Hiking in the Canadian Rockies
The National Parks of the Canadian Rockies may best be expressed through the native Cree word “Yoho,” meaning truly magnificent or awesome. It is within Yoho National Park, B.C., Banff National Park, AB and Jasper National Park, AB, that we bring to you our Mountain Series of the Canadian Rockies. The Canadian Rockies possess some of the worlds most magnificent peaks that careen vertically out of lush river valleys; crystal clear lakes that magnify the emerald and turquoise colors of the stone below; glaciers and icefields so massive that one can visualize the formation of this wild landscape in action. The beauty and scale of the Canadian Rockies is seemingly endless, with awe-inspiring natural grandeur literally everywhere you turn.
Our journey through the Canadian Rockies begins at the picturesque village of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. At a mere 5,052 feet in elevation, you will have no problem exploring the plethora of short hiking trails that surround this idyllic mountain town on our first day in the park. On day two, we will hike through Paradise Valley to Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. Day three, we venture off the foot trails and onto the Columbia Icefields for the truly unique experience of a glacier hike in Jasper National Park. Day four begins our overnight trek to a backcountry cabin via the classic Yoho Valley trail. We culminate our hiking journey on day five by traversing the world-famous Iceline Trail to stunning Emerald Lake. Day six is a travel day and farewell to a truly “Yoho” journey. We will have two Discover Outdoors guides to assist with any contingency plans, and to uphold our singular goal for you to have an amazing and safe experience.
As you explore the Canadian Rockies, you will be led by professional trail guides dedicated to providing safe and educational experiences. Our guides are trained in wilderness medicine and are seasoned leaders, demonstrating good judgement, technical expertise, and environmental consciousness. Our guides are ever aware of their client's needs and work hard to make your trip successful.
Each evening you will retire to our exclusive boutique-style hostel in the picturesque village of Field, B.C. Tucked away in the Kicking Horse Valley and surrounded by magnificent peaks, lakes and rivers, Field is the ideal launching point for this week-long adventure. Our exclusive access to the hostel ensures a comfortable experience with ample room to kick back, relax and discuss the conquests of the day. Bedrooms are shared, with single beds as well as bunks and pillow-top mattresses with cotton sheets. Amenities include a wood burning stove, outdoor deck and grill, shared bathrooms with showers, full kitchen and dining room, a comfy lounge and individual storage lockers.
We will spend one night at a backcountry cabin, seven miles up the Yoho Valley by foot. The cabin, while rustic, is spacious and cozy and above all, situated in the middle of the Yoho wilderness and surrounded by massive mountains, glaciers and streams. Bedrooms here are also shared, with single beds as well as bunks. Bathrooms are outdoor composting toilets and there are no showers. Amenities include a wood burning stove, full kitchen with propane oven & range, and propane lights. Our water comes from a nearby stream.
We will have the hostel fully stocked with food and drinks for the entire week. Your guides will prepare a delicious dinner each night and a hearty breakfast every morning. The kitchen will be open at all times and stocked with everything you need to pack a nutritious trail lunch. Meals at the backcountry cabin are the same, however you will be expected to carry a portion of the food into the cabin. The only meals not included are during your travel days, however dinner at the hut will be included the first night and breakfast on the last morning.
- Professional trail guides
- Almost every meal
- Hostel accommodations
- Backcountry cabin
- Park entrance fees
- Glacier hike and technical gear
- Roundtrip transportation from Calgary International Airport
DOES NOT INCLUDE
- Airfare to Calgary International Airport
- Some meals
- Gratuity for your guides
Three National Parks in One Magnificent Adventure!
Arrive in the Canadian Rockies
Several airlines offer affordable direct flights from Newark to Calgary International Airport. Upon landing, your Discover Outdoors guide will drive you and your fellow hikers to Field, B.C., where we will settle into our hostel and unwind before an afternoon of casual hiking. This afternoon we will explore the hiking trails around Lake Louise and the most iconic natural wonders of Banff National Park. This evening will be a time for relaxing on the deck or by the fire in the hostel, or exploring the tiny village of Field while getting to know your group. Over dinner, we will go over the itinerary for the days ahead and discuss any questions you have.
THE CANADIAN ROCKIES
Four contiguous national parks comprise the Canadian Rockies’ UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our Mountain Series explores three of these parks: Banff, Yoho and Jasper. This wild playground is home to over 13,000 square miles of protected land encompassing countless high peaks, shifting glaciers, emerald lakes, glistening streams and wildlife of all kinds. The Canadian Rockies are part of the American Cordillera, an uninterrupted mountain range that stretches from Northwestern Alaska to Southern Patagonia.
Paradise Valley, Banff National Park
On your first morning in the park, your guides will welcome you with hot drinks and a hearty breakfast while reviewing the plan for the day. Our destination today is Paradise Valley, a place-name that needs no introduction. Starting from the southern outskirts of Lake Louise Village, the hiking trail parallels the strong waters of Paradise Creek through lush pine forests and wildflower meadows.As the trail approaches treeline, the first views of Mt. Temple are guaranteed to shock your sense of scale. With continued elevation gain, you will hike past turbulent waterfalls, wide open alpine plateaus and massive glaciers to compliment the high peak grandeur. Today’s hike ends at Moraine Lake, a glacially fed body of water so captivating that its image found its way to the Canadian twenty dollar bill and has served as inspiration for countless artists. After a substantial day on the trail, we return to our hostel for a well-earned shower and some rest and relaxation over Hors d’oeuvres. Evening activities include attempting to edit the digital images of the day, a game of cards in the lounge, shootin’ the breeze over a cold beer on the deck, or just curling up with a good book. As always, a hearty dinner will be prepared by your Discover Outdoors guides.
- Hiking Distance 10.4 miles
- Elevation Gain 3,000 feet
Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park
Today, we trade trail shoes and trekking poles for crampons and ice axes. Our destination is the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park, about a 1.5 hour drive from Field. No experience is necessary to navigate these massive glaciers; our specialty glacier guides will ensure that you are properly outfitted and guided safely across the glacier. Over the course of the day, we will traverse the lower Athabasca Glacier, trekking over frozen hills and valleys and culminating with an ascent into one of the massive icefalls on the glacier. This is a guided interpretive hike designed specifically for the adventurous person with a desire to explore the world of glacier ice.Back at the hostel, well-deserved cold beverages and lip-smacking dinner await. After dinner, we will review the logistics for tomorrow’s backcountry cabin adventure, and give you a chance to pack your bag for an overnight in the wilderness.
- Hiking Distance 4.8 miles
- Elevation Gain 500 (glacial) feet
Yoho National Park and Stanley Mitchell Cabin
Today, we continue our easy-living routine by rising with the sun and fueling our bodies with a hearty breakfast. However, when we depart the hostel for the day, we will not return until the following night. For the next two days, we will trek through Yoho National Park and stay at the Stanley Mitchell Cabin, nestled in the hanging valley of Little Yoho.We begin the two day trek at the Twin Falls trailhead, a short drive from our hostel. From Twin Falls, the trail snakes its way through a mesmerizing abundance of waterfalls with names like “Angel Falls” and “Laughing Falls,” all within the lush, forested canopy of green pines and greener mosses. The trail continues into the heart of Yoho to our final destination and home for the night at the Stanley Mitchell cabin. At 6,742 feet, this remote yet surprisingly comfortable cabin is tucked away behind the President Mountain range, and at the edge of the impressive Emerald Glacier. Once settled into the cabin, you can unwind and watch the setting sun from one of the most peaceful settings on earth.
- Hiking Distance 7.4 miles
- Elevation Gain 1,800 feet
Iceline Trail and Emerald Lake
Waking up in the Canadian Rocky wilderness is an experience few get to behold. The stillness of the morning is interrupted only by the rushing of a nearby river, the chirping of mountain birds, or the bugle of an elk. This morning, we will enjoy a hearty backcountry breakfast, load up our packs and head for the Iceline Trail, the premiere hiking trail in the region.Throughout the course of the day, we will rise above the thick forests and enter the glacial moraine zone. We will hike along the edge of the Emerald Glacier and Vice President Mountain before eventually descending into the expansive high-alpine Yoho plateaus. The Iceline trail affords visitors to Yoho a chance to witness glacial activity in person, as the Emerald Glacier deposits rock moraines, large boulders and receding scars across the trail. Finally, we end our journey at Emerald Lake, a micro-climate of rich biodiversity and vivid watercolors. Offering the most mesmerizing landscapes in all of the Canadian Rockies, the Iceline Trail and Emerald Lake provide a capstone experience to our Mountain Series of the Canadian Rockies and a chance to emphatically yell “Yoho!” Tonight we celebrate and toast to new friends and to an amazing week of Rocky Mountain adventures.
- Hiking Distance 10.4 miles
- Elevation Gain 1,500 feet
Final Day in Canada
After sleeping in and enjoying a leisurely breakfast, we pack up our bags and say goodbye to our beloved hostel and the Canadian Rockies. Your guides will drive you to the Calgary International Airport for your flight home. Keep your camera out for the drive along Bow Valley, as the Trans-Canada highway bisects Banff and can offer some amazing last minute panoramas for your collection.
This event or trip is Intensity Level 5.
ADVENTURES AT ALL SKILL LEVELS
We offer adventures for everyone, no matter what your skill level. This guide will help you decide which trip is right for you.
How long (in hours) you may be active every day during the trip.
You should feel confident that you would be able to complete these distances every day of your trip.
What types of terrain you may encounter and should be prepared for on your trip.
The largest elevation change you may encounter on your trip.
The highest elevation you may reach on your trip.
LAID-BACK, UNHURRIED, RESTFUL
Welcome to the outdoors! These trips are designed to introduce you to new challenges and new adventurers. Take in the scenery, tackle moderate elevation, experience some local flavor, and enjoy your day out of the office.
You can expect to be active for one to two hours. To prepare, walk around your neighborhood for at least one hour to make sure you’re comfortable being outdoors and active.
For our Level 1 trips, you’ll be walking or hiking less than three miles. This is the equivalent of up to twelve laps around a quarter-mile track.
You’ll be walking on flat terrain. This means there will be limited rocks and a few tree roots.
There will be little or no elevation change on this trip. To simulate the change in elevation, try walking up and down three flights of stairs.
From sea level to 3,000 feet.
Level 2 trips complement introductory activities you would encounter on Level 1 trips and will whet the appetite of anybody looking to explore outdoor sports. Your group may stop occasionally to learn about the natural surroundings and their local lore.
You can expect to be active for two to three hours. Take a long walk around your local park for at least two hours to prepare.
Level 2 trips range from two to four miles. This is approximately eight to sixteen laps around a quarter-mile track.
You’ll be walking on mostly flat terrain and may encounter some rocks and tree roots.
There will be minimal elevation change on this trip. We will gain no more than 500 vertical feet.
From sea level to 3,000 feet.
EASY ACTIVE — PERFECT FOR ACTIVE FIRST-TIMERS
Level 3 trips will give you a broad sense of what hiking is all about. Test yourself on intermediate terrain, including light rock scrambles and ascending multiple peaks. The trips will invigorate you and inspire you to continue strengthening your hiking skills.
Three to five hours is standard. Prepare for the trip by jogging three miles or exercising two or three days a week.
Plan on getting starter miles under your belt. You’ll be hiking three to six miles on this trip, the average distance run in an hour-long basketball game.
You’ll be hiking on rolling terrain with bare rock surfaces, steeps, roots and small boulders.
There could be up to 1,000 feet per day.
Up to 4,500 feet.
IDEAL FOR ACTIVE BEGINNERS AND FORMER PARTICIPANTS
Level 4 trips balance physical and aesthetic components of the day. Get your heart pumping on intermediate terrain with some rock scrambles and multiple peaks, then enjoy a well-earned break with a stunning view. These trips are effective preparation for even more challenging weekend-long trips.
Trail time ranges from for four to six hours. You should be in good physical shape and exercise at least three times a week to get the most out of the day.
You’ll be traveling five to eight miles on this trip, the average distance run in an hour-long soccer game.
You’ll be hiking on steadily rising terrain with loose rock surfaces, switchbacks, roots and small boulders.
Up to 1,500 feet per day.
Up to 6,000 feet.
MODERATE — FOR SKILLED BEGINNERS AND INTERMEDIATE PARTICIPANTS
Level 5 trips place greater emphasis challenging you physically. Whether you’re still new to the scene or have some experience, you’ll appreciate a more deliberate pace with a capable group.
We’ll be out on the trails for five to seven hours. Prepare for this trip by doing cardio and strength exercise at least three days a week.
Be ready to cover six to nine miles today before heading home.
We’ll be hiking on moderate mountainous terrain, which may require navigating various rock faces and trail conditions including steep inclines and uneven ground.
Up to 1,800 feet per day.
Up to 8,000 feet.
MODERATE — FOR INTERMEDIATE PARTICIPANTS AND ABOVE
Level 6 trips will push you with a faster pace and longer distances. This hard work allows you to see more terrain and higher vistas. You should expect to be tired and fulfilled on the van ride home.
We’ll be active for five to eight hours. Prepare for this trip by maintaining your daily fitness regime that includes both cardio and strength.
Be ready to cover some serious distance. We may hike up to eleven miles today, nearly a half-marathon.
We’ll be hiking on varying mountainous terrain, which will involve navigating various rock faces, loose stones, and steep, uneven trails.
Up to 2,000 feet per day.
Up to 10,000 feet.
VIGOROUS — FOR INTERMEDIATE PARTICIPANTS WITH BASIC SKILLS
On Level 7 trips you’ll encounter some of the steepest elevations and technical terrain available within a day’s drive. These trips are for athletic types and those who wish to push their physical abilities.
You can expect to be active for six to eight hours. You can best prepare for a Level 7 trip by maintaining your intense fitness regimen, trying to get your mile time below eight minutes, and hiking consistently on the weekends.
Level 7 hikes can be anywhere from ten to thirteen miles.
We will be on mountainous, exposed terrain and steep, uneven trails. Most hikes will require not only hiking boots but also additional gear like hiking poles and headlamps.
Up to 2,500 feet per day.
Up to 12,000 feet.
VIGOROUS — RECOMMENDED FOR FIT TRAVELERS WITH EXPERIENCE
On Level 8 trips you’ll be challenged by some of the steepest elevations and technical terrain available on the east coast. These trips are for endurance athletes and those who wish to truly test themselves. These are our hardest day trips and our weekend trips that prepare you for international adventure.
We will be active for six to nine hours. You can best prepare for a Level 8 trip by maintaining your intense fitness regimen, trying to get your mile time below seven minutes, and hiking consistently on the weekends.
Level 8 hikes range from twelve to fourteen miles.
We will hike and scramble up numerous peaks with exposed, uneven surfaces, large boulders, and steep ascents/descents. Hiking boots, poles and headlamps are recommended.
There could be elevation change of up to 3,000 feet per day and possible altitude.
Up to 14,000 feet.
STRENUOUS — ADVANCED OR VERY FIT TRAVELERS
If you yearn to touch the sky and think the rewards outweigh the risks and extreme conditions, a Level 9 trip is what you’re looking for. Over the course of multiple days you will be called upon to prove you belong among the best. Only inner fortitude and perseverance will get you and your team to the top and back safely.
You should be ready for at least eight to ten hours a day of pain, challenge, and constant small victories. Prepare for this by racing in triathlons, training for a marathon and keeping up your hiking skills.
You should expect to be hiking twelve to fifteen miles per day.
On Level 9 trips you will be trekking in remote mountains with exposed terrain and loose features.
There could be elevation change of 4,000 feet per day with some altitude travel likely.
Up to 17,000 feet.
STRENUOUS — EXPERIENCED TRAVELERS WITH EXPERT SKILLS
With the proper technique, experience, and a generous dose of luck, you and a team of the hardiest adventurers around will tackle extreme terrain, unrelenting elements, and improbable odds as you strive to conquer the ultimate outdoor challenge of our Level 10 trips.
You should be ready for a minimum of ten hours per day of excruciating hiking, scrambling, and climbing.
You should expect to be hiking for at least twelve miles per day. Prepare with an intense cardio and weight-lifting circuit training regimen to increase cardio output and endurance.
On Level 10 trips you will be trekking in the most highly exposed, remote terrain imaginable.
There could be elevation change of 5,000 feet per day and prolonged travel at altitude.
Up to 19,000 feet.
Hiking the Canadian Rockies does not require technical climbing skills or experience. It does, however, require a minimum level of physical fitness. We strongly encourage our hikers to experience hiking on rugged trails, particularly up and down steep hills, since this is much of what you will experience in the Rockies. It is an undeniable fact that those who are in good shape are more likely to enjoy the views along the trail. Those who engage in regular exercise before hiking long miles in unknown terrain do just fine on the ascent. Give oneself adequate time—at least a couple of months—to prepare, particularly if this form and intensity of exercise is new. For three days a week, focus on an hour or more of aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, swimming, etc. Gym equipment such as stairmasters and rowing machines can supplement cardiovascular training. Day hikes or other longer endeavors will help prepare one for the endurance required in the Rockies. Carrying a 20 to 30 pound pack uphill on trails or stadium steps will simulate the real climb better than anything. Lifting moderate weights to increase core body, leg, and arm strength is also a good idea. Focus on quads and hamstrings—legs need strength and endurance. Being generally fit and having some solid stamina for long days is the overall goal.
While elevations are not as consistently high as other Discover Outdoors trips, high altitude considerations are necessary to ensure a successful trip in the Canadian Rockies. We will be sleeping at an elevation of 4,134 feet in Field and 6,742 feet at the Stanly Mitchell Cabin. Our highest point of the week is a mountain pass at an elevation of 10,062 feet. To help one’s body adjust to the thinner and drier air, you must first hydrate. Drinking enough water markedly improves athletic performance and helps to prevent acute mountain sickness. Before and during your hike, aim for 4-5 quarts of fluid a day. Make sure your water is readily accessible. During the ascent, hydration systems like Camelbacks, or a water bottle on your hip will provide easy access to your water. Sport drink mixes like Gatorade are highly recommended; they promote drinking and help replenish electrolytes. Avoid too much alcohol and caffeine, as these have the effect of dehydrating your body. If you have never been to high altitude before, do not worry, everyone has a first time. Keep your guide posted on any physical symptoms you may be experiencing. If you have had trouble with altitude in the past, please let us know ahead of time and consult with your physician before you come.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
The high mountain areas have extremely variable weather. The evenings can turn cold and the days can warm up substantially, even in the alpine environment. Strong winds, rain, hail, even summer snow showers may be encountered. Expect early morning starts to avoid afternoon thundershowers!
All breakfasts and dinners will be provided including coffee, teas, and hot chocolate. If you have food intolerances or allergies, please notify our office. Lunch ingredients will be laid out in the morning for you to make your own, perfect sandwich or wrap. Plan for a half pound of trail/lunch food per day with a variety of many small snacks. Delicious dinners will be prepared for you in the evenings.
If you are unsure of what to bring, give us a call or send us an email! Our staff is happy to help ensure you are comfortably outfitted for your trip. To prepare yourself for the activities, join Discover Outdoors on any of our local day trips. Our trained guides will coach you and offer helpful tips in preparing for your big adventure. Below is a list of equipment for this trip. The specific gear considerations are designed to prepare you for all possible conditions. For questions about the gear list, please contact our office at 212-579-4568 or info@DiscoverOutdoors.com
Please, no cotton. Cotton or cotton blends are not acceptable layers, except for a short sleeve hiking shirt and shorts. Wet cotton cools your core body temperature quickly and this can become a serious safety issue. Make sure that your insulating jackets and rain gear, both tops and bottoms, can fit over other layers. Do not omit layers; we actually wear them all on many occasions. If you would like an extra layer, a vest is a nice light addition. Rain ponchos are not acceptable. Gloves may be used while climbing; they must be both dexterous and warm, and leather is not a good idea.
Two water bottles or Camelback
Hiking boots with sturdy soles
Hiking socks, four pairs
Gloves, two pair
Sun-blocking hat (baseball cap)
Base top layer (wicking t-shirts)
Heavy layer (sweater or fleece)
Pants, hiking shorts
Casual wear for around the hostel and town
Sleeping bag rated to 20 degrees for Stanley Mitchell Cabin
Medications, prescription and non-prescription
Small towel and washcloth
Flashlight or headlamp
Binoculars for viewing wildlife
GENERAL INFORMATION AND CANCELLATION POLICY
Please read our terms and conditions and call us with any questions you may have about the trip before booking. A gear and departure check-list will be sent to you upon booking confirmation. Cancellations within 45 days of departure are non-refundable. Cancellations before 45 days of departure will receive a full refund (minus 5% deposit). Trip credit for the balance will be given for cancellations at least three weeks from the date of departure. No credit will be given for cancellations within three weeks of your multi-day adventure.
Climb for a cause.
Make your effort more rewarding by raising funds for the Discover Outdoors Foundation or your favorite charity. When you give your adventure a purpose beyond personal goals, your experience becomes more fulfilling, helping you reach the summit.
HOW IT WORKS
When you register with the “Fundraise for a cause” option, we will ask you by email what charity you would like to support. If you choose the Discover Outdoors Foundation, your fundraising commitment is $7,500. In exchange for your effort and commitment, the cost of the trip is covered at no cost, minus your airfare and personal expenses. You will receive a fundraising commitment letter, giving you the support and tools for reaching your goal. Please email email@example.com or call 212-579-4568 with any questions about the program.
DISCOVER OUTDOORS FOUNDATION
The Discover Outdoors Foundation began in 2012 with a singular focus: increasing graduation rates in our urban schools through education experienced in the outdoors. Inspired by the positive impact our for-profit business, Discover Outdoors, was making through our youth leadership program, we soon felt compelled to serve our entire community, not just those who could afford it. Since then, the path of students has taken a different course; one that leads to a diploma and a brighter future. To learn how you can make a difference, visit the Discover Outdoors Foundation website.
- MONDAY, AUGUST 11
- Arrive in Calgary, explore Lake Louise
- TUESDAY, AUGUST 12
- Paradise Valley and Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
- WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13
- Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park
- THURSDAY, AUGST 14
- Yoho National Park
- FRIDAY, AUGUST 15
- Iceline Trail and Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park
- SATURDAY, AUGUST 16
- Final day, depart Calgary airport