The Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park is such a fantastic hike, it’s hard to know where to even begin! We wanted to get in to see the famous Lake O’Hara, and do some of the hikes in that area, but as you might know that area is difficult to get in to. We tried to see if we could get in on a last minute cancellation, but we didn’t have any luck, (although others have so it’s worth trying).
So we’d heard that if you can’t see Lake O’Hara, or if you’d like to avoid the crowds to head over and hike the Iceline Trail. The trailhead is located at the parking lot for Takakkaw Falls, and you can hike out and back, or hike it as a loop. Be sure and check a map before beginning because the signs aren’t the most helpful on this hike. We still managed to follow the loop alright, but everyone else we met was having trouble figuring out exactly which trail they were on too.
If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t bother doing this as a loop, and I love nothing more than loop hikes because you have different scenery all day long. However on this hike, one half of the loop is pretty much just trees, followed by more trees. You do get to walk by a couple of waterfalls, (one of which is pictured at the end of this post) but other than that, there’s nothing to see. The only other reason I can see to do the whole loop is because there’s a backcountry hut (the Stanley Mitchell hut – Alpine Club of Canada) where people make reservations to camp overnight.
You can see the trail in the above photo weaving along through the glacier moraines, and alongside the glacial meltwaters. As you walk through this portion of the hike, there’s non-stop glaciers over every moraine hill you climb, and the views just won’t stop. It made me glad we did the tree side of the loop first, or it would’ve been even more of a disappointment.
The beauty of doing this hike as an out and back, is you’ll see slightly different views on the way in and on the way out, because there really is that much to see. I spent so much time looking behind me to see everything that I really wished we hadn’t done the loop. But that’s what happens when you don’t have time to research ahead of time.
Anyways… we should’ve taken a right hand turn at the main signs in front of Takakkaw Falls, and headed west to Whiskey Jack Hostel to start the trail in that direction. From there the trail climbs steeply through the trees and fairly soon breaks out into the open where the views begin.
After you break out of the trees, you’ll be seeing Takakkaw Falls from above, (pictured above).
And then the glacier views begin. I lost track of how many glaciers and their glacial meltwaters we hiked past. But there was a constant sense of awe as we wondered what might be over the next hill, or around the next corner.
Tyler caught a picture of me trying to get a video. But he missed the part where I got so involved in what I was doing that I fell over and got wet in the ice cold glacier runoff. And to make matters worse, I almost lost my phone in the rushing stream! I’ve been a lot more careful ever since, that’s for sure.
As you’re walking by glaciers to your left, there’s also fantastic glacier views across the valley to your right. There might be a sign at the halfway point, but I don’t remember one from that day. So a good time to turn around is when you start to loose elevation and start descending back into the trees, (the first photo of this post is at that point).
It’s been almost 1 full year now since we hiked this trail, and neither one of us can stop gushing over how much we loved it!