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Iceline Trail is located in Yoho National Park just north of the town of Field, BC. Iceline Trail provides incredible views of the Yoho Valley and Takakkaw Falls. The trail switchbacks up the west side of the valley, then turns north and takes you past a glacier, alpine lakes, and waterfalls. This hike has a little bit of everything and on a beautiful day it can be truly magical.
Time Required: 6-8 Hours
Location: 17km north of Field
Distance: 25km round trip
Highest Elevation: 2300m
Elevation Gain: 800m
Difficulty: 7/10 – Rapid elevation gain, long hike
Season: June to September
Additional Requirements: N/A
From Calgary: Take the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) west approximately 210km to Yoho Valley Road. Turn right off the highway (there will be signs marking Yoho National Park) and follow that road past the Cathedral Mountain Lodge about 15km until you hit the parking lot.
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 6-8 hours of physical exertion.
- Snacks: Bring some of your favorite snacks to enjoy along the hike as well as a light lunch. 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: Iceline Trail is a large loop with a few different options for routes depending on the distance you want to hike. The route we took, and the one described in this guide, is roughly 25km and hits Takakkaw Falls, the glacier, Celeste Lake, Twin Falls and Laughing Falls.
Before starting the Iceline Trail we recommend checking out Takakkaw Falls (Route marker #1 on the map). It’s so close to the parking lot that you can’t pass up a chance to check out this behemoth of a waterfall. Pass over the bridge and follow the well-maintained trail to the base of the waterfall.
After checking out the falls you can backtrack to the main trail. Iceline Trail starts on the opposite side of the valley from Takakkaw Falls so you must cross the road to get over there. The Iceline Trail starts by climbing up the side of the valley. Most of the elevation gain for the hike is completed during the switchbacks through the forest until you reach the tree line (Route marker #2 on the map). After that the trail levels out and is more gradual.
From the top of the tree line we had an incredible view of the Yoho Valley and Takakkaw Falls. As you follow the trail it becomes very clear why it is called Iceline Trail. The trail runs parallel to the glacier and runoff creates waterfalls, streams and alpine lakes. It is quite easy to follow the trail but if you get lost look for inukshuk’s to get you back on track.
There are a few different length loops you can take but we took a right at the Celeste Lake Connector and then another right at Little Yoho Valley Trail in order to make our way to Twin Falls (Route marker #3 on the map). The Celeste connector is about 4km and the Little Yoho Valley Trail is roughly 500m before it turns into Marpole Lake Connector which took us to Twin Falls. The trails are all marked very well with signs and distances so navigation is fairly straight forward.
Twin Falls was the highlight of our hike. We climbed right up close to the falls to be able to really appreciate their size and beauty!
From Twin Falls we made our way back to the main Yoho Valley Trail. On the way back to the car we passed Laughing Falls (Route marker #4 on the map) which is another large waterfall worth checking out.
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Have fun out there!