Wapta means “river” in the language of the Stoney Nakoda First Nations. The falls can be found near the west gate of Yoho National Park on the Kicking Horse River. It’s one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The waterfall, the third largest (by volume of water) waterfall in Canada, is accessible relatively easily off the Trans Canada Highway #1. The hiking trail is closed in winter. In summer, there are two ways to get to this world famous waterfall: 1) the official Yoho National Park hiking trail to the north side of the waterfalls, and 2) the unofficial trail that guides you to the other side (south side) of the waterfalls for a more amazing, splendid view!!
The north side view is obstructed by a giant hill; however, it takes you up close to the base of the waterfalls. The south side view offers a wide open spectacular aerial view of the entire waterfalls without any obstruction; however, you will not be able to get to the base of the falls. This article will show you how to get to both sides of Wapta Falls.
Official Wapta Falls Hiking Trail
The official Yoho National Park trail takes you to the north side of Wapta Falls. The view is not as impressive as the other route described below.
Distance: 2.4km one way (45min one way)
Trail access: Drive west 22km from the town Field on Highway #1 to the Wapta Falls trail turnoff. Turn left and drive 1.8km on a gravel road to the national park’s trail signpost which marks the begining of hiking trail. An easy stroll along a level path for 1.9km to the top of the falls. From here, a trail heads back into the forest for a bit before heading to the river and the bottom of the falls. You lose about 60m in elevation on the way down and regain it coming back up.
The trail allows you to access to the base of the falls; however, the view is obstructed by a giant hill making it difficult to photograph the whole waterfalls. :(
Official Website: Yoho National Park
Unofficial Hiking Trail to Wapta Falls
This secret, hidden trail lies “outside” the boundry of Yoho National Park; that’s why it’s an unofficial hiking trail. Not many people know about this trail. If you do, this trail takes you to the other side (south) of Wapta Falls with a breathtaking view of the entire falls as shown above!!! :D Let me know if you need more help in direction.
Distance: similar to the official trail about 2km one way (easy trail; flat throughout the entire trail)
Secret Trail Access #1:
Drive west 0.6km from the west gate of Yoho National Park. Turn south (left if you’re coming from Calgary) to Beaverfoot Road (see Google Map at the end of this page). Use your GPS device. Beaverfoot Road should be on GPS map. After crossing the Kicking Horse River bridge, follow this gravel road for about 9km to Fraser Creek. If you reach Beaverfoot Lodge (located at km 13), you’ve gone too far.
How do I know it’s Fraser Creek?
- As you drive on Beaverfoot Road, there will be road signs starting with numerical number 1, 2, 3,… indicating km 1, km 2, km 3,…etc. The bridge at km 9 spans across Fraser Creek.
- There is a sign at km 9 with an arrow pointing to the direction of Wapta Falls.
Point A of Hiking Map
* See hiking map at end of the page for reference.
Point B of Hiking Map
Point C of Hiking Map
Secret Trail Access #2: Wapta Falls Recreation Site
Website: Wapta Falls Recreation Site – BC Forest Service
Hiking Map – Point A, B, C
Google Map – Beaverfoot Road
The Green Arrow on the following map (click EXTERNAL LINK below to view map) indicates the intersection of Beaverfoot Road and Trans-Canada Highway #1. Once your get to Beaverfoot Road, follow the instructions above to get to the hiking trail.