A Hiker's Guide: Challenge and Beauty of Yamnuska Peak
Recently, my wife and I celebrated her birthday with a hike to the Yamnuska mountain. It was the perfect opportunity to escape the daily grind and the constant battle for control of the iPad with our kids. The great thing about being parents is that your private time becomes a rare and precious commodity, like a unicorn or a winning lottery ticket.
So, we dropped the kids off at daycare and hit the road, leaving the prairies behind and heading into the mountains. Alberta's roads are like a dream, smooth and straight, you can cover more than 100 km in an hour without breaking speed limits, with no intersections, traffic lights, or traffic jams. The prairies slowly become foothills, mountains get bigger as you get closer and suddenly you find yourself driving in the valley between two ridges. The first big mountain on the right side is Yamnuska, and trust us, the view from the top is worth the climb and the fight for the iPad.
Attention all hikers! Before you embark on your journey to conquer the Yamnuska mountain, please be aware that you will need a conservation pass for parking. We highly recommend purchasing it online before your trip as the internet connection at the parking spot can be spotty.
Click here for official information.
It may be a popular hike, but don't let that fool you. Rescue crews are called to the mountain almost weekly due to injuries and lost hikers. This hike is not suitable for beginners or those in poor physical shape. Make sure to check the weather forecast and come prepared, as there is a lot of scrambling involved. The route can be challenging when the weather is bad, the rocks are slippery and visibility is poor.
Remember, the mountains are not to be taken lightly. Be safe, be prepared and enjoy your hike!
It's one of the nearest hikes to Calgary, it took us less than 1 hour to get to the place.
Although it was Thursday and we arrived at 9 am there were already five cars in the parking.
During the minutes it took us to check the bags and prepare the poles several more cars appeared, that's a popular place!
There are tons of hikes near Calgary, some you can do with flip-flops, there are hundreds of people who stay in the lines near the waterfalls, others are long and hard, and you will not see anyone there during the whole day. Yamnuska is somewhere between. You will see people from time to time, but most of the time there is no one around you.
The hike to Yamnuska mountain starts off with a leisurely walk through the forest. On a dry day like we had, it was a bit dusty, but still an easy stroll. The trail is mostly shaded by the trees, making it a refreshing way to start the morning. The only thing to keep in mind during this part of the hike is the bear threat, so make sure to make plenty of noise!
As you gain about 400 meters of elevation, the trail leads you to the ridge where you'll be greeted with a stunning view of the valley behind the mountain. This is an important junction, as the next section involves scrambling and the difficulty level significantly increases. This is the time to re-evaluate your decision to continue with the hike and decide if you're up for the challenge.
The second part of the hike to the top of the Yamnuska mountain begins with a steep and rugged stairway that seems to be carved into the mountain itself. From here on, it's important to keep an eye out for the blue marks on the rocks and small pillars that indicate the main trail. Be aware that sometimes there may be a straight and obvious path, but it may not be the correct route. It's important to follow the marks carefully to ensure a safe hike.
Depending on your pace and how often you stop to take in the views, it should take about an hour to reach the cliff with the chain. Take a deep breath, take a break and store your poles in your backpack. The chain is your guide to the top, but be extra cautious and be aware of your steps, falling from the cliff here can have serious consequences. After the chain, it will take another 40 minutes to reach the summit of the mountain.
The top of the mountain offers a spectacular panoramic view and a sense of accomplishment. It's the perfect spot for a well-deserved lunch and a victory selfie. Enjoy the view!
When hiking Yamnuska mountain, it's important to keep a few things in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:
- Be mindful of your surroundings and other hikers and climbers on the trail. Be careful with loose rocks as they can cause injury to others. Good communication and patience is essential for a successful hike.
- Helmets are not a common sight on the trail, but it's recommended to wear one as it can provide added protection.
- Invest in a good pair of hiking shoes, as the terrain can be rough and rocky.
- Keep in mind that there are no sources of water on the trail, so make sure to bring enough water for the hike.
- The weather in the mountains can change rapidly, so even if it's a hot day, it's a good idea to bring some warm clothing as a precaution.
- There is usually some phone signal on the trail, so you'll be able to call for help if needed.
The way back is easier from my personal view.
You should be very careful during the first kilometer or two, as soon as you reach the forest area, the road will be good.
In general, it's a great hike for experienced people. It's not too risky and tough, especially if the weather is good. PLUS. Again. If the weather will change to rain you will have a real adventure.
On the way back there is a water reservoir on the river. As we were overheated and covered with dust we decided to have a short stop there. The water is burning cold and absolutely clean. I spent not more than 10 seconds, but it was the best experience of the whole day.
At 3:45 pm we parked near the daycare.