“Since 1971 the most trusted source of Canadian Rockies hiking information”

Canadian Rockies Trail Guide

Classic hiking guidebooks by Don Beers

Don Beers began his hiking career in the early 1950s under the tutelage of Leonard Leacock, the well-known music composer and instructor at Mount Royal College, who may well lay claim to being the earliest recreational hiker in the Canadian Rockies. Many of Don’s later trips were with wife Keitha (who often served as a colourful foreground for his photos) and long-time friend Lance Camp.

When Bart Robinson and I were setting out to create the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide in 1970, Don Beers was already entering his third decade as a hiker and climber in the mountain parks. I’m guessing he might have published the first trail guide to the parks had he not been devoted to raising a family and his teaching career.

The Magic of Lake O'Hara, Don Beers

The Magic of Lake O’Hara, 1981, Don Beers

But Don did finally publish his first trail guide with Rocky Mountain Books in 1981, The Magic of Lake O’Hara. It was a small 96-page paperback describing the hikes, history, flora and fauna of that popular hiking area, and the first trail guide in the Canadian Rockies illustrated with colour photographs.

Don really hit his stride as an author in 1989 with The Wonder of Yoho, a larger format book that was published in hardcover and lavishly illustrated with his exceptional colour photographs. This book also revealed his love of history, and it devoted an extra 20 pages to the exploration, development and place names of Yoho National Park.

The Wonder of Yoho would be the first in a series of larger format guides, and all subsequent editions would be self-published both in hardcover and paperback through Highline Publishing: The World of Lake Louise (1991), Banff-Assiniboine: A Beautiful World (1993) and Jasper-Robson: A Taste of Heaven (1996).

By concentrating on specific parks, these editions provide dozens of hiking options beyond the well-marked trails, stuff found nowhere else and unknown to anyone except Don and his readers. And if you check out the acknowledgements page, you soon realize there’s hardly anyone of note he hasn’t known or interviewed.

But the photographic coverage and its quality is what I find absolutely stunning. (Is there anywhere in these parks that Don hasn’t been?) And when you consider there is scarcely a photo made under adverse weather conditions, that means he stayed in these locations until the weather cleared or was there on numerous occasions.  Nowhere else, in books or on the internet, will you find anything that approaches his comprehensive coverage.

And though the books boast well over 100 excellent colour images each (nearly 200 in Jasper-Robson alone), they contain an equal number of black & white photos, including some very rare historical images.

Pardon me if I rave on. Quite simply, we will never see books on the mountain parks like these again. Never! Unfortunately, today’s book industry doesn’t even consider labours of love like these nor does it invest in quality colour reproduction on this scale (Manitoba’s Friesen Printers should be proud of the work it did on these books).


Finding Don Beers’ books today

Don’s books are no longer in print. However, you may find copies online at Abe Books. Whether you’re a hiker or not, if you don’t have copies of Don Beers books in your library, you can’t be serious about your love of the Canadian Rockies.


  1. Mariya Glubrecht

    I am very fortunate to have Don Beers as my grandfather. I have grown up with him as my hiking guide, and I can attest to his expansive knowledge of the trails, their history, wildlife, and plant life; he is the very best companion to have on a trail. I absolutely treasure his hiking guides. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  2. Keitha Glubrecht

    Don Beers is absolutely my favorite author, photographer, and guide! His books tell the tales behind the trails. The histories of the pioneers in the Canadian Rockies preserve the accounts of the past, and his trail guides allow hikers to discover the splendor of the present. I certainly agree with my daughter’s post. Thank you, Brian, for your thorough and glowing review. I’m sure my father inspired you and many other photographers and authors to explore the beautiful trails in our Canadian Rockies. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place in the world and have access to God’s glorious creation!

  3. Wolfe Harth

    I have been on a few hikes with Don Beers and many more with Leonard Leacock who was my music teacher. Could you make it possible for me to connect up with Don, to compare notes? I used to live in Calgary and live now in Northern Ireland.

  4. Brandon

    I could not agree more. Don’s books are outstanding. They have a certain quality about them that is hard to describe. I highly recommend ‘The Wonder of Yoho’. They can also be found used on Amazon

  5. Doug Jensen

    I have recently discovered his wonderful books as my brother and I are continuolusly exploring the depths of Jasper’s backcountry with Don’s, Bart’s and Brian’s assistance. Thank you all! However, I have often wondered where Mr Beers currently lives and what he is up to. I would love to personally thank him for his “labour of love” as I have spent many evenings pouring over his trail descriptions and amazing historical stories.

  6. Annemare

    I am trying to locate one of these books for a friend’s daughter who is getting married soon – she and her husband love to hike. I have a copy of the Yoho book for myself which I’ve had for decades and enjoy. Don used to be one of my high school teachers and he shared some of his beautiful photos to go in our yearbooks. Any idea where I can find a new edition of one of his books?

    • Andrew Hempstead

      The best place to look for a copy is abebooks.com. Email us at info@summerthought.com with the name of his book you are looking for and we may be able to help also. Andrew

    • John martin

      I aswell had the opportunity to hike/scramble the rockies with Don beers fall off 1997& his friend Lance camp witch was a mid gr.school teacher of sir Fredrick Banting; I attended to for 3 years. Have photos of them! That i still display and dons book signed* the world of lake Louise. Thank you don for the love of hiking and the mountains I still continue to hike and climb at age 44. Rest in peace Mr.camp many hikes of 4/half yrs. You were a great positive teacher&friend. Kicking horse will remain my base camp.

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