Yamnuska Natural Area exploring
various routefinding explorations in the NE third


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Distance - 9.49km Elevation gain - negligible
Total time - 2:54 moving, plus 53:21 stopped (surprisingly not more, given the wandering)

After my hike a couple weeks ago failed to turn up a good route through the Loon Lake section, I returned to try to find a better trail.
I started out by actually reading directions, and following a number of routes in the area immediately behind the Yamnuska trailhead, north of the ponds.
Some of these routes were better than others, but I was able to put together a few good trails connecting several different starting points.

Mount Yamnuska from the lookout bench.

The trail to the west.

And the one leading off to the east.

Mount Yamnuska from the beaver pond.

Looking along the beaver dam.

The small creek running out from the ponds.

The view from the middle road access.

I then started from the middle road access, which seemed to have the most clear trail, and attempted to find a route with decent trails all the way to the fence.
At the start, this looked good - there was a broad track, and a creek crossed almost immediately in was bridged with two logs that were surely placed there deliberately as a bridge.
Unfortunately, the trail filtered out after that, and while I was able to find a decent route through relatively open forest, I didn't find any real trail again until beside Loon Lake.

A small path leads across the field.

The carefully-placed logs suggest this is a trail.

Looking down the creek.

Yamnuska from the east end of the ponds.

Seeking a route through the open trees.

A better trail appears through this section.

A view out to Loon Lake.

The trail consolidates through the aspens.

Near Loon Lake, I managed to find a couple parallel bits of trail that led around the lake. None of them were perfect trail, but the direction was clear.
I followed through this section, and then into the trees again to the south.
I lost my route a few times again, having intermittent tree-wandering and open meadow, but eventually came out to the broad meadow that I know leads directly to the fence.

Loon Lake, with marshy edge.

Following a slight path through the forest.

Most of the paths are similar slight depressions.

Made it out to the long section of meadow near the fence.

Meeting the pathway on the south side of the fence.

A solid trail parallels the fence along the pond,

and continues to the NW through the meadow.

The beaver pond that marks the correct meadow to cross the fence at.

On the return, I had the benefit of following the directions as they are written, so I started out by walking to the end of the meadow, and seeking the mentioned flagging.
Unfortunately, despite the KCTG's claim, either I'm very very blind, or the flagging is no longer there. I went along the whole edge of the meadow, twice at the end, and found none.
Instead, I simply looked for the best route, and did manage to find a decent path leading off at one point.
With no given starting point and no other real useful information here, I returned to a backup plan.
Looking at the Google satellite views, one can easily see several clearings and meadow paths through this section.
Before I left, I grabbed the coordinates for several of the visible open areas, and entered them as waypoints in my GPS.
With the directions having failed, I used these for a guideline. Wherever possible, I followed trails found on the ground, and navigated as best as possible through the forest.
Where there were multiple trails spreading, or no trails, and several possible directions to follow, I referred to these waypoints, and aimed in their directions.
I found this actually made for a pretty good route. I was able to stay on decent routes with a good bit of trail, and several passages of open trees or meadow.
I'll have to return here in the spring and check the route with more vegetation and melted ground to ensure it still works, but it was a good system and found me an okay route.
Some parts I re-travelled areas I had walked on the way in or the previous week, which also helped suggest which areas were clearly right, with multple routes converging, and which areas had a lot of possibilities.

Looking up the meadow to return.

A bit of trail appears not far into the trees.

Crossing through what looks like a marsh.

A solid path leads through the area.

The trail continues back into fairly open forest.

Another open meadow with just a bit of path.

Following up through the meadow.

The trail filters out but a path can be found to the end from here.

The best route I followed actually comes out to the third Yamnuska access road trailhead.
I imagine there must be a link there somewhere as well, but I ended up just walking over to access 2, and then taking the good trail from there.
This route parallels the access road, but much more scenicly, passing the access road trailhead 1, and then ascending back to the beaver ponds overlook.

Back on the vehicle track that parallels the access road.

Three trails join here - right to the road, but back follows the left trail.

That trail leads back to the beaver pond overlook.

The west end of the ponds are frozen.

Looking up NW to the end of the ponds.

A trail leads along the overlook, but then ends in trees.

After the big exploration, I wanted to also scout out a couple more connections on the NW corner.
After walking along the overlook route and coming to a dead end, I returned. I'm sure the route could be pushed through to join others, but I didn't try.
I went back and took an alternate path to the cutline, which was indeed a nicer route than walking the road.
I followed it past Meadow Lake, and on to the 4-way junction I've visited before.

Looking down the cutline.

The cutline continues, but the Meadow Lake trail turns off.

Looking back at the wide trail to Meadow Lake.

A narrower trail continues past the lake, with some new snow.

Mount Yamnuska and Meadow Lake - now much more frozen.

Walking the trail to junction.

The final section leads on.

I've checked out both SE-bound routes before, but never followed the one leading NW, which is this trip's indended destination.
It eventually heads pretty much north to connect with the cutline, and then the quarry access road, crossing that too and likely going on to the Yamnuska trail.
It was good to explore the rest of this route, but it's not something I'd plan to visit again for its own sake.

The trail immediately goes up a brief hill.

The trail continues past the quarry road.

The cutline also continues past the furthest point I walked.

A final look at the beaver pond outlook in the evening.

Photos taken by Rachel

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