TRIP REPORT: ICELINE CIRCUIT,
YOHO NATIONAL PARK
Words by Tera Swanson
Photography by Paul Zizka
The Iceline Circuit is considered by many to be a jewel of Yoho National Park, and for good reason. Not only will you find waterfalls, glaciers and wildflowers around every turn, but this region is rich with the history of Swiss Guides and the CP Rail. Whether you complete the 20-km circuit in a hard-earned day or break it up with a backcountry campground or ACC Hut, there are several ways to enjoy this little slice of Yoho paradise.
- This is a great multi-day backcountry trip for families or beginners, whether you’re staying at Stanley Mitchell Hut or connecting your stretches with any of four backcountry campgrounds (plus one frontcountry campground and Whiskey Jack Hostel if you feel like ‘splashing out’).
- Begin and end your hiking boot tracks with a bang: one of the highest waterfalls in Canada! Your trek will begin from the Takakkaw Falls parking lot (just a quick side jaunt to the falls before setting on your way), and end with stunning views of the falls from afar along the Iceline Trail.
- If you haven’t gotten your waterfall fix, take time to enjoy three more along the first hour or so of your hike – Angel’s Staircase, Point Lace Falls and Laughing Falls – before taking a left up Little Yoho Valley Trail.
- Get up-close with glaciers through the President Range that will accompany you along the Iceline Trail (but not too close – remember to preserve your surroundings and stay on the path!)
- The access road to Takkakaw Falls closes from Fall until early summer. Stanley Mitchell Hut can still be accessed during winter months, but makes for a very long (sometimes multi-day) approach
- Some guidebooks suggest going to Stanley Mitchell Hut via the Iceline Trail first, and descending via the Little Yoho Valley Trail, but this may be too strenuous for those travelling with the first-day heaviness of their packs – plus you’ll miss the views of Takakkaw Falls behind you!
- Maximize your scenic views by hiking the Whaleback Trail from North to South, by taking the Marpole Connector from Stanley Mitchell Hut.
- Exercise extreme caution at the Twin Falls upper trail, as there is danger of a fall as you near the top of the waterfall.
Other Side Trips/
If you have a few vehicles to get from Point A to B, or are up for hitchhiking, consider finishing off Day 3 by connecting the Iceline Trail through Yoho Lake with the Yoho Pass Trail to Emerald Lake.
There are many scrambles in the area that can be done as day trips from Stanley Mitchell Hut or the Little Yoho Campground, including Mt. Kerr, Kiwetinok Peak, Mt. Pollinger, Mt. MacArthur and Isolated Peak.