Iceline-Twin Falls Trail,
Yoho National Park
Distance: 20 miles Time: 10 hours Type: Round trip
The Iceline hike in Yoho Valley is considered by many to be one of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies. It has it all: a climb to a glacier with spectacular valley views, three sets of vertiginous waterfalls, an exquisite emerald lake, a flower alpine meadow, thundering rapids and a tranquil walk along a broad valley floor to finish. What more could you ask for? To hike both the Iceline and to Twin Falls makes for a long day's walk but, without doubt, an unforgettable one.
The Yoho Valley is located near the town of Field on the north side of Highway 1, in Yoho National Park. Here is a link to a map showing hiking routes in the park:
We were staying at the Takkakaw Falls Campground, a walk-in campsite by the Yoho River with unbeatable views of the falls just a couple of hundred metres away.
Our intial plan had been to stay at the Whiskey Jack Hostel but when we arrived and realised that the hostel does not have any electricity, phone or internet connection, we decided to cancel our booking and grab a tent spot down the road instead. After 10 days camping, the main purpose for staying a night in the hostel was to recharge our electrical devices (and possibly have a shower) so even though the Whiskey Jack had a great location and friendly atmospheric we much preferred to camp.
It turned out to be a great decision because the Falls Campground is one of the best we stayed at in the Rockies. A 15-minute walk from the road, the site is pretty idyllic. Returning back to our tent at the end of a long day's hike, cooking dinner right by the river and waking up the next morning to the sound of the falls: it does not get much better than that.
There are various possible ways to combine the hiking trails in the Yoho valley. We began with the Iceline hike, descending via Celeste Lake and onward to Twin Falls before returning by the path along the valley floor which broadly follows the Yoho River. The route included most of the highlights of the valley and made a full day's walk, starting and ending at the campsite.
The Iceline hike begins by climbing the western side of the valley, the trailhead located near to the Whisky Jack Hostel. An alternative trail from here leads to Emerald Lake, another fantastic hike. The Iceline trail climbs for the first hour until you have an expeansive view back toward Takkakaw Falls, and then heads north, eventually passing close to the Emerald Glacier. Around here there is also a small hill affording even better views and a great opportunity for a silhouette photo.
Until here, the trail has been pretty exposed but as it now begins to drop back down you approach tree cover. At a junction you can either head down to the western side of the Little Yoho Valley or can head straight toward Twin Falls, as we did. Shortly further along this trail you pass Celeste Lake, a beautiful green lake, before crossing Little Yoho River and arriving at Twin Falls, an amazing waterfall consisting of two separate flows coverging mid-air.
Most of the hard work is over at this point: from here the trail is fairly flat, following the Yoho River along the valley floor. You pass some more waterfalls - Laughing Falls - before the valley widens. Just before returning to the campsire you cross a stream by a bridge. We took a quick dip at this point to cool off before arriving back at our tent around 7pm, a good time for some dinner.