Tocher Ridge (pronounced ‘talker’) is a remote location in Yoho National Park. In 1941, the ridge was first identified as a wonderful location overlooking the Amiskwi Pass and Kicking Horse River to Amiskwi Pass. A lookout was finally built in the mid-1960s and was in service for only a few years before abandonment.
It requires an epic undertaking to reach this fire lookout. A day-trip visit up and down is an absolute heroic achievement.
The trailhead is located at the same parking lot as the popular tourist destination “Natural Bridge”. A multi-day trip brings complications. It is not allowed to ‘random-camp’ in Yoho National Park and overnight parking is limited. Two potential options could be the town of Field or Emerald Lake Lodge.
Most start the journey on bicycle, as there is an old road for the first part of the journey along the Kicking Horse River. The old road follows the river for a few kilometres before turning north along the Otterhead river. From here on the nicer portion of the old road is over and a rough doubletrack exists. Some years the trail is cleared and others it can be a bushwhacking nightmare. Overall, it is still worth it to purse the first 13km by bike.
After the 13km there is a sign indicating the direction to Tocher Ridge. This is a good place to stash the bikes as the path becomes steep. The trail quickly turns into single-track and there is normally a lot of fallen trees and bushwhacking to slow the journey.
The hike up to the ridge is a soul-sucking 5km slog, offering many impediments and few views to satisfy the adventurer. This is quickly forgotten after reaching the ridge. All of a sudden, incomprehensible views overwhelm the senses that have been numbed from the arduous approach.
At the top:
The lookout itself is in excellent condition and is a special location for the very few that reach the location. There are many relics and artifacts from the fire lookout days leftover in the tower, along with some emergency supplies. With time to spare, a ridgewalk of a couple kilometres stretches to the north.