Hike Mt. Yamnuska

5.4 miles 855 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Tam McTavish

Yamnuska's place at the gateway to the Rockies, incredible views and novel chainwalk make it a Calgary classic.

This Alberta classic start just a few minutes off the Trans Canada. 

The trail begins gently through forests of Aspen. In spring and fall these are particularly lovely. Steadily the trail heads upwards bringing you to a three-way junction. Head right, and follow the trail Eastwards, as it zigs into open terrain giving you stellar views of the Rockies foothills, before zagging back westwards towards the mountain. 

The trail heads straight for the base of Yamnuska's long ridge, at a outcropping of rocks called Raven's Crag. From a distance this appears daunting, but as you are approaching it's just a quick hop over some boulders in a gully. You do have to use a hand, but you're tucked safe between a couple rocks and it doesn't feel the slightest bit exposed. 

From here you follow a trail that runs lengthwise across the Northern face of Yamnuska. In winter it is not recommended to visit this area after significant snowfall, and always wear crampons or microspikes of some kind, as well as a trekking pole or an ice axe.

The trail can be exposed at times, but for the most part is fairly straightforward. Two thirds of the way along you encounter the "Chain Walk". A thick chain is bolted into the rock along a section no more then a one to two feet wide. For those not used to scrambling it can be quite exhilarating. The Chain provides a solid hand hold that one can easily make their way across with. 

From here it's pretty straight forward towards the true summit. After you've savoured the views your going to start the descent. The first section starts pretty quick and you quickly get funneled into a steep scree (gravel) slope. But this is the finest, lightest, and most consistent scree in the Rockies.

Experienced "Yamaineers" will charge down this like it's snow, letting the very absorbent scree cushion their impact so they can speed down hill. The trick is to keep pumping your feet like your squishing grapes, and always plunge your foot heel first. 

The first scree slope abruptly ends, and you make your way down the west side of Yamnuska, curving around back eastward underneath the impressive South face. If you go early in the day you may catch a glimpse of the many rock climbers that frequent this face. 

Carry on down towards the second scree slope. This is the longest of the two. Some of the lines of scree have more than others, and some have patches of dirt. Don't take the first line that presents itself. If you traverse eastwards you will find better lines for "scree running".

At the base the trail becomes a regular path again gently sloping downwards were it meets up with the eastward trail to Raven's Crag, and the quick descent to the parking lot. 

GPS track found here: http://www.movescount.com/move...

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Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

June 22, 2020

My friend and completed this hike yesterday and we had a good time doing it! This hike will definitely make you work for the views you’re going to get! My friend and I are regular hikers and have completed many intermediate/hard hikes, this was one of the most difficult trails I’ve done to date. Be prepared for a lot of scree (after you climb the first chimney it is almost all scree until you summit the peak and then again all the lower loop back until you are back on the wooded path. We also found this hike a difficult to navigate once you were scrambling as there are multiple ‘paths’ but most are random and not a part of the actual outlined trail. Usually this is no problem but the scree and the distance you’re scrambling across the Ridge, it gets challenging to ‘tell’ where the safe andwalked path of it is. All on all, we really enjoyed the hike but it took us almost double the time to completed hike because the paths were difficult to navigate - I highly recommend saving the directions or a map of the trail

about 2 years ago

Sept Long Weekend 2018

What an awesome hike! By far my favorite and never get tired of reaching the top and conquering the chains! “Skiing” down the scree slopes was sooooo much fun! Can’t wait to do it again!

Fun hike/trail run!

It's a nice day out to do the loop, some people run the route in under two hours round trip. Hiking will take 4-6 hours given the weather or personal fitness. There are blue paint markers in the upper sections to help with route-finding. Make sure to stay on route or you'll face either a long screw slog or an exposed climb. Have fun!

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