Mount Stephen Fossil Beds


The Mount Stephen trilobite beds were discovered in 1886, after railway workers reported finding ‘stone bugs’ in the area. Learn about the life habits of trilobites and current research on why they occur here in such abundance. This is a great hike for inquisitive children, who love to examine the relatively large, easily recognized fossils.

Please note: The Stephen hike is classified as a DIFFICULT hike despite it being the shortest hike. The elevation is as much as the Burgess Shale hike however over much less distance.

Fossil hunt activity: this guided hike also includes an opportunity for everyone to split some 500 million year old Cambrian rock slabs to find a trilobite that you can take home. Your guide will introduce you to the world of trilobites, where they lived, when all the trilobites in the world became extinct, and how these half a billion year trilobites were fossilized.

Check out the Burgess Shale's replica of the world's largest trilobite measuring approximately 100 cm long by 51 cm wide.

Download the guided hikes brochure and check out the Burgess Shale virtual tour.

Elevation gain
Return time
780 m (2,560 ft)
6 km (3.6 mi) round trip
Difficult — short but steep (8 hours)
5 PM MDT (approximately)

Schedule & Cost

Every Saturday and Sunday starting Saturday July 5th, 2014
Every Saturday and Sunday ending Saturday August 30th, 2014

Departs at 8:30AM from the Yoho Trading Post gas station located at the intersection of the entrance to Field and the Trans-Canada Highway and opposite the Parks Canada Information Centre (the building with the Blue roof). Adequate parking is provided.

Child (under 12)
*Student rate is for students registered with a school, college or university field trip. Prices include HST.

No Refunds will be made except for medical reasons, with a signed doctor's note and approved by the executive director.

Are You Ready?

Everyone who participates in any of the guided hikes MUST complete and sign a waiver form and hand it to their guide on the morning of the hike! Please read our Reservation and Refund policy before you book.

The Field town-site is at an elevation of 1,280 meters (4,200 feet), and you will be climbing over 760 meters (2,500 feet) to visit either the Walcott Quarry or the Mt. Stephen Fossil Beds. At these elevations there is considerably less oxygen than at sea level, and the fatigue of climbing and descending will be exaggerated if you are used to training at lower elevations. Although our guides stop for lecture breaks along the way, you will not enjoy the trip unless you are fit and acclimatized to the altitude.

The trails are well maintained by Parks Canada. Nevertheless, they are steep and may become slippery in wet weather. Parts of the trails may be snow-covered early in the season. Climbing and descending are equally hard on knees and ankles. Remember, after climbing up 760 meters (2,500 feet), you must also descend 760 metres (2,500 feet)! In the event of injury, there is no “easy way out." You should not undertake these hikes if you have any respiratory, circulatory or joint problems. If unsure, check with your physician. Please! Carefully read the advice and reservation and refund policy.

If You Go

The starting point for the Stephen Fossil Beds and Walcott Quarry hikes is the Yoho Trading Post gas station (the intersection of Field and the Trans Canada Highway) at the start time shown. The starting point for the Climate Change hike is Takakkaw Falls. Be on time! Field is in the Mountain Time Zone, the same as Alberta and Banff and Jasper National Parks. In summer, it is Mountain Daylight Time (MDT). We are not in the Pacific Time Zone. Visitors frequently make this mistake.

For the Walcott Quarry hike, the group meets, then drives a short distance to the Takakkaw Falls trailhead. If you have a car, bring it to the meeting place.

Bring your own lunch and additional snacks for the trail. Bring lots of water, because exertion combined with altitude will make you thirsty throughout the day (we suggest two litres of water per person).

Your choice of footwear is critical. You should wear waterproof hiking boots that give good ankle support. Boots should be well broken-in. Running shoes, even those advertised as suitable for trail use, are not advisable.

You will be out on the hikes for six to ten hours. A lot of weather can pass through Yoho National Park in that time. Any weather forecast you check is generalized for the Park, and cannot be relied upon for the hike area. It can be hot and sunny in Field while at the same time it is windy and snowing at your destination. There is no natural protection from the weather at the fossil sites.

Trail conditions courtesy Parks Canada

Weather Forecast courtesy Environment Canada

You must bring a day pack with extra clothing. Suggested are: windproof/waterproof jacket with hood; long pants; gloves; extra socks; a sweater; moleskin (to treat blisters); a hat; and sunglasses. Even an umbrella can be useful on wet days with no wind. Early in the season, or anytime it is snowing, gaiters are required to keep snow out of your boots. A hiking stick or ski pole can be helpful on the steeper parts of the trail.

Protection and Security of Fossils

No collecting of fossils is allowed. No disturbing or damaging of any natural object is allowed. These fossil sites are located in CLOSED and RESTRICTED areas within The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site and are protected by the National Parks Act. All of these areas are protected by sensor and camera monitoring devices. All of the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation guides carry radios and they will immediately contact the local Park Warden Dispatch to report any illegal activities. Take only pictures and leave only footprints.

Mount Stephen Panorama
Kids splitting rock looking for half a billion year old Trilobites 005
Kids splitting rock looking for half a billion year old Trilobites 004
Kids splitting rock looking for half a billion year old Trilobites 003
Kids splitting rock looking for half a billion year old Trilobites 002
Kids splitting rock looking for half a billion year old Trilobites 001