How To Get There: Drive to the Takakkaw Falls parking lot. Park in the area designated for backcountry hikers and then follow the signs
Have I mentioned lately how much the weather in Western Canada has sucked lately? If I haven’t, let me just say it again. It sucks! In July alone, we had the least amount of sun and most amount of rain since 1927. It’s been very miserable but that hasn’t stopped me from getting out there. And the terrible weather forecast didn’t stop Kim and I from continuing with our plans to backpack in Yoho National Park.
On Thursday we drove from Calgary to Field, the closest town to our trailhead and stayed at the Fireweed Hostel. While the Hostel itself is a little pricier than most, it’s also in very good condition. The bedding is clean and the mattresses are comfortable. We shared a room with two other women.
On Friday we woke up bright and early, packed up our stuff and then headed out to Takakkaw Falls. We parked at the parking lot that is designated for backpackers, took a quick peak at the stunning Takakkaw Falls and then began our hike.
You know when one thing goes wrong, everything else seems to follow? This was one of those trips. While the weather was holding off for the most part, allowing for the sun to peak around the clouds every now and again, I was immediately tasked with attempting to re-adjust my backpack over and over again. I had borrowed my boyfriend’s pack for the trip as Kim was using mine and I was having a heck of a time trying to get it adjusted. Unfortunately, I ended up pulling on the hip strap one too many times and it broke. I had to improvise and tie the straps together (with the help of a few safety pins).
The trail is wide and made of gravel as it passes over two bridges that cross over several creeks.
You walk through the valley among scarce trees until you reach a paved trail that follows through a thickening of trees.
Once you reach the end of the paved trail, you come at a cross roads. Once you turn left you start on the actual mud trail. This trail is incredibly easy save for the huge ascent you have to make near the top that is made of roots, mud and a few stairs.
Once you navigate yourself through the various turning points (using the very helpful signs to guide you along your way), you finally find yourself hiking along the Yoho river, which is an icy blue.
After a while, we found ourselves crossing the river over a long bridge.
Right across from the bridge is Laughing Falls Campground. We continued to follow the trail through the campground until we turned a corner and were greeted with the amazing sight of the waterfall itself.
I was very impressed with it’s size of power. If you walk through the trees towards the waterfall, you can get a closer look. But don’t get too close as the rocks are slippery and can be dangerous. Once we took several photos of the falls, we continued on through the valley.
The trail remains mostly flat after this, crossing back over the river one more time.
The sky was beginning to be completely taken over by grey clouds by the time we finally reached the sign that indicates Twin Falls Campground is only a few hundred meters away.
As we inspected the campground, it became apparent that the tent pads were virtually non-existent and that it wasn’t always easy to tell where the designated campsites were. Regardless, we were able to claim the only spot that had a tent pad and we set up for the night. After setting everything up, we walked the short distance to where the tables were. They were sitting conveniently right beside the river with the bear poles not even 200 metres away.
Once we had gotten a good look at the campground itself, we decided to venture the extra 2 kilometres to view Twin Falls. After making it past the campground, the trail begins a bit more of an upward climb, passing by some interesting rock formations.
The first kilometre of the trail continues to travel alongside the river until it disappears into a gorge.
As we made our way, the clouds above began to grow darker, threatening to finally fulfill the forecasts promise. Finally, we were greeted with a sign indicating that the Whaleback trail began to our right and the teahouse sat to our left. We walked over and inspected the teahouse for a short bit but because it was not open for customers we only ended up opening the door a crack to take a peak inside. While the teahouse is not nearly as big as the Skoki Lodge, it’s still incredibly quaint and well put together.
After that, we began the loop that takes you around several viewing spots of the Twin Falls. This loop starts at either information sign.
We chose to start at the one closest to the teahouse and moved clockwise. Each view point brought you closer and closer to the waterfalls until you were finally practically right beside them.
We crawled up a short distance until we could feel the spray on our faces and took several pictures of the magnificent waterfalls before us.
Right around this point, the rain finally started to fall. So we took a few more minutes to enjoy the gorgeous waterfalls and then turned around and headed back. It was crazy how hard the rain came down on our return back to the campground! Unfortunately, neither of us brought our rain pants so our hiking pants got incredibly soaked, as did our gloves (and my socks as my boots are old and no longer waterproof). Once we finally dove back into our tent, we quickly changed into dryer clothes and then waited until the rain subsided enough to make dinner.
That night, we both hoped for sunshine the next day (though the forecast was predicting even more rain) so that we could dry out some of our clothes. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided she had other plans and we ended up waking up to the non-stop sound of rain hitting our tent. Once we realized it wasn’t going to let up, we made the sad but responsible decision to head back to the parking lot. As much as we both wanted to head to our second planned destination (Little Yoho), we knew that a lot of our clothes were soaked and thundershowers were in the forecast for the rest of the day. The Whaleback trail is very difficult and has some exposed areas so we decided we would have to put it off for another day. This was incredibly frustrating because I wanted nothing more than to climb the Whaleback and then finish off the next day with the Iceline trail.
However, that’s the trick when you have a passion for outdoors. Life doesn’t always go according to plan. So we quickly packed up all of our soggy gear and began to hike back to our vehicle.
On our way back, we decided to make a short trip to Duchesnay Lake, which is just 400 m off the main trail. It was an incredibly eerie sight.
While the rain had let up at this point, the sky was still cloudy and the lake was a dismal greenish-grey color. Surrounding the area was half-dead trees and the lake had long since half-dried up and receded, exposing mud that had sprouted several variations of weeds.
For some reason, we loved it. We had the whole place to ourselves as we walked around, exploring the trees and enjoying the fact that the valley provided an amazing echo in this spot. It made the disappointment of our shortened trip a bit better.
If you want to take a trip with the family, I would definitely suggest this campground. It’s not much to look at but it’s easy to access and hiking to Twin Falls offers a great side trip!