For the avid trail runner, Iceline Trail in the western Rockies’ Yoho National Park may be the the most beautiful trail in Canada. The 20K loop with less than 850 metres of gain provides adventurers with the best of everything: rocky, rooty, yet runnable terrain alongside glaciers with never-ending alpine views. The most challenging part of the run is not taking a photo every five seconds.
It was a Tuesday afternoon in mid-July as we drove up the winding Yoho Valley Road into the Takakkaw Falls parking lot. As one of the highest waterfalls in Canada, Takakkaw Falls is not only a trailhead, but a tourist mecca. We were prepared with our ten essentials, but nothing could prepare us for how beautiful the views were.
After taking pictures at Takakkaw Falls, we headed to the Whiskey Jack Hostel to start the run. Following signs for Iceline via Little Yoho loop, the run started off on a runnable gravel path. As it continued to get a bit more technical, the trail brought us near glacial lakes and Laughing Falls (which were hilarious). We ran alongside the northeastern President Range of peaks. At the tip of the loop, the trail passes by Stanley Mitchell Hut, which is operated by the Alpine Club of Canada. The trail is suits all abilities, as more extreme alpinists can extend the loop to Whaleback or the Rockwall Trail.
It’s not every day you can run through glacial moraines in the alpine. Every step was incredible. Even though the summer sun was bound to set, I didn’t want our afternoon jaunt to end. We got back to the car long before we needed to turn on our headlamps. After some parking lot snacks, we left Takakkaw Falls and headed toward Lake Louise–and more food. It was the perfect way to spend a summer evening.
Terrain: runnable loop with rocks and roots, gradual ascents and descents
Time: 3-6 hours (more if you want to stop and enjoy the views, less if you’re going for the FKT)
Time of year: late June to mid-October (the trail closes when it snows)