Field trips

Field trips | logistics & schedule | cost | clothing | safety | waiver | weather & cancellations | fossil protection

Aug 3, 7 & 8th 2009

A major highlight of this meeting will be an opportunity for conference delegates to visit the main Burgess Shale locality (Walcott Quarry), and sites on Mount Stephen, including the famous Trilobite (Ogygopsis) Beds.

Both are UNESCO protected World Heritage sites and lie within the boundaries of Yoho National Park. We have had to add an extra day of field trips to the Walcott Quarry on Saturday Aug 8th to accommodate a larger number of delegates than originally anticipated.

Click on map to enlarge


Please note the following important information about the field trips:

Walcott Quarry (Field Trip 1):
Starting Elevation: 1500 m;
Elevation gain: 780 m;
Distance: 20 km round trip in total.
Duration about 9-10 hours.
Hike of moderate difficulty - long, but not steep for the most part.

We will start the hike in the scenic Yoho Valley near Takkakaw Falls (the highest in Canada), a few km north of the town of Field. Stops of interest will include: Takkakaw Falls, Yoho Lake, the ROM field camp, Walcott’s Quarry, and Burgess Pass. The hike ends at the Yoho National
Park Visitor Centre in Field.

Mount Stephen (Field Trip 2):
Starting Elevation: 1300 m;
Elevation gain: 520 m.
Distance: 6 km round trip.
Duration about 8 hours.
Hike of moderate difficulty, short but steep.

Stops of interest will include: Lower and Upper Trilobite Beds. The hike begins and ends at the Yoho National Park Visitor Centre in Field.

Logistics and preliminary schedule:

The Walcott Quarry and the Mount Stephen Trilobite Beds are close to the village of Field, British Columbia. Travel from Banff to Field will take approximately one hour and will be by chartered coach only. The trail to the Trilobite Beds can be accessed directly from Field, whereas the hike to the Walcott Quarry will start from Takkakaw Falls, about a 25 minute drive from Field.

Field trips are planned for the following days. We cannot accept more than 50 delegates per site per day:

Quarrying the Burgess Shale

Monday August 3rd,
Walcott Quarry
Trilobite Beds

Friday August 7th,
Walcott Quarry
Trilobite Beds

Saturday August 8th,
Walcott Quarry

We are now able to relaease additonal spots for each of these hikes. Please contact the organizers for more information prior to the march 31st deadline.

IMPORTANT all pre-registered delegates must confirm the field trips they wish to attend on the registration form. The conference organizers will contact you to remind you of your choice of field trip(s).

Delegates registered for hikes will meet at the Banff Centre no later than 6.30 am on their selected day. Breakfast and lunch bags can be ordered from the Banff Centre in advance and will be made available to delegates prior to departure (OPTIONAL - see registration form). Return time to the Banff Centre will depend on your hike selection (Walcott Quarry or Trilobite Beds), the speed of your group, and weather conditions. Estimated return times are between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm for delegates registered for the Trilobite Beds hike, and between 8:00 pm and 9.00 pm for those registered for the Walcott Quarry hike.

All delegates for a particular hike (up to 50 people) will start on the trail at about the same time, but for logistical and security reasons, only 25 people and 2 guides will be allowed to visit the Walcott Quarry or the Trilobite Beds at one time. We expect that delegates will hike at different speeds. Two groups, a slow and a fast group of equal numbers will be created closer to the main sites to avoid overcrowding. If time permits, and with the possible exception of the slowest groups for both hikes, most delegates will be able to visit the new Burgess Shale display at the Field Information Centre, and/or Emerald Lake after the hikes. There is a nice vista of the Walcott Quarry (especially in the evening) from across Emerald Lake, and delegates will be able to see the UNESCO World Heritage Plaque and a small outdoor display on the Burgess Shale.


Each field trip package costs $60 per delegate and includes:

  • Return transportation from the Banff Centre to Field by chartered coach
  • Visit to Emerald Lake (if time permits)
  • Visit to new Burgess Shale exhibit at the Yoho National Park Visitor Centre in Field (if time permits)
  • Field guidebook (one guidebook per delegate - covers both trips)
  • Extra water bottles and some light snacks. We highly recommend bringing at least 2 liters of water as well as high carbohydrate snacks (chocolate bars, power bars, raisins etc…).

Meals are not included, unless you pre-ordered then from the Banff Centre at the time of registration.

Clothing and other items:
Participants should bring clothes suitable for dry or rainy weather and cold or warm temperatures (seeweather advisories below).

Good hiking boots (running shoes not recommended), a hat, rain gear (poncho, rain suit or water-proof jacket), light weight, loose fitting long sleeved shirt and long pants (to protect against the sun and mosquitoes), and a light windbreaker or sweatshirt fleece are essential. Carrying some extra dry clothing is recommended.  Mosquitoes are not common in this part of the Canadian Rockies but you might want to bring some mosquito repellent.  Sunscreen and sunglasses with UV protection are also recommended.

Safety is paramount. We want to minimize the potential for accidents wherever possible, and your awareness of the following safety concerns is important for your personal well-being, and for that of other field trip members. For safety reasons, the field trips will be monitored by Parks Canada staff and we will be in radio communication with the outside world at all times. An emergency first aid kit will also be carried on each field trip.

Nature of Hazard Location of Hazard Mitigation
Possible cold rain/wet snow All outcrops Bring appropriate wet-weather gear, hat, extra layers, etc... 
Sprains or other ankle injuries All outcrops Wear high-topped and sturdy hiking boots
Rough, steep trail to outcrop with loose rocks Upper part of trails.
All outcrops
Avoid loosening stones on trail, warn those below
Heat related problems All outcrops Drink water with electrolytes, wear hat, use sunscreen
Wildlife encounter All outcrops. Encounters are unlikely due to group size Make loud noises, avoid areas with berries

Waiver, health related issues and travel and medical insurance:

All delegates registered for field trips must complete and sign a waiver prior to participation.
Downdload waiver here.

HEALTH: These hikes can definitely be arduous for the untrained or ill-prepared. Because of potential mild altitude sickness, it is preferable to arrive in Banff a day or two in advance to acclimatize to the mountain environment. Each hike will be a full day long. 

INSURANCE: Please be sure that you have adequate Health/Accident/Emergency insurance for your time in the field. The organizers will not be responsible for your health coverage, highway ambulance service, hospital stays or any costs related to accident-emergency situations prior to, during, or after your stay in Canada for this meeting and field trips.

All delegates registered for field trips must complete and sign a waiver prior to participation. This form must be completed and signed and presented in person before each field trip to the field trip leader (to be assigned at a latter date).

Even in August, weather in the Rockies can be variable

Access to the sites is weather dependent.

Please be advised that unpredictable weather conditions might result in last minute cancellations of some field trips.

July and August are the hottest months of the year in Alberta-B.C. Daytime temperatures can reach 40°C or higher and dip below 10°C at night.

Snow and violent thunderstorms are also common during this time of the year in the Canadian Rockies. Southern Alberta and Southern BC will probably be under Severe Fire Hazard conditions so do not use any open flames and refrain from smoking at all times.

NOTE: these conditions may limit or CANCEL our field trips. Organizers are not responsible if hikes have to be cancelled because of poor weather conditions or for any other reasons beyond their control.

Absolutely no collecting of fossils will be permitted on the field trips – hammers are not allowed.  It is unlawful to deface, remove, possess, or sell Burgess Shale fossils.