Considering skiing is still happening up at Sunshine Village, sticking to lower elevation hikes is wise; there is still a considerable amount of snowpack and the rising temperatures have been adding to the already high avalanche risk. If you’re looking for a good day hike to enjoy on a warm spring day I suggest sticking to summits below 2,000m that have few exposed faces. Good examples of day hikes that fit this bill are Ha Ling, Mt. Baldy and Mt. Yamnuska. A group of friends, my boyfriend Mark and I completed Mount Yamnuska this weekend.
Trail Name: Mount Yamnuska
Trailhead: Mt. Yamnuska is about 45 minutes west of Calgary and about 20 minutes east of Canmore. Take exit #114 off of highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway) onto highway 1x and head east towards Seebe/Exshaw. Drive about 3.5km and turn east onto highway 1A. Drive then less than 1km along highway 1A and turn left into the parking lot, there is a sign along the highway directing you to the parking lot.
Elevation Gain: 533 meters; steep sections are separated by flat to mild uphill sections through a beautiful birch filled forest.
Distance: 7.3km round trip
Time Required: 3 hours with a lunch break (moderate pace)
Recommended Equipment: Hiking boots, daypack, weather appropriate clothing (including a layer for the windy summit), a snack/lunch and water. If you have had knee problems in the past, hiking poles are always a good idea as they help alleviate the pressure and impact as you descend. Since you’re hiking at higher elevations, remember the effect that that has on sun exposure and wear an appropriate amount of sunscreen.
Mt. Yamnuska is great because it’s one of the first mountains you encounter heading west along the Trans Canada Highway, and it’s a gentle steady climb with rewarding views the entire way. For those looking for a scramble (the next level of difficulty), scaling the ridge at the top offers just that. My hiking group opted out of the summit scramble due to very snowy trail conditions on the last leg of the ascent and some were lacking proper hiking boots.
None the less, we made it pretty close to the top and were thoroughly rewarded with beautiful views and warm winds. We took a lunch break at the top where we could take in our surroundings (and eat all the dulce de leche that we could, which by the way tastes great with cheese and apples) before turning back around.
The trail’s forgiving grinds and awe inspiring panoramic views make this an excellent mountain for a beginner day hiker. So if you’re looking for something to just wet your toes before you jump in entirely to the world of hiking, this is your mountain! Happy hiking!