Laughing Falls

August 1, 2022. Fun family hiking along the Yoho River.

  • Region: Yoho National Park. Traditional territory of the Ktunaxa, Stoney, and Blackfoot First Nations
  • Distance: 11.4 km round-trip
  • Total Ascent: Approximately 200 m
  • Total Time: 3h 20m
  • Safety and Disclaimer

The family and I paid another visit to Takakkaw Falls this summer. Last time we visited it was just a stopover on our way to Emerald Lake. Today we wanted to hike somewhere in the area of Takakkaw. Twin Falls is, by all accounts, an excellent objective but we couldn’t get everyone on board with doing a longer hike. So, we settled on Laughing Falls which is a closer objective on the way to Twin Falls and proved to be a satisfying half-day hike.

Access is via the Yoho Valley Road, which follows the course of the Yoho River north from the Trans-Canada Highway. If approaching from the east, the turn-off is about 13 km from the Alberta/BC border. The road is closed October-June and is not suitable for trailers or very long vehicles due to an area of very tight switchbacks. Click here for the Google Map. There are decent toilet facilities at the parking lot. It’s a busy place and we were fortunate to find a parking spot even though we arrived early.

Ample signage is present from the parking lot directing you to the hiking trails. We set off to the north, soon passing a campground and over braided creeks coming down from the left. Shortly after we encountered an intersection with signage pointing towards Angel Staircase Falls and Point Lace Falls. We carried on towards Laughing Falls, but visited both those waterfalls on the return trip. The trail then climbs at a reasonably steep grade for a short time before coming to another intersection with a side trail heading off to Lake Duchesnay. Just before reaching Laughing Falls, the trail comes alongside the Yoho River as it crashes through a gorge. Finally, the trail reaches the Laughing Falls backcountry campground and the waterfall itself.

We enjoyed a lunch as we sat at the foot of the waterfall. As we began to make our way back, discussion ensued about the seeming absurdity of hiking for more than 5 km to see a waterfall when we had parked our car in full view of arguably the most magnificent waterfall in the Rocky Mountains. It was actually a good talk, and in itself a good example of why we hike with friends and family. Even just 5 km into the wilderness we are physically removed from the distractions of our daily lives and that makes mentally leaving those things behind much easier. As a result, we get to be more fully present with our own selves and those around us. Our family discussions on the trail are wide-ranging and (from a parent’s point of view) fascinating. Having said all that, Laughing Falls was quite a nice waterfall to visit and this is a worthwhile short hike in Yoho. We had good weather for our visit but it’s the sort of trail that would also be a good choice for a rainy day.

Click/tap on the pictures in the gallery below to access higher-resolution images.

Route overview looking north.
On the trail. It immediately passes by Takakkaw Falls Campground then into this open area.
The trail reaches a low bridge passing over this braided creek coming down from the mountain slopes on the left.
Branch trails to Angel Staircase Falls and Point Lace Falls are clearly signed.
Most of the ascent on this trip was concentrated over a short distance just after the branch trails to the two other waterfalls.
A bench has been carved into this fallen tree.
Before reaching Laughing Falls the trail comes alongside the Yoho River as it crashes through this gorge. This water comes down from Yoho Glacier, hence the milky appearance.
A short waterfall along that section of the river.
More violent water in the gorge.
Relatively placid water above the level of the gorge. Note the blue coloration along one side, this is the non-glacial runoff joining the main river from Laughing Falls.
Here and there along the trail the Yoho Glacier is visible in the distance. The snow and ice are largely covered with a layer of dirt (or maybe soot?).
Just before reaching the Laughing Falls campground the trail passes over this bridge spanning the blue waters coming down to join the main river.
Laughing Falls
Video of Laughing Falls
Down by the river again, observing the mixing of the waters. Yoho Glacier is in the far distance.
Checking out Duchesnay Lake on our return trip.
Visiting Point Lace Falls on our return trip.
Video of Point Lace Falls
Angel Staricase Falls – the trail goes to this viewpoint which allows you to see the falls which are a fair distance away.
A bit of a closer look.
Eventually Takakkaw Falls comes into view as the trail returns to the parking area.

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