Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,160.00 m (3,805.77 ft)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
9.77 km (6.07 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Yamnuska Chain Walk's location at the gateway to the Rockies, its incredible views, and a novel chainwalk make it a Calgary classic. The route involves some interesting features and superb views the whole way through.

The trailhead is located just off the Trans Canada Highway before it snakes into the Rocky Mountains. Follow signs for Yamnuska, which lead you to a dirt parking lot. The trailhead is on the western end.

The trail begins gently through forests of Aspen. In spring and fall, these are particularly lovely. Steadily, the trail heads upward, bringing you to a three-way junction for the climber's trail, or the main trail. Head right and follow the trail east as it meanders into open terrain, giving you stellar views of the Rocky Mountain foothills before returning west toward the mountain.

The trail heads straight for the base of Yamnuska's long ridge at a outcropping of rocks called Raven's Crag, named for the birds who play in the wind here. From a distance, this appears daunting, but as you get closer it is apparent that it's just a quick hop over boulders in a gully with no exposure. You do have to use a hand here and there, but you're tucked safely between a couple rocks, and there is no serious risk of falling.

From here, you follow a trail that runs lengthwise across the northern face of Yamnuska. In winter, it is not recommended to visit this area after significant snowfall, and always wear crampons or microspikes of some kind as well as a trekking pole or an ice ax.

The trail can be exposed at times, but for the most part it is fairly straightforward. At about 3.65 kilometers, you encounter the "Chain Walk." A thick chain is bolted into the rock along a section of steep trail that moves across a ledge no more then a 1 to 2 feet wide. For those not used to scrambling, it can be quite exhilarating. The Chain provides a solid handhold that one can easily use to make their way across with. This is also one of the only spots with overhead hazard.

From here, it's pretty straightforward toward the true summit. After you've savored the views, you're going to start the descent. The first section starts pretty quickly, and you quickly funnel into a steep scree slope—but this is the finest, lightest, and most consistent scree in the Rockies.

Experienced "Yamaineers" will charge down this like it's snow, letting the very absorbent scree cushion their impact so they can speed downhill. The trick is to keep pumping your feet like you're squishing grapes, and always plunge your foot heel first.

The first scree slope abruptly ends, and you make your way down the west side of Yamnuska, curving east underneath the impressive south face. If you go early in the day, you may catch a glimpse of the many rock climbers that frequent this face. 

Carry on down toward the second scree slope. This is the longest of the two. Some of the lines of scree have more than others, and some have patches of dirt. Don't take the first line that presents itself. If you traverse east, you will find better lines for "scree running."

At the base, the trail to the Yamnuska Chain Walk becomes a regular path gently sloping down, where it meets up with the eastward trail to Raven's Crag and the quick descent to the parking lot.

Good hiking or approach shoes are recommended for the Yamnuska Chain Walk. The descent in the scree fields destroys running shoes. Gaiters are also a good idea as little pebbles are inevitable. While the Yamnuska Chain Walk is a scramble, there is no need for helmets; the only overhead hazard comes from other people off route. Because of the chains this is an ideal first scramble for those who have never before experienced one.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Fall
Summer

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Classic hike. Chains are a really cool experience.

Cons

Busy. Windy.

Trailhead Elevation

4,790.03 ft (1,460.00 m)

Highest point

7,185.04 ft (2,190.00 m)

Features

Guided tours
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Waterfalls
Wildlife
Big Game Watching
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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