kenneth D. 8 months ago

Awesome hike! Strenuous trails and not very busy! Better prepare physically, if you plan to do this hike. The view from the top is totally worth it all!

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Suzane L. 8 months ago

Ascending to the top was pretty challenging because of the steep inclines. One of the best things about this hike is that you'll get to see an incredible view of Takakkaw Falls.

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Jude L. 9 months ago

The views were not questionable, absolutely beautiful! However, It was a long and arduous hike! My back and knees were aching after 11 hours of hike.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
Jessica G. 9 months ago

It's harder than what I've expected, but the view at the top made it worth it. Hiking along the Iceline is pretty cool!

10.0 Overall Rating
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20 Comments Show all

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