Next time you’re visiting British Columbia’s Mount Robson Provincial Park and are looking for some off-the-beaten-track activity and adventure, then check out the Yellowhead Mountain Trail. Easily accessed from Highway 16 East, this short steep trail winds through some picturesque aspen and spruce stands and ends on a rocky outcrop providing stunning views of the mountains.
The Yellowhead Lake bridge connecting Highway 16 East with Lucerne, a historic rail town
Mount Robson Provincial Park, just west of Jasper National Park, features British Columbia’s highest peak (3, 954 meters) and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not surprisingly, this park and campgrounds can be packed during peak season. The Yellowhead Mountain Trail, however, provides a great getaway for those wanting “solitude with a view.”
This park has three campgrounds; Robson River and Meadows and Lucerne, which is the easternmost site. From the Lucerne Campground, ride a couple kilometers east on Highway 16 and take the access road south across Yellowhead lake. This dirt road winds its way through the timber, past some interesting cabins, ending at the railroad. There is a kiosk (with a map) on the right and a private cottage just to the east. The trailhead is on the north side of the tracks. You can park or leave your bikes there.
This historic buildings is dwarfed by Yellowhead Mountain to the north
Names after the Swiss town, Lucerne, BC was built at the terminus of the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway in 1913. At its peak it was populated by over three hundred people, however, in 1924, the railway division point–between this railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway–was moved to Jasper, Alberta. Many railroad workers, their families and buildings followed suit. Sometime after World War 2, the railway station was demolished.
The grey-barked aspen contrasted sharply with the bright green herbs as we ascended the trail
The trailhead is located in a grassy clearing across the tracks.This trail ascends almost immediately along a narrow ridge through beautiful aspen and spruce stands. Fireweed, black twinberry, bunchberry and other native plants press in on the trail. As you gain elevation, the forest opens up and viewscapes to the southeast begin to emerge. Near the top, the terrain gets rockier and aspen gives way to pine–some dead and bright red–and stunted juniper.
Looking south at Mount Fitzwilliam and Sepulture Peak
A wooden bench greats you at the top of the trail. Here you can enjoy stunning views of Mount Fitzwilliam and Sepulture Peak. You can also look west down Yellowhead lake. This a great spot to soak up the view, meditate or enjoy the company of a good friend.
The Yellowhead Mountain Trail is ideal for campers or for those wanting a break from driving. Pack light for the one-hour round trip. Don’t forget you’re hiking in bear country: so bring your bear spray and make lots of noise! For more info about outdoor adventure in northern British Columbia go to Travel Northern BC.