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 in Yoho National Park. 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 in my view.
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Stats for the Yoho Valley Trail hike
Distance: Total one way mileage – 10.2 km
Elevation gain: 545 m or 1,788 feet
Time needed: It took us 3.25 hours with two stops at a moderate pace.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending what shape you’re in and how heavy a load you’re carrying.
Dogs permitted: Yes on a leash, but not allowed at the Stanley Mitchell Hut.
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, especially considering the avalanche danger on route.
Where to start the hike to Stanley Mitchell Hut
Begin the hike to Stanley Mitchell Hut on the Yoho Valley Trail at the Takakkaw Falls parking lot. Takakkaw 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 hiking is easy on route to the Stanley Mitchell Hut except for one steep but short section. Look for an assortment of wildflowers along the way. They sure make the hike more colourful and 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.
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 Stanley Mitchell 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 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 m further along the trail.
Hiking options from the Stanley Mitchell hut
The views are truly stupendous from the Stanley Mitchell 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.
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.