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Hiking The Yoho Valley Trail To The Stanley Mitchell Hut

Hiking the Yoho Valley Trail to the Stanley Mitchell Hut

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.

Takakkaw Falls on the way to Stanley Mitchell Hut
Takakkaw Falls – meaning magnificent falls

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.

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.

John standing beside the wild Yoho River
John standing beside the wild Yoho River
Laughing Falls is one stop on the way to Stanley Mitchell Hut
Laughing Falls is one stop on the way to Stanley Mitchell Hut

Laughing Falls

When you reach Laughing Falls – at the confluence of the Yoho and Little Yoho Rivers there’s another pretty campground. About 100 metres 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 kilometres ahead.

Then it’s another 0.6 kilometres to reach the turnoff to the Whaleback Trail and from there it’s a gentle 2.9 kilometres to the Stanley Mitchell Hut through beautiful forest as shown in the photo below.

Laughing Falls
Laughing Falls throw quite a spray
The wooded Yoho Valley Trail
The wooded Yoho Valley Trail

Here’s a sampling of the wildflowers seen along the Yoho Valley Trail

Indian paintbrush in white
Indian paintbrush in white
Yoho Valley wildflower
I don’t know what this wildflower is

 

Pretty wildflowers on the way up to Stanley Mitchell Hut
Pretty wildflowers on the way up to Stanley Mitchell Hut
Beautiful wildflowers
Wildflowers along the Yoho Valley Trail
Pretty backdrop close to the Stanley Mitchell Hut
Pretty backdrop close to the Stanley Mitchell Hut

The Stanley Mitchell 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 metres further along the trail.

Stanley Mitchell Hut
Stanley Mitchell Hut
Dormitory style sleeping - a little too close for comfort
Dormitory style sleeping – a little too close for comfort and a no-go with COVID

Hiking options from the Stanley Mitchell 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 

View outside of the Stanley Mitchell Hut
View outside of the Stanley Mitchell Hut

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.

Booking the Stanley Mitchell 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 kilometres and a vertical gain – 545 metres 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.

Further reading on hiking in British Columbia

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The hike to Stanley Mitchell Hut in Yoho National Park

 

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. You definitely know where the beautiful parts of the back country are Leigh. I’m particularly appreciative of the fact that you led us to a hut tonight instead of a place to set up a tent. Sure it looks crowded, but that’s a price I’ll pay to have some shelter and some Wi-Fi. The hut does have Wi-Fi right?

    1. Where does one book the backcountry camping for little yoho campsite near the Stanley Mitchell hut. I don’t see it on the pc booking website

      1. @Anita I would suggest emailing Yoho National Park directly as they are really good about replying. Not even sure if it has to be booked as there are some places in the park that don’t. But double check with them especially with the virus this year.

  2. I like how much I’m learning about Western Canada from all your hikes. Another beautiful and scenic one, Leigh. That is a long hike and I’m not too sure about the lodging option there. That is packed and looks uncomfortable and awkward sleeping too closely with all those strangers. I love how you can almost feel the texture on those wildflowers.

  3. What a wonderful waterfall indeed, Takakkaw is… And the scenes along the way are pretty, those flowers are so fresh.
    The Laughing Falls is a bit scary though!

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