– The Emerald connector –
When I arrived at the Natural Bridge in Yoho yesterday, I could see they had at least 10 cm of new snow in the past day or two.
My plan was to ski the Emerald Connector, as I wanted to check out the new section(aka the Re-connector), which was constructed this year to bypass the avalanche zone. The Emerald Connector is an extremely enjoyable trail with small rolling hills as it winds through the forest between the Natural Bridge and Emerald Lake.
The trail had been well skied-in by other skiers, and I did a portion of it again today after it was freshly trackset this morning.
Starting at the Natural Bridge it’s a short 300 metres to the turn-off to the new portion of the trail. Going left will put you onto the Re-connector which is about 700 metres long and it gains 50 metres of elevation, so it has some steep sections. It’ll be tricky if you’re coming downhill (towards the Natural Bridge). Today on the new grooming it was all fun. I could see the tracksetter had done some shoveling to smooth out one sharp downhill corner.
After the climb, it joins the original Emerald Connector which you can follow all the way to Emerald Lake. Total distance from the Natural Bridge to Emerald Lake used to be 8.9K. It should be slightly shorter now, maybe around 8K?
Truth be told, the best way to enjoy the Emerald Connector is to start at Emerald Lake and have someone pick you up at the Natural Bridge. There’s a net elevation loss of 70 metres.
I see the avalanche-zone portion of the Connector has a snowmobile track on it. Ski at your own risk, I guess. In the 10 years that I’ve been skiing this trail, I’ve only heard of the one avalanche on this particular spot on the trail.
This morning I skied around Emerald Lake and through the alluvial fan. The alluvial fan would have to rate as one of the most scenic trackset trails in the Rocky Mountains.
I started by going past the Peaceful Pond. It’s exactly the same start as if you were taking the Emerald Connector, but you turn left over a small bridge after about 100 metres. It’s nice to start here and finish on the Horse trail which runs along the west side of the lake, allowing you to ski a complete loop without retracing any steps.
I enjoy the Peaceful Pond section when it’s in good shape. Right now I wouldn’t recommend it, but not because of a lack of snow. It’s blanketed in new snow. There are steep hills where the grooming width is too narrow to do a proper herring-bone or snowplow, so it’s difficult going up and coming down a couple of the hills. I had to take my skis off twice.
The Yoho trail report says, “Peaceful Pond trail is groomed, not trackset. There are steep hills with sharp turns that require strong snowplow skills. Beginner skiers are advised to walk up and down these hills.”
The grooming on the east side of the lake was a few days old and the tracks were pretty much obliterated by snowshoers and fresh snow. When I reached the alluvial fan in 3K, the tracksetting looked to be fairly recent, maybe from yesterday.
Believe it or not, I was the first one on the trail today and had to break trail in a dusting of overnight snow. The air temperature was -2°C and the snow was a purple wax -3.
Just a reminder, if you enjoy skiing at Emerald Lake and Yoho, consider buying a membership in the Kicking Horse Ski Club. It’s due to their efforts that we have trackset trails in Yoho.
A long, gentle 1K downhill gets you started on the Kicking Horse River trail. It also starts at the Natural Bridge. Beware, if the parking lot hasn’t been plowed, park at the side of the road. I had to help a German couple get their rented 4WD Jeep unstuck today.
This trail had also just been trackset this morning and was beautiful as now the snow was falling. Your typical winter wonderland.
Unfortunately, all this beautiful new tracksetting will be covered with snow by tomorrow if the weather forecast is accurate, as there’s 10-15 cm predicted for Yoho.
This would be a good time to remind everyone there’s only three days remaining to enter the Emerald Lake Lodge contest. I’ve just added five photos to the contest, and I read some very interesting new comments.
BOB—you are INCREDIBLE! What a GREAT write up!
THANK YOU SO MUCH! You have been so wonderful and helpful to our CLUB that it was suggested by one of our members -Maggie Fields- to make you a LIFETIME HONORARY MEMBER to the Kicking Horse Ski Club.
You deserve much praise and recognition. We will also make plaques and add your website to each of our “Trail of Skees”. YOU ROCK BOB!
SKEE YA LATER HEY??
Hey , yaaa thanks for all the great news ,and passion about skiing .
Just for clarification, from the natural bridge parking lot do you have to cross the road to access the connector?
You do have to cross the road from the parking lot. There’s a pole with a yellow flag at the Emerald Connector trailhead. Click this link for a photo of the trailhead area. http://skierbob.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Trailhead-map.png
Is there a map of the trails in Yoho? I have booked 2 nights at the lodge after New Years and have never ski’d there before. Where is the Natural Bridge that you refer to? Also I have heard that you can now ski the Takkakka Falls road (spelling?). Is this a fact? Thanks.
On the Main Menu under Resources – Maps, there’s a link to Parks Canada’s map of Yoho’s winter trails: http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/yoho/activ/pistesdhiver-wintertrails/carte-map.aspx
The Natural Bridge is on the road to Emerald Lake 2.3K from the highway. The road to Emerald Lake is a short distance past Field as you’re going west(maybe 1 or 2K)
Thanks for all the helpful information Bob!
Hi Bob….no one answered my question on whether the Takkakaw Falls road is track set. Can you help to answer this?
The Yoho trail report indicates fresh snow and skier-set tracks. There is nothing current regarding this trail on the KHSC website. I don’t have any further info. -Bob
KHSC updated info today: “Takkakaw is still ski set only.”
Stop at the Field Visitor Centre and I’m sure they can fix you up with trail information. The Lodge also has a photo copied map of the local trails. You will drive right by the Natural Bridge parking lot on your way into the lodge. The Kicking Horse River Trail is another great little ski, the trail head for that is at the Natural Bridge as well. The Takakkaw Falls road is the same as the Yoho Valley Road. The trail head is at the Monarch Campground, (campground is closed but there are washrooms that are open) there is good signage on the highway. It wasn’t track set when we did it on the 23rd, however we were told they were going to do it on the 26th. Hope that helps a bit, happy skiing, you’re gunna love it!
Just a note to Nancy and Wendy – the Field Visitor Centre is closed for the winter. The Lake Louise Visitor Center is open Thur-Sun where you can get all the trail maps and condition updates.
thanks for the heads up!
Thanks Wendy. Can’t wait!
Hi Bob ; My favorite way to ski the Emerald Connector is to park at the Natural Bridge [hope thy plow out some parking soon ] and ski up the connector , have lunch at the lodge ,loop the Emerald trails , then ski back down ! But who’s got time for that ? [Except guys who write about skiing .] Hans is out there this morning doing the trails near the lake , and I plan to go later and re track the connector . Yesterday I left loose snow along the edge of the connector so that today Ican take my ‘Wing Grader’ along and pull snow away from that edge into the trail and away from all the stumps hidden along that up hill side . We use to have to shovel all that by hand ,on snowshoes before we could machine pack it [about 200 hours of team work] , but the new equipment has cut that down to about 10 to 20 hours . This may be one of the toughest trails to build anywhere because there is no trail there in the summer , just a path thru the woods with humps and hollows .stumps , hills that are too steep , and it is all sloped to th side and needs to be leveled before we can track set it . It makes me tired just thinking about it ! I’d go back to bed ,but Bruce called me and asked if I would go groom the trails at Lake Louise around the Chateau this morning ,as they were burried under the heavyish snow fall yesterday . Ski Ya Later ! ,as Bruce says.
We skied the Emerald Connector on the 24th and agree that it is a delightful, fun trail. We had about 3-4 cm of new snow. According to our Garmin the distance from the bridge across Peaceful Pond (this is where we started our Garmin) to the Natural Bridge was 7.3 km with an elevation loss of 83 meters. Accumulative elevation round trip was 183 meters and 14.6 km. We also skied the Yoho Valley Road to the switchbacks, lots of fresh fluffy snow on top of skier set tracks, thanks to the group who had skied to the Stanley Mitchell Hut two days earlier. Emerald Lake truly is a magical place!