Yamnuska Natural Area SW Loop
Another YNA loop, this one on the SW side


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Distance - 10.4km Elevation gain - 204m
3:56 (moving) loop, + 2:23 stopped including a lot of navigation hunting

For the first time, I started from the southmost access, at the landfill. (It's a big-stuff dump, not a household waste dump - lots of debris, no smell.)
There is a parking area immediately opposite the landfill, and while the route directions seem like there might be more to it, the start is very straightforward.
We walk up the road and then follow the fenceline to the northeast corner (850m), and then further along the north fence a short distance more.
The majority of this section was nearly dry, but there was a little snow and ice in the low sections - much of which was water on the way home.
We did run into one short steep downhill that was terribly icy, and we slipped on our microspikes for it, but they weren't necessary for any other part of the route.

The start of the landfill fenceline.

Looking back at the start of the trail.

The view down the powerline immediately crossed.

The trail continues along the fenceline.

Patti and Belinda hike the trail.

Debris downwind of the landfill.

The trail winds wide to a view of Yamnuska.

Belinda and Patti pick their way down an icy hill.

After the NE corner of the landfill, there are multiple trail options.
Shortly after turning the corner, a trail turns off to the right (I don't know where this one goes), and another junction follows right away.
The second junction brings in the main valley loop trail's SE section, but we head left again at this point to start that loop in the other direction.
Not long after that, the climber's trail turns off towards the Goat Slabs area - looking well-travelled lately.
Continuing on the main trail, the route is clear and fairly broad, but well sheltered in the trees, and held quite a bit of good snow.
The trail continues up to the high point, a broad pass between Goat and the "Great Moraine" hill on the side.

The good trail heads along the north fence.

The main loop trail.

The view up to Loder Peak and the attractive Goat walls.

The pass below the swirling Goat cliff.

The pass is a pretty enough area, with fairly open conifer trees and a spectacular view of the Goat Ridge cliff layers.
Just before the high point, we left the trail and just headed up the short hill to the top of the south end of the Moraine.
The Moraine opens up a fantastic view, and is really pretty in itself.
We walked along the Moraine northbound until it ended in that direction, and the lower continuation NE was thoroughly choked with trees and vegetation.
At that point, we just picked a line and headed back downhill.
With the snow on the hillside, there wasn't much in the way of trails visible on either side, but it's a very short distance and easy to just cruise.

The south end of the Great Moraine.

Patti and Belinda continue to the south end.

The neat ridgecrest of the moraine with mixed undergrowth and boulders.

Yamnuska from the top of the moraine.

More view east from the moraine crest.

Belinda and Patti walk the moraine top.

Continuing along the moraine.

Looking back down the pretty moraine.

Snow on the shadowed north end.

The view SW from the moraine.

Another view up to Yamnuska.

Snow and brush at the NE end of the moraine.

The north end completely runs out.

A bit of a path back down to the trail.

A snowy section getting back onto the trail.

Once we rejoined the main trail, it curves around the SW side on good trail. The trail starts in open forest, then forked.
One fork curved right and into forest, which seemed the right direction, and we took it into conifer forest.
The other trail continued straight ahead and then very steeply up a hill. I don't know where this one goes, and will have to return to investigate.
We followed the Hidden Valley trail until it curved in and met with the centre shortcut route.

Yamnuska from the snowy main trail.

Swirly Goat Mountain.

Belinda and Patti hike the Hidden Valley trail.

A side trail leads off up a hill - to investigate.

We follow the trail curving NE through the trees.

The trail opens up into some meadows.

The end of the Hidden Valley trail back in open forest.

Belinda and Patti walk in to the junction.

We turned down the centre lakes trail, and passed Crescent Lake and Hilltop Pond, then stopped for lunch on the way down to Reed Lake.
We then turned right and started down the final section of trail, looking for a listed 5-way junction.

Crescent Lake.

Patti and Belinda hike the shore trail.

The route down to Hilltop pond.

Hilltop Pond.

Hilltop Pond and Goat Ridge.

The route beyond to Reed Lake.

We reached what seemed like it might be the 5-way junction, and headed up the hillside to visit Coyote Lake for interest and to confirm the junction.
Coyote Lake itself was unimpressive (and the trail filtered out quickly, before reaching it), but the hillside on the way was beautiful.
With that confirmation, we started down what appeared to be the correct route, though with snow on the ground, it was hard to tell.
The route, had there been one, filtered out quite quickly, and while I looked for other paths, we ended up just navigating generally to Twin Lakes.
I'll need to come back here, probably a couple times again, to find a decent path through this section.
Travel is easy enough, but I found little in the way of decent trail.

The colourful hillside on the way to Coyote Lake.

Uninspiring Coyote Lake.

The route on the way to Twin Lakes.

Twin Lakes from the north.

The Twin Lakes are pretty, and together, one of the larger bodies of water in the area. The west lake is also quite deep, with a big dropoff.
They were frozen, but with a few patches of water. They must be very pretty in the spring once everything is green.
From there, we followed the lakeshore around and headed for The Sink.
As Daffern mentions, there are a billion little animal paths going all over the place, and the directions didn't help us much.
We just headed straight for The Sink, as suggested, and found reasonably decent going through fairly open forest.

The view down to Twin Lakes from the decent access trail.

The eastern lake.

The view down and into the larger West Lake - very deep.

Bits of trail on the west side of the lake.

The snow doesn't help with the routefinding.

Following traillets on the small rise.

Typical trail between the lakes.

Belinda and Patti trek through the forest.

Good path through a clearing.

The final small ridge in to the Sink.

We arrive at The Sink.

The valley of the Sink.

Pretty hillside above the sink.

There is almost no water in the bottom at this time.

The floor of the Sink and tiny pool.

There appears to be an open route on the NW corner of the Sink.

Rather than taking the apparent open area, we followed the instructions and sought a trail marked with flagging.
Unlike last time, we did find the flagging here - but there was no shred of a trail. Just a short bushwhack up to the ridge.
I'd suggest taking the open area.
From the ridge, we saw more flagging in the trees below, but no sign of trail, so this time we took the obvious trail instead.
It contoured along the ridge, and took us generally towards the landfill.
The trail was not consistent, but where it died out, we easily moved through the open terrain.

The mentioned juniper/kinnickinnick ridge.

The questionable flagging down the other side.

Looking back along the ridge.

The clear trail we followed out.

Trail continues in open forest.

A look back at the Yamnuska view from near the end.

A final trail leads back to the landfill fence.

Pretty terrain just shortly east of the fence.

The trails met the dump fence very close to the end, skipping most of the up and down from our way in.
We followed the fenceline trail back to the end.

Pretty terrain along the landfill fence.

Patti and Belinda make it back to the access road.

Photos taken by Rachel

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