The Stanley Mitchell Hut in Yoho National Park is the gateway to some fabulous fabulous backcountry hiking. It’s easiest to access by hiking the Yoho Valley Trail from the Takakkaw Falls parking lot. Your other option is doing it via the Iceline Trail but that requires more effort.
The Stanley Mitchell Hut – as you’ll see when you scroll down, provides a dry roof over your head but in summer when it’s busy, be prepared to be sleeping in a stranger’s armpit. If you want a bit of privacy the nearby camping option would be preferable.
Where to start the hike to Stanley Mitchell Hut
Begin the hike on the Yoho Valley Trail at the Takakkaw Falls parking lot. The falls themselves are fantastic – and the second largest in western Canada. There’s a very pretty backcountry campground within 10 minutes of the trailhead. Pushcarts are provided so you don’t even have to carry your gear.
Then it’s a mostly unremarkable walk along an old fire road to Laughing Falls. There are a few short side-trips you can do along the way – Angel’s Staircase, Point Lace Falls and Duchesnay Lake.
Most of the walking is easy except for one steep but short section. Look for an assortment of wildflowers along the way – they sure make the hike more interesting.
A hike on the Yoho Valley Trail
The Yoho Valley Trail is not the most interesting trail and it’s not one I would do if I wasn’t planning to spend the night at the hut or camp out at the Little Yoho Campground. But it’s a far easier to hike into the Stanley Mitchell Hut on this trail than via the Iceline Trail.
If you can, do a loop and hike out on the truly spectacular Iceline Trail.
When you reach Laughing Falls – at the confluence of the Yoho and Little Yoho Rivers there’s another pretty campground. About 100 m past the campground you arrive at a junction.
Head right for Twin Falls BUT stay left to continue to continue to Stanley Mitchell Hut. From here the going gets tougher. The topography steepens until you reach the turnoff for Marpole Lake, 1.6 km ahead.
Then it’s another 0.6 km to reach the turnoff to the Whaleback Trail and from there it’s a gentle 2.9 km to the hut through beautiful forest as shown in the photo below.
Here’s a sampling of the wildflowers seen along the Yoho Valley Trail
What it’s like at the hut
The Stanley Mitchell hut gets busy on summer weekends. On the weekend we visited the Alpine Club had booked 25 people into the place – and let me tell you – that makes it packed to the brim.
Kitchen space is at a premium and so is the sleeping space. It’s dorm style – with 19 people sleeping together upstairs and 6 downstairs. My husband and I were so packed together on 1.5 mattresses instead of two that you didn’t dare roll over.
But it does give you a roof over your head if it storms – which it did on the Friday night. Your other option – and one I would consider on another trip – is to pack in a tent and camp at the Little Yoho Campground – just 200 m further along the trail.
Hiking options from the hut
The views are truly stupendous from this hut and there are loads of day hiking options including climbs of The President and The Vice President, a hike to Kiwetinok Lake or exploring the waterfalls and glaciers just an hour from the hut.
Read: The President Range Hiking Trails in Yoho National Park
Getting to the Takakkaw Falls Trailhead
Turn north onto Yoho Valley Road from the Trans Canada Highway. The turnoff is 7.8 miles from the Alberta – BC boundary and 2.3 miles from the visitor’s center in Field.
Follow the Yoho Valley Road for 8.2 miles to the Takakkaw Falls parking lot. Make sure you have a valid National Park’s pass. In the summer months they are sold about a mile up the Yoho Valley Road and in fact the park people won’t let you continue without the proper pass.
How to book the hut
You need to email or phone the people at the Alpine Club of Canada website. They can be reached at 403-678-3200 ext. 0. It may be worth joining the club to get a discounted rate.
Stats for the Yoho Valley Trail hike
Total one way mileage – 10.2 km and a vertical gain – 545 m or 1,788 feet
It took us 3.25 hours with two stops at a moderate pace.
Be sure to check with Yoho National Park if you’ve booked the hut for late June or early July – before you go.
There are people in the winter who take two days and ski into the hut – basically from the highway. You need to be in great shape and have the right winter touring skill-set to consider that trip.
Where to stay nearby
If you’re after an upscale place to stay before your backcountry trip that’s on the access road check out my blog post on What it’s Like to Stay at Cathedral Lodge.
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