The whitebark pine tree is endangered, and Parks Canada is using prescribed fires to try and save it.
Want to learn more about this, and other conservation efforts happening in Canada’s national parks? Reserve your spot on one of the new guided hikes in Yoho and Banff!
If you’re new to hiking, these Parks Canada hikes are a great way to get started. You’ll be able to ask your guide for backcountry tips and also learn fun things to look for on the trail. The more you know about local plants and animals, the more interesting your future hikes will be.
In the case of the prescribed fires and the whitebark pine, you’ll not only learn why conservationists are using fire management techniques to create habitat, but also meet the other characters in the story of this endangered species.
Guided hikes are also a great choice if you’re nervous about wildlife — Yoho and Banff National Parks are definitely grizzly bear country, so your guide can teach you how to hike responsibly. These hikes will always have small group sizes, and in response to COVID-19, hikes will be capped at six participants.
Paget Fire Lookout, Yoho National Park
It’s a leg-burning uphill climb to the fire lookout through dense forest and wildflower meadows, with glimpses of the turquoise Sherbrooke Lake and hints of the rugged mountain views you’ll enjoy from the peak. As you might expect from a fire lookout, the views from Paget go for miles. See the tiny town of Field and the braided Kicking Horse River far below, plus the awe-inspiring peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Along the way you’ll learn about the endangered whitebark pine, and the grizzlies, birds and bugs who rely on the tree.
Distance: 7 km (4.3 miles) round trip
Elevation: 520 metres (1,706 feet) gain and loss
Duration: 7.5 hours
Hidden Lake, Banff National Park
Your Parks Canada guided hike begins with a shuttle ride up the fire road, which cuts out a dull section of the trek and turn your outing into a family-friendly 10 km. You’ll amble up to Hidden Lake, a gorgeous blue lake surrounded by rugged mountain peaks and home to the Hidden Lake Westslope Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project. A healthy environment includes all of its parts, and on the hike you’ll learn how conservationists are working to restore habitat for the westslope cutthroat trout, a species at risk. If you’re lucky, you may spot mountain goats from Hidden Lake, or schedule your hike for September to catch the golden larch trees in the fall.
Distance: 10 km (6 miles) round trip
Elevation: 270 metres (880 feet) gain and loss
Duration: 7.5 hours
Reservations for these two hikes open April 13! Book your spot online at reservation.pc.gc.ca, or by phone at 1-877-RESERVE. You’ll need to have the names and ages of all participants, emergency contact and medical info plus a credit card to book.