July 21, 2009 | Tips from Travellers >
Golden, Historic & Heritage Sites
I had the pleasure of joining Parks Canada on one of their guided hikes to the Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park. Park’s Canada has just recently begun to offer this guided hike. In the past this hike has only been available through the Burgess Shale Foundation, but they are very busy so Parks Canada has stepped in help keep up with demand and increase hiking visit to the Burgess Shale at Walcott Quarry.
The hike is amazingly beautiful, you start at Takakkaw Falls and the trail climbs steeply for about 1.5km, then it levels out to a rather enjoyable incline, then there is a very steep final 700m section at the end as you scramble up the rock to the quarry. You pass a few lakes including Yoho Lake and get spectacular views of mountain peaks, waterfalls and an aerial view of Emerald Lake. Unfortunately the day I went it rained all day (and snowed a little at the quarry) so the cloud cover was quite low and I wasn’t able to get the full view of the mountain peaks (I’ve seen pictures though and it’s amazing). I think this is an excellent example of a real “Canadian Rocky Mountain Hike” and it’s great because the guide is very informative and during the walk introduces you to different plants, birds, etc and finally the fossils. There isn’t too much at the quarry although it is very cool to be able to walk amongst the fossils and learn the significance of the site (the site was discovered in 1909!). Since it was so cold and snowy when I was at the quarry our time was cute short so we didn’t get to see too much (it’s great to be able to say I’ve been there though).
All this being said this is a LONG HIKE, 20km round trip (if not a bit more), plus an elevation gain of almost 800m at high elevations (the elevation of Walcott Quarry is 2280m). This hike takes at least 10 hours depending on how fast the group is. I would not recommend sending someone on this trip if they were new to hiking, or someone who was not properly acclimatized; it would be a very long tiring day for them.