Iceline: Emerald Lake to Takakkaw Falls

The Iceline is Yoho National Park's best backpacking trip. It features rugged alpine landscapes, glaciers, multiple waterfalls, rivers, lakes, and much more. Notably, you'll have the chance to see Emerald lake, Twin Falls and Takakkaw Falls.

Is this Trip for me?

This trip is rated as moderate; based on distance, elevation gain and terrain.

We will be hiking at a regular and steady pace and we will move to a different campsite everyday.

We will travel an average of 10.7 kilometers/day with some elevation gain up to 850 meters carrying a backpack weighting up to 16 kg (35 lbs.). Participants will be carrying personal clothing and gear, and equitable share of group gear and goods (food, tents, stoves, fuel, etc.).

All trails are generally in good shape but we will travel on rugged terrain.

Prior backpacking experience is not mandatory but it is recommended. You must be in good physical condition and it it suggested that you train prior to this trip.

Itinerary

 

Day 1: Emerald lake to Yoho Lake campground

At 7 am we meet at a prearranged location in Banff. We will go over the trip details with you and make sure you have all the needed gear before leaving for Emerald Lake.

Duration: Approx. 30 mins

 

We drive along the Trans Canada Highway into Yoho National Park. Shortly after passing the little town of Field, we head north to park at Emerald Lake, one of the most admired destinations in the Canadian Rockies.

Duration: Approx. 1h30mins

 

Our trip starts with a short walk along Emerald Lake followed by a steep ascent to Burgess Pass. We then traverse along the Wapta Highline Trail enjoying the views looking back at the lake and the imposing President Range, and we stop at Yoho Lake campground where we will spend the night.

Distance: 13,9 km. Elevation gain: 875m, 360m loss.

Day 2: Yoho Lake campground to Little Yoho campground

After a hearty breakfast, we will pack and leave our campground to fill our day with breathtaking views along the unique Iceline trail. The journey features a panorama of glacier clad peaks, rugged alpine landscapes and dramatic waterfalls. En route, you will have the chance to walk on moraines and stop at the iceline summit (2230m). We will end our trek by descending to the Little Yoho Valley and set up camp at the Little Yoho campground.

Distance: 10,7 km. Elevation gain: 415m, loss 175m.

 

Day 3: Little Yoho Campground to Twin Falls campground.

This is meant to be a cruisy day with a lot more stunning features to look at. We will head east on the Little Yoho valley Trail then turn north using the Whaleback Trail where grand views of Mont Des Poilus and the Yoho glacier await. We will walk over the top of the 180 meters Twin falls then descend towards the historical Twin Falls Chalet where we can enjoy the best view on the incredible double waterfall. That leaves us a short walk to Twin Falls Campground that we will call home for the night.

Distance 11.3 km. Elevation gain: 325 meters, 725 meters loss.

 

Day 4: Twin Falls Campground to Takakkaw falls.

No rush this morning as we have an easy day ahead of us. We will follow the Yoho Valley highlighted by the silty glacier fed Yoho River. We will pass by Laughing falls, Duchesnay lake, Point Lace Falls, Angel's Staircase falls to finish our trip with the second tallest waterfall in Canada: Takakkaw Falls. We will have the chance to cool off approaching the 254m main drop of the giant waterfall before heading back to Banff.

Distance: 6.9 km, Elevation loss 145 meters.

What's Included

Professional Hiking Guide

Our Hiking Guide has 12 years exploring the Canadian Rocky Mountains and some other parts of the continent. He is a certified Hiking Guide of the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides). He is also a member of the IGA (Interpretive Guide Association) and an accredited Wilderness First Responder.

Complementary certifications: ACMG Hiking Guide Winter Travel, AST1 (Avalanche Safety Training Level 1).

Your guide speaks 3 languages: French, English and Spanish.

Gear
We supply group camping and cooking equipment, as well as an emergency communication device, bear spray, water purification equipment and a backcountry emergency first-aid kit. You will need to bring personal backpacking equipment and clothing. 

Food

We provide all meals and snacks on this trip; from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day. We make healthy and nutritious meals to keep you energized throughout the whole trip . You will be consulted for food preferences and allergies when booking.

Transportation

We provide transportation from your accommodation in Banff or Canmore to the trailhead and back. Different pick-up locations can be discussed as well. We can also offer a shuttle from Calgary to your accommodation for a reasonable rate. 

 

Camping and parks fees

The backcountry camping fees as well as the Park ‘Wilderness Pass’ are included. Also, valid entry day passes to the National Parks for the duration of the backpacking trip are covered.

Equipement List

Having the right gear is key to safety in the mountains. We have to be ready for the Rockies' unpredictable weather and also to be ready to stay warm in case of emergency. Here's a list of the gear you need to bring:

Footwear
  • Hiking boots: ​You need hiking boots with a great ankle support, good tread and sturdy soles. They also have to be waterproof. Make sure you spend time to get used to them and that they are broken in before the trip. Uncomfortable boots could literally ruin your trip. 

  • Light Footwear: Crocs, active sandals or running shoes for the occasional creek crossing and use around camp.

Gaiters(optional)
  • ​Gaiters are really helpful, especially in early and late season and when encountering snow, rain or dew. They will help keep your socks and your boots dry and they will prevent the debris from getting stuck in your boots.

Clothing

Layers, layers, layers!

  • Socks​

    • Wearing an appropriate pair of socks can make a big difference on your footwear fit and comfort during the hike.  

    • Good choice: wool hiking socks. ​

    • Bring at least 3 pairs.

  • Base layer: short or long sleeves. 

    • Good choice: merino wool, synthetic materials.​

  • Mid-layer 1: Medium weight (i.e. fleece, wool).

  • Mid-layer 2: Thick layer (i.e. thick fleece, down jacket)

  • Waterproof Jacket: with hood.

    • Good choice: Gore-Tex or equivalent.

  • Light weight pants or convertibles. 

    • Good choice: nylon.

    • No jeans.

  • Gloves or mittens.

    • Good choice: Gore-Tex or equivalent.

  • Sunhat or cap.

  • Hat/Tuque, ear warmers or Buff.

  • Waterproof pants.

    • Good choice: with side zippers, Gore-Tex or equivalent.​​​

Gear
  • Large Backpack: 55 to 75 L. Keep in mind that you will be transporting your fair share of group camping gear and food(usually 10-20L of space)

  • Pack Cover: You need to keep your gear dry at all time so a cover big enough to protect the entire outside of your pack. It is also recommended to put your gear in dry bags or whichever plastic bags.

  • Sleeping Bag: We recommend a 3 season sleeping bag with a rating of 0ºC to –9ºC. At any time of the year, it is frequent to encounter cold temperatures that can drop below freezing at night.

  • Sleeping Mat – Lightweight “Therm-a-rest” mats are recommended. They should be at least the length of you body. 

  • Pillow – A small, compressible pillow or a spare stuff sack into which you can stuff extra clothes to create a pillow.

  • Trekking poles: helps reduce impact on knees and back, specially on the way down. Must be collapsible.

  • Water Bottle/bladder: 1-2 Liters capacity.

  • Sunglasses with 100% UV protection (with a hard case recommended).

  • Headlamp: Make sure you have fresh batteries. 

  • Sunscreen and lip balm: Strong with UV protection.

  • Personal toiletries including hand sanitizer: keep to minimum and chose unscented products.
  • Mosquito repellant​​​
  • Personal First Aid Kit – Our guide carries a group first aid kit so keep this small. Band-Aids, blister care, Tylenol/ibuprofen, etc.

 

If you are missing any of the above, contact us to see if we can provide it for you.

Interesting information

Yoho, a Cree expression of amazement or awe, is situated on the western slopes of the continental divide in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, province of British Columbia.

 

The journey starts at Emerald Lake - the largest of Yoho's 61 lakes and ponds, as well as one of the park's premier tourist attractions. It is mainly known for the color of its name, for it's lush environment and its geology.

 

We use the Burgess Pass and the Wapta Highline trail. In 1909, geologist Charles D. Walcott used this trail and discovered the Burgess Shale - a world renown fossil site - on Mount Burgess.

 

Our first campsite takes place by Yoho Lake - a beautiful blue glacial lake sitting in the subalpine at 1815metres in elevation. There you can observe birds, flowers, and beautiful subalpine trees.

 

The Iceline trail reveals the power of water and ice. The trail parallels the North side of the Presidential mountain range and shows us a portion of the hanging Emerald glacier. From eroded and polished rock slabs to moraines and alpine tarns and waterfalls, you can witness the erosion on the landscapes right under your feet. Looking across the Yoho Valley, you can observe the greatness of the Daly glacier melting with its water flowing off the mountain through the powerful Takakkaw falls into the Yoho River.

 

Our campsite in the Little Yoho Valley sits at 2055 metres and offers incredible vistas from the adjacent lush meadow. You can observe many alpine flowers and its residents such as the columbian ground Squirrel and sometimes the Grizzly bear. The little Yoho River offers soothing sounds to help us sleep well through the night.

 

Twin Falls is a 80-metre impressive double cascade fed by nearby Glacier des Poilus. Nearby, you can observe the rustic Twin Falls Chalet, a two-story National Historic Site cabin built in 1927. The nearby creek along with the milky Yoho River offers a calming environment for us spending the night at the nearby campground.

 

Waterfalls! So many waterfalls can be observed on the last leg of the trip. Notably, Laughing falls is impressively loud for its size, Point Lace Falls is soothing with his small volume flowing over the exposed stratified layers, Angels staircase is a tall multipitch cascade fall noticed from a distance, and Takkakaw falls is a giant from which its 254 metres drop can be observed from a close viewpoint.