The trails that lead out from Emerald Lake are among the most popular in the park. The Emerald Lake Trail is a 5.2km (3.2-mile), all-abilities nature loop that leads from the parking area to the bridge at the back of the lake. At the end of the lake, it connects to the Emerald Basin Trail, an 8.6km (5.3-mile) round-trip hike ending dramatically in a natural amphitheater of hanging glaciers and avalanche paths. The Emerald Lake circuit alone will take 1 to 2 hours; the Emerald Basin Trail is a half-day hike taking from 3 to 4 hours.
The Yoho Glacier Moraine Trail is a half-day hike, 8.2km (5.1 miles) in length that passes by Laughing Falls en route to Twin Falls, the most popular destination in the valley. Energetic folks can continue to the top of Twin Falls, then over the Whaleback Trail for some of the most incredible views of glaciers in the park. Returning to Takakkaw Falls via the Whaleback and Laughing falls is a 20km (12-mile) circuit.
Heading up to the Burgess Shale formations is limited to guided hikes. The exquisitely preserved fossils discovered here were like none seen before, and even today are still reshaping our understanding of early evolution of modern animal life. The Yoho-Burgess Shale Foundation (tel. 800/343-3006; www.burgess-shale.bc.ca) offers educational hikes from July to mid-September. The Burgess Shale Hike is 20km (12 miles) round-trip, a moderately difficult 10-hour trek. The cost is C$100 adults, C$50 for students, and C$25 for children under 12. The Mount Stephen Fossil Beds hike is a moderately difficult 6km (3.7 miles), lasting about 6 hours. The cost is C$75 adults, C$50 for students, and C$25 for children under 12. Other options include a special hike for seniors and the Mary Vaux Interpretive Hike. Call ahead for reservations.