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Yamnuska (Mt. Laurie) is a moderate scramble with unique elements that make it a very fun and popular hike. Highlights include an exciting walk along the ledge of a cliff assisted by a chain, a great scree slope for the descent, and a spectacular view of both the mountains and prairies.
Time Required: 3-4 Hours
Location: 65 km west of Calgary off of Hwy 1A
Distance: 10.5 km round trip
Highest Elevation: 2240m
Elevation Gain: 900m
Difficulty: 7/10 – Route finding, rapid elevation gain, and basic scrambling.
Season: June to mid-October
Additional Requirements: N/A
From Calgary: Take the Trans Canada (Hwy 1) west approximately 65 km to Hwy 1X (exit 114). Follow 1X 3.5 km north to Hwy 1A and head 2km east. Turn left into the marked Yamnuska day use area.
From Canmore: Take the Trans Canada (Hwy 1) east approximately 20 km to Hwy 1X (exit 114). Follow 1X 3.5 km north to Hwy 1A and head 2km east. Turn left into the marked Yamnuska day use area.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Footwear: Hiking shoes.Make sure your shoes are broken in prior to tackling this hike to prevent unexpected blisters. You could get away with running shoes but having extra grip on the rock surfaces will definitely come in handy!
- Water: This hike is long with lots of elevation gain.Be sure to bring enough water for 3-4 hours of physical exertion.
- Snacks: Bring some of your favorite snacks to enjoy along the hike as well as a light lunch for when you arrive at the summit. Some of our favorite snacks are trail mix, bananas, beef jerky and licorice.
- Weather appropriate clothing: You will be exposed to the elements throughout this hike. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
- Sunscreen: If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
- Insect Repellent: Insect repellent can greatly improve your hiking experience.
- Bear Spray: You are in bear country. Always hike with bear spray that is easily accessible.
- Camera: There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss.
- This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike
Wildlife: You will be hiking in bear country. It is always advisable to check in at the local Visitor Information Center to learn of any trail closures due to wildlife. Carry bear spray in an easily accessible location. Travel in groups of multiple hikers and make lots of noise to avoid an unexpected encounter.
Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.
To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca
Summary: The starting point for this hike is at the Yamnuska day use area. From there you will hike around the east side of the mountain and ascend the north face. On the descent you will make your way around the west side of the mountain and take the scree slope down under the south cliff face to return to the day use area.
Follow the trail from the parking lot (Route marker #1 on the map) about 500m to a sign that shows climbers to the left, hikers to the right (Route marker #2 on the map). Take the route to the right
The path will wind through the forest to the bottom of the east side of the main cliff face. From this point on there is some scrambling required to reach the mountain’s summit.
The easiest path is conveniently marked with blue spray painted squares. The path begins by climbing through the Chimney in the cliff (Route marker #3 on the map).
Follow the path from one blue square to the next winding your way up the north side of the mountain.
You will eventually come to a narrow path along the edge of a cliff with a chain to hang onto as you traverse (Route marker #4 on the map). Follow the chain across the side of the cliff and then down a small ledge. From here follow the path as it dips below the next cliff before ascending to the summit (Route marker #5 on the map).
You can descend the mountain the same way you came, but the fastest, and most fun, route down is the path to the west side of the cliff face. Take the trail down the scree to the west. You will eventually wrap around to the south side of the cliff face.
Once under the south cliff face follow the path as far to the east as you can go. There will be a few paths that appear to head down the scree slope below but you want to continue as far as you can to the very last one (Route marker #6 on the map). Take the last scree shoot that cuts straight down and continues as a path into the trees below. The descent down the slope is a lot of fun as you can run or hop down the loose scree all the way to the trees below.
Once you are back in the trees follow the marked path to the sign you passed on the way up pointing climbers left and hikers right (Route marker #2 on the map). From the sign follow the trail down back to the parking lot.
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Have fun out there!