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Yoho National Park

Backpacking

Iceline Trail © Parks Canada / Caroline Marion
Hiking high above the Yoho Valley on the Iceline Trail.

Where to GoWhat to BringReservationsSafety | Trail Report

Warnings and Closures


Where to Go

Yoho Valley 

Takakkaw Falls is only the beginning! Yoho’s most spectacular backpacking begins in the Yoho Valley. Journey from here to Laughing Falls, Twin Falls, Yoho Pass, the Iceline, or the Little Yoho Valley. Strong hikers may access the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park via Goodsir Pass in Yoho. Alternatively, head west for unmaintained trails in the Amiskwi Valley or Ice River.

Trail Descriptions  

Campgrounds

Yoho National Park Backcountry Guide
Yoho Backcountry Guide
© Parks Canada
View a larger version of this map.

There are five backcountry campgrounds in Yoho. Four are in the Yoho and Little Yoho Valleys, accessed from the Takakkaw Falls trailhead. The fifth campground, McArthur Creek, is on the Ottertail River, which connects to the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park via Goodsir Pass. All campgrounds are equipped with: 

  • tent pads 
  • dry toilets 
  • communal picnic tables 
  • food storage cables or lockers

Contact the Yoho Visitor Centre in Field, B.C. to book your backcountry trip.

Looking for an early start? Spend the night at the Takakkaw Falls front-country campground just 300m from the parking lot. Alternatively, stay at the HI -Whiskey Jack Hostel, a short walk from the falls.

Huts

Stay at an Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) backcountry hut and leave your tent and stove at home! The ACC operates three backcountry huts in Yoho National Park: 

Advanced reservations are required. Contact the Alpine Club of Canada to plan your adventure.


Trail Descriptions

Trail Distance (round-trip) Time Elevation (m) Description
Easy Trails
Laughing Falls 8.8 km 2 days 125 A forested trail to a waterfall at the confluence of the Yoho and Little Yoho Rivers.
Moderate Trails
Yoho Pass 12.8 km 2 days 530 A lakeshore stroll to an alluvial fan, followed by switchbacks and waterfalls. Shuttle recommended. This trail joins with others in the Takakkaw Falls area.
Twin Falls 16.4 km 2 days 300 This forested trail passes Laughing Falls and carries on along the Yoho River to a spectacular double cascade and Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site.
Ottertail Valley to McArthur Creek 32.4 km 2 days 285 Walk or cycle up the Ottertail River to its confluence with McArthur Creek.
Difficult Trails
Iceline via Little Yoho 20.8 km 2 days 710 A signature circuit climbing to a high bench with spectacular glacier views, descending to meadows in the Little Yoho Valley and returning past Laughing Falls in the Yoho Valley.
Whaleback 21.3 km 2 days 700 A classic circuit taking in the Yoho Valley and Twin Falls from both above and below. Seasonal suspension bridge – check the trail report to ensure it is in.
Little Yoho Valley 18.6 km 2 days 520 A moderate to steep forested hike into a scenic hanging valley on the doorstep of many alpine climbs.
Goodsir Pass 25 km 2-3 days 910 A steep climb to a larch-laden pass with excellent views of the Goodsir peaks. Connects with Kootenay National Park’s classic Rockwall Trail multi-day route.

Laughing Falls

This trail leads to the Laughing Falls backcountry campround and is an access point for popular multiday backpacking routes.

Length: 8.8 km
Hiking time: 3 hours
Elevation: 125 m
Trailhead: Takakkaw Falls parking lot, 17 km east of Field via the Trans-Canada Highway and Yoho Valley Road. Note: Yoho Valley Road is open seasonally from mid-June through mid-October. Due to tight switchbacks, RVs and trailers are not permitted.
Habitat: Typical Yoho forest with moist groundcover. Watch for the very large fallen tree en route.

Description: A forested trail to a waterfall at the confluence of the Yoho and Little Yoho Rivers.  

Yoho Pass

There is a backcountry campround at Yoho Pass. This trail links the Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls areas.

Length: 12.8 km
Hiking time: 5 hours
Elevation: 530 m
Trailhead: Emerald Lake parking lot, 10 km west of Field, B.C. via the Trans-Canada Highway and Emerald Lake Road -OR- Takakkaw Falls parking lot, 17 km east of Field, B.C. via the Trans-Canada Highway and Yoho Valley Road. Note: Yoho Valley Road is open mid-June through mid-October. RVs and Trailers are not permitted due to steep switchbacks. (map)
Habitat: Lush Columbian forest. Watch for goats on the Burgess Highline.

Description: A lakeshore stroll to an alluvial fan, followed by switchbacks and waterfalls. Shuttle recommended. This trail joins with others in the Takakkaw Falls area.

Twin Falls

This trail leads to the Laughing Falls and Twin Falls backcountry camprounds.

Length: 16.4 km
Hiking time: 6 hours
Elevation: 300 m
Trailhead: Takakkaw Falls parking lot, 17 km northeast of Field via the Trans-Canada Highway and Yoho Valley Road. Note: Yoho Valley Road is open mid-June through mid-October. RVs and trailers are not permitted due to steep switchbacks.
Habitat: Drier, Rocky Mountain forest. Watch for goats above the falls.

Description: This forested trail passes Laughing Falls and carries on along the Yoho River to a spectacular double cascade and Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site. 

Ottertail Valley to McArthur Creek

This trail leads to the McArthur Creek backcountry campround.

Length: 32.4 km
Hiking time: 9 hours
Elevation: 285 m
Trailhead: Ottertail Parking lot, 8.3 km west of Field, B.C. on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway. (map)
Habitat: Sensitive and important wildlife habitat. Watch for bears, wolves, and goats.

Description: Walk or cycle up the Ottertail River to its confluence with McArthur Creek. 

Iceline via Little Yoho

This trail passes the Little Yoho and Laughing Falls backcountry camprounds.

Length: 20.8 km
Hiking time: 8 hours
Elevation: 710 m
Trailhead: Takakkaw Falls parking lot, 17 km east of Field, B.C. via the Trans-Canada Highway and Yoho Valley Road. Note: Yoho Valley Road is open mid-June through mid-October. RVs and trailers are not permitted due to steep switchbacks. (map)
Habitat: Glacial moraines in the high alpine. Watch for small mammals in subalpine rockpiles.

Description: A signature circuit climbing to a high bench with spectacular glacier views, descending to meadows in the Little Yoho Valley and returning past Laughing Falls in the Yoho Valley. 

Whaleback

This trail leads to Twin Falls backcountry campround.

Length: 21.3 km
Hiking time: 7 hours
Elevation: 520 m
Trailhead: Takakkaw Falls parking lot, 17 km east of Field, B.C. via the Trans-Canada Highway and Yoho Valley Road. (map)
Habitat: Sensitive alpine vegetation and good goat habitat. Watch for goat hair on the trees in the spring.

Description: A classic circuit taking in the Yoho Valley and Twin Falls from both above and below. Seasonal suspension bridge – check the trail report to ensure it is in. 

Little Yoho Valley

This trail includes the Laughing Falls and Little Yoho backcountry camprounds, as well as Stanley Mitchell Hut. Reservations for the hut are required and can be made in advance through the Alpine Club of Canada.

Length: 18.6 km
Hiking time: 7 hours
Elevation: 520 m
Trailhead: Takakkaw Falls parking lot, 17 km east of Field, B.C. via the Trans-Canada Highway and Yoho Valley Road. (map)
Habitat: Subalpine hanging valley. Good place to watch small mammals.

Description: A moderate to steep forested hike into a scenic hanging valley on the doorstep of many alpine climbs. 

Goodsir Pass

This trail leads to the McArthur Creek backcountry campground and continues to the Helmet Falls backcountry campground in Kootenay National Park.

Length: 25 km (one-way)
Hiking time: 2-3 days
Elevation: 915 m
Trailhead: Ottertail Parking lot, 8.3 km west of Field, B.C. on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Habitat: A thick forest leading to sub-alpine larch meadows and alpine slopes above. Watch for marmots at the pass.

Description: A steep climb to a larch-laden pass with excellent views of the Goodsir peaks. Connects with Kootenay National Park’s classic Rockwall Trail multi-day route.