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, Banff National Park, and Jasper National Park 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.
Arrive in the Canadian Rockies
Upon landing at Calgary International Airport, your Discover Outdoors guides will pick you up and drive you and your fellow hikers to Field, B.C. 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.
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 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
Jasper National Park
Your destination today is Jasper National Park, about a 1.5 hour drive from Field, where you'll hike along the Wilcox Path Trail. From the trail head, the hike starts with a steady climb through an alpine forest. The trail levels out on a an exposed ridge with alpine meadows and vast views of the Athabasca Glacier. Keep an eye out for the family of mountain goats and bighorn sheep that live in these meadows. After hiking along the ridge, you'll turn up the valley and climb through the open, flower filled meadows towards Wilcox Pass, which offers even greater views of the Athabasca Glacier and six high ice field peaks across the Columbia Icefield.
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 5.6 miles
- Elevation Gain 1,312 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 an energy-packed 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.
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 your 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
- Transportation throughout trip
DOES NOT INCLUDE
- Airfare to Calgary International Airport
- Some meals
- Gratuity for your guides
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. 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 yourself adequate time 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 you prepare 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 your 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 3 liters of water 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 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.
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 food per day with a variety of many small snacks. Delicious dinners will be prepared for you in the evenings.
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 before 45 days of departure are eligible for a full refund (minus 5% deposit). Trip credit only will be given for cancellations at least three weeks from the date of departure. No credit or refund will be given for cancellations within three weeks of your multi-day adventure.
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 [email protected]
- 3 1-liter water bottles or Camelback Backpack
- Hiking boots with sturdy soles
- Hiking socks, four pairs
- Gloves, two pairs
- Warm hat
- Sun-blocking hat (baseball cap)
- Base top layer (wicking t-shirts)
- Heavy layer (sweater or fleece)
- Pants, hiking shorts
- Long underwear/thermals
- Waterproof jacket
- Casual wear
- 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