Canada Pictures (71 pictures)
I spent a month in the Canadian Rockies in the summer of 2006. If you are going to spend time in the Canadian Rockies hiking, I highly recommend getting the book The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson. It includes pictures, excellent writeups, trail maps, distances, and elevations (though only the total distance and elevation includes miles and feet so I did have to do a little bit of metric conversion for partial hikes). Fee: Also purchase a year National Park Pass if you are going to be in Banff, Jasper, and/or Waterton for more than a few days (can be purchased at the entrance station for $62.40 Canadian (2007 price) per person). Day use fee for Banff and Jasper is $8.65 Canadian (2007) per person. Day use fee for Waterton is $6.90 Canadian (2007) per person. Lodging in Banff and Jasper is expensive, but campgrounds are cheap and you don't need reservations if you arrive early enough in the day. I started my trip from the north and headed down, which is the order I'm listing the hikes. See http://www.pc.gc.ca/ for the official park web pages and more information. [The first 2 hikes (Joffre Lakes and Garibaldi Lake) are from Western Canada, in the Whistler area. The rest are Canadian Rockies hikes.] Garibaldi Lake Directions: Hwy 99 to Garibaldi Provincial Park - between Alice Lake Provincial Park and the tourist town of Whistler. Watch for a the sign for Garibaldi Lake and take the road to the right a short ways to the parking area. Chemical toilets at parking area. $3 parking fee. Trails: Are you ready for a tail-kicker? This trail goes up, up, up, up. The wide (2-person width) trail heads through the trees and is a steep up to start and then a steady up and then switchbacks forever (took me over 1.5 hours of switchbacking). There are markers every kilometer and the switchbacking finally ends at the 6 km marker (it's 9 km to the upper lake). Go straight at the trail junction and a short ways ahead, take a short sidetrip to the right to a rock outcrop for a great distance view to the west of the mountain range. Back on the trail, Barrier Lake is a short ways ahead. It is a tree surrounded lake with a startling glacial blue color. The trail is mild around the lake and mild around the near by Lesser Garibaldi Lake, also a tree surrounded lake and the same blue color. After crossing the small bridge while heading around the lake, the trail starts heading up again, but it is a mild up, and goes at a mild up almost all the way to Garibaldi Lake. As you approach the lake, you get glimpses of it from above and realize it was worth all that effort to reach the lake. The trail drops down to lakeside and makes its way around to the west shore of the lake (and campground area), ending at a small dock. Find a nice resting spot (water way too cold to feet soak) and enjoy the many wonderful views of the lake and numerous glacial covered granite peaks. There are a couple of tiny islands that you can rock-hop over to. Trail Length + Elevation: 5.6 miles, 2625 feet one-way Area: Big mountains, 2 small mountain lakes, 1 huge mountain lake, glaciers, waterfalls Pictures When I did the hike: Thursday, August 16, 2007 Recommendation: A heck of a lot of work, but the reward is magnificent.
Joffre Lakes Directions: Hwy 99 for about 60 miles (mountain driving) north of Whistler. Keep an eye out for the unsigned turn in on the right for the parking area (or the stunning view just past the turn if you miss it). Chemical toilet at parking lot. Free. Trails: So as I was driving up Hwy 99 to start my long drive to the Canadian Rockies, I glanced to the right and saw this beautiful area - massive granite peaks filled with glaciers - so I did a u-turn and pulled into the parking area to see what it was and if there were any trails in the area. Sure enough, there was a trail and a non-hiking day turned into a big hiking day. The trail starts as a short gravel down to Lower Joffre Lake. It is a tree surrounded lake, but still pretty as you can see the many peaks behind it. The trail continues around the lake to the right and soon the gravel goes away - as does the easiness of the hike - nothing is mild after this. The trail is very rocky and rooty and at times very steep where you have to use your hands on trees for balance as you make your way up very rocky and rooty spots. There is a long section that is a mild up, but the trail goes through a rock field so it is very slow going. You won't make fast time either going up or coming down on this hike). Middle Joffre Lake is pretty, but the Upper Lake (less than a mile ahead) is your destination and the best area of the 3 lakes. It is a wonderful sight of the good-sized lake, a grand waterfall feeding the lake, the massive Matter Glacier (as well as 2 other glaciers), and 7 mountain peaks. The trail does continue around the lake to where there is a campground area at the other end of the lake, but you don't need to go that far as the best views are shortly after arriving at the lake (and the side canyon to the right that you see ahead isn't a scenic view). The only bad thing is there really isn't any good lakeside resting spots where you have grand views (I did make my way off the trail near the bottom of the lake for a not-too-bad spot). There are small orange diamonds on the trees and rocks to mark the trail. Trail Length + Elevation: .3 mile to Lower Joffre Lake 3.4 miles, 1312 feet one-way Upper Joffre Lake Area: Mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, mountain lakes. Pictures When I did the hike: Friday, August 17, 2007 Recommendation: If you are in the Whistler area and up for a hard hike on a rougher trail, Joffre Lakes is definitely a wonderful place.
Kinney Lake - Mt. Robson Provincial Park Directions: Hwy 16 to Mt. Robson Visitor Center (stop there first and there is a good view of Mt. Robson across the meadow - Mt. Robson is the Canadian Rockies highest peak) and head north along the road next to the visitor center to the Berg Lake parking lot. Outhouses at parking lot and lake (flush toilets at the visitors center). Free. Trails: The there-and-back trail to Kinney Lake continues further for multi-day hikes - unfortunately the distances to Berg Lake (which is supposed to be really pretty) is just too far (12.6 miles one-way) for a day-hike. The wide gravel and dirt trail is an old road (not too wide, though) and bikes are also allowed along the section to Kinney Lake (but not further). It's a mild hike that goes through the trees along the pretty Robson River. Unfortunately there aren't too many views of the impressive Mt Robson along the way. But there are good views of Mt Robson at the head of the good sized lake. I didn't travel around the lake as the trail stays to the east side of the lake and the views to the west weren't that impressive (Mt Robson is on the east side). There are no hard climbs along the way, just mild elevation gains. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.8 miles, 425 feet one-way Picture Area: Trees, river, lower mountain lake, big mountain When I did the hike: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 Recommendation: One of the prettier day hikes in the northern area. Good for a family outing. A little bit out of the way, though.
Maligne Lake Shore Trail - Jasper National Park Directions: Hwy 16 to Maligne Lake Road, take road all the way to the end. At the end, go right and park in the farthest parking lot. Flush toilets at the parking lot. Free (fee area is along Hwy 93) Trails: Head towards the lake on one of the access trails and connect with the shore trail (sometimes is a little bit inland). Turn around when you feel like it. Trail Length + Elevation: About 1.5 miles, level Area: Trees, large lake When I did the hike: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 Recommendation: I was so underwelmed with the entire area that I tossed out a planned long hike in the valley and went with my alternate plan (Kinney Lake).
Path of the Glacier - Jasper National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to Hwy 93A (a few miles south of the Hwy 93 and Hwy 16 junction) and head west (and then south) on 93A for about 3.5 miles to Cavell Road. Head up the narrow (but paved) windy road to the gravel parking lot at the end. Vault toilets at the parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Trails: I'm listing this and the next hike (Cavell Meadows) separate as everyone should do this hike and only the hardier hikers will try for Cavell Meadows. The paved trail starts heading up and to the left of the old viewpoint (with the bench) and the pavement soon ends and it's a rocky trail the rest of the way. At the junction, head straight for the loop trail (or take a left for the Meadows trail). Soon you will have wonderful views of Mt. Edith Cavell and her 3 glaciers and the majestic glacial lake at her base, including icebergs in the lake. The trail drops to the lake and after not too much effort you're at the gem of the park. You can find some solitude by heading to the left for a ways and find a nice rock to sit on and enjoy the views. Explore the area to your heart's content (but be careful if you chose to go near the waterfall area). The trail heads out a little to the right from where the loop came out to the lake and it's a mild walk back to the parking lot through an area that was once glacier covered. Note that on the drive up, you can stop across from the Hostel and take a short walk down to the small, pretty Cavell Lake. Trail Length + Elevation: 1 mile loop, little bit of up and down (though on secondary visits, you can skip the top part of the loop to make a shorter, easier trip to the glacial lake) Picture Area: Glaciers, splendid glacial lake, granite mountains When I did the hike: Sunday, August 20, 2006 (and Monday and Tuesday); Sunday, July 6, 2008 (and Monday) Recommendation: Absolutely. A must if you are in the area. After my first visit, I went back each of the next 2 evenings I was in the area and had dinner at the glacial lake. My favorite spot of my entire Canadian visit.
Cavell Meadows - Jasper National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to Hwy 93A (a few miles south of the Hwy 93 and Hwy 16 junction) and head west (and then south) on 93A for about 3.5 miles to Cavell Road. Head up the narrow (but paved) windy road to the gravel parking lot at the end. Chemical toilets at the parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Trails: Head up and left from the parking lot and go on the Path of the Glacier trail. At the junction, take a hard left and continue heading up on the rocky trail. The trail will turn and head behind the moraine (rock pile). At the hard turn where the trail heads into the trees, first take a right (carefully) up the moraine for the best view down on the Cavell glacial lake. The trail switchbacks a couple of times through the trees and then you hit another trail junction. Head right and stop at the first view point. If you got that far, continue up to the 2nd view point (it's the best of the 3), not too much farther ahead. Catch your breath and enjoy the best view of Angel Glacier and Mt. Edith Cavell (only a little bit of the lake visible, though). Then it's decision time: are you ready for a tail-kicker of a hike or are you ready to go down and visit the lake? If you are ready to go down, return the way you came. Else, the trail narrows and heads steeply up through the meadows (no flowers when I was there) and up and up. Continue heading up from the 2 junctions. After the second junction, the trail heads up through a scree slope and then at the switchback it's an even steeper up to the view point with the cairn stack. I found the views at the 2nd view point more impressive, but you do get 360 degree views at this spot. The spot also held a bonus for me when the couple that was there the same time I was pointed out a caribou walking along the top of the ridge above us. Head back down and take a right at the first junction - the trail is a loop at the top of the trees through the meadow area. Trail Length + Elevation: 3.8 miles loop, 1300 feet Picture Area: Glaciers, splendid glacial lake, granite mountains, section of trees, lots of open views When I did the hike: Sunday, August 20, 2006 Recommendation: A harder hike, but the views are majestic. Definitely go to the best view point of the Cavell glacial lake.
Lower Geraldine Lake - Jasper National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to 93A (heading south) to the Geraldine Fire Road. The rough, narrow, dirt road heads up for an unpleasant 3.5 miles to a small parking area at the trailhead. No facilities. Fee - see fee for details Trails: After a busy day of hiking, I thought I'd try the Geraldine Lakes hike. I should have saved it for later as I didn't have time to go to the 2nd lake and the road to the trailhead was bad enough that I wasn't about to make a return visit. The narrow, rooty trail heads up (some mild, some harder) through the trees. After a little over a mile, the trail reaches the edge of Lower Geraldine Lake, a peaceful tree surrounded lake with some peak views in the distance. The hike to the Second Geraldine Lake is described as a hard, rocky hike that goes up steeply next to 2 waterfalls. Trail Length + Elevation: 1.1 mile to Lower Geraldine Lake 3.1 miles, 1340 feet trailhead to Second Geraldine Lake (one-way) Area: Trees, mountains, lakes Picture When I did the hike: Monday, August 21, 2006 Recommendation: Na. The rough road just to get to the trailhead alone makes this a hike to skip. If it wasn't for the road, I might have made a return visit to go to the 2nd lake.
Columbia Icefields - Jasper National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to the Columbia Icefields (just north of the Banff park boarder). Head east a short bit on the road on the other side of 93 from the visitors center and the take right down to the parking area for the glacier. Fee - see fee for details Trails: My plan of simply driving through Banff and Jasper to start my trip at the north spot and head south got tossed aside when I stopped at the Columbia Icefields for a bathroom break. After looking at the Athabasca Glacier across the way, I couldn't help myself but drive over there and take the walk up to the glacier. It's a wide dirt trail (road width) with lots and lots of people. It does go up, but anyone can do it. The trail ends at the glacier - you can touch it and you can even walk on it as they have roped of section on the glacier that they believe is safe. Since walking on a glacier near its edge where it's melting doesn't seem like the smartest thing to me, I simply found a spot to the left with fewer people and sat with a view under the glacier of melting ice and the sound of running water. Trail Length + Elevation: About a mile, a bit of up Picture Area: Mountains, massive glacier When I did the hike: Sunday, August 20, 2006 Recommendation: Nothing really exciting, but something you have to do if you are there.
Wilcox Pass - Jasper National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to the Columbia Icefields. About 2 miles south of the Icefields center, look for the Wilcox Creek Campground turnoff on the east side of the road and park along that road (along with all the other cars). Outhouse at parking area. Fee - see fee for details Trails: The narrow trail heads up through the trees. After a good bit, the trail does get above the tree line and is open meadows the rest of the way. There are some good views across the valley of Athabasca Glacier, but the view is diminished by the many tourist vehicles visible on the glacier and the road noise from Hwy 93. The trail continues heading a slight up, but soon goes behind a ridge and the great glacier views go away. Turn around when you feel like it. I read 3 trail reports raving about this hike, but I found it pretty blah - maybe the problem was that I had just done Parker Ridge with its magnificent view. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.5 miles, 1100 feet to pass (one-way) Area: Trees, mountains, glaciers Picture When I did the hike: Monday, August 21, 2006 Recommendation: Na. Some nice views, but the road noise diminishes the affect and Parker Ridge is close by and more worthy of your effort.
Parker Ridge - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to just south of the Banff-Jasper park boarder (about 2.5 miles south of the boarder) to the large parking area on the west side of the road (it's on the inside of a large curve on the road). Vault toilet at the parking lot Fee - see fee for details Trails: This is one of those tail-kicker hikes where it is ugly, ugly, ugly but with a magnificent destination. The trail simply switchbacks up and up and up, first through trees and then above the tree line. The views along the way are blah and there are plenty of wooden barriers and "Stay on trail" signs along the way. Once you reach the ridge point, it looks like the trail should go to the right, but the correct way is straight ahead and then to the left. The road noise is finally gone and soon you'll see the reward for all the effort. Go as far to the left as you can (the trail peters out) and find a spot to sit and enjoy the view for a while. Before you is the huge Saskatchewan Glacier and its valley and glacial lake. Back at the ridge point (a saddleback), I went ahead and took that right (now left) and went up the ridge for what seemed like should be a good view area of the granite mountain to the north - alas there is no good view as there is always a ridge blocking the view and the best view is actually from the road (so skip going up there). Trail Length + Elevation: 1.7 miles, 2250 feet one-way Area: Mountains, glacier and isolated valley views Picture When I did the hike: Monday, August 21, 2006; Sunday, July 5, 2008 Recommendation: Absolutely. 1 of 3 places in Banff-Jasper I'd say are must visits (Mt Edith Cavell [Path of the Glaciers] and Moraine Lake area).
Saskatchewan Glacier Trail - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to Banff North - just before the sharp curve in the highway right before it starts its climb (Big Bend), there is a short dirt road on the south side of the road that ends at a barrier before an old bridge - park in front of the bridge (room for about 3 cars). No facilities. Fee - see fee for details Trails: After seeing the Saskatchewan Glacier from Parker Ridge, I got excited when I saw that there was a trail that went up the glacier valley. Unfortunately it is an unmaintained and seldom used trail, so I didn't get as far up the valley as I would have liked. [I'd love for the park to expand this trail and create a true parking area at the bend of the road; the hard part of the trail is already there and it would make an excellent family trail as the elevation gain isn't much.] During World War II, a road was built to the glacier so that vehicles could be tested for the construction of the Alaska Highway. The remains of that dirt road make up part of this trail. Right after crossing the bridge, take a right and either go up the trail through the woods (some ups and downs) or drop down to river-side and walk along the river (and then turn left when the way left opens up and head straight to hook up with the road) - after rounding the hill, the trail intersects with the old road (really 2 trails now as the middle of the road has small trees and bushes) and then head right. After going through the plain, the trail reaches the trees and a small hill and heads left up the hill and over the ridge into the glacier valley. There is a pretty view point of the valley shortly after going over the ridge (but no glacier views). Unfortunately parts of the old road have been washed out and you have to bush-whack along a narrow trail (pushing branches aside as you go) above the river bank (you can walk alongside the river for a bit, but eventually you have to go up to the narrow trail). Progress was slow along that portion of the trail and I only got to the first bend in the river before I gave up and headed back (no glacier view). Trail Length: 3.7 miles (or less) Picture Area: Mountain valley, trails, river When I did the hike: Thursday, August 24, 2006 Recommendation: No, unless the park works on this trail.
Glacier Lake - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to just north of Saskatchewan Crossing, the parking area is on the west side of the road a short ways from the highway. No facilities. Fee - see fee for details Trails: My first attempt to visit this lake got rained out as it started raining about a mile in (and then started hailing shortly before I reached the car - thank goodness I was smart and turned around). So the next day I went back and hiked to the lake. It's a wide trail to start and descends gently for about 20 minutes to the river and then you cross the river on a bridge. The trail then narrows and it's a short but steep up. Soon you reach a pretty view point of the large Howse River Valley - the lake is actually not in that valley but over the small tree lined mountains ahead and to the right. This an down-and-up-and-down-and-up-and-down hike (and then back). The trail drops down a bit and then is fairly level heading along the valley floor. The trail then heads away from the valley to the right. When the trail goes next to the stream, the climbing starts again and the trail crosses over the creek a couple of times. After the last crossing (to the left), the trail goes steeply up the ridge, then mild for a bit, and then another good up another ridge. The trail is then mild for a little bit and then starts the long (sometimes steep) down to the lake. You are almost there when you see a white sign pointing the way back. At the lake, take a left to the campground for some good resting spots next to the large, forest enclosed lake. The lake isn't anything exciting, not worthy of the name Glacier Lake. Trail Length + Elevation: 11 miles, 1450 feet round trip Area: Trees, mountains, valley, lower mountain lake. Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, August 24, 2006 Recommendation: A lot of work for not that spectacular reward.
Chephen Lake - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to Waterfowl Lakes Campground (about 12 miles south of Saskatchewan Crossing), on the west side of the road. Take a left after turning into the campground and take the road to the end for the day-parking area (or stay at the campground). Walk to the riverside and you should see a trail heading right and a bridge a short ways ahead - the bridge is the trailhead. Fee - see fee for details Trails: After crossing the bridge, the trail is a mild up for about 15 minutes to a T-junction. Take a right (to the left is the way to Cirque Lake) and the trail is really fairly level the rest of the way, with just a slight down near the lake. It's a dirt trail and sometimes fairly rooty (and muddy for my hike as it had rained the entire day up to an hour before I did this hike). For such a short and easy hike, the destination is pretty special - a blue-green nice sized lake (not large, not small) with in a bowl with granite peaks above. There were 3 ducks in the water near the edge and I had a pleasant dinner lakeside and nice end to what had been a rained-out day. It only took about an hour to get to the lake. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.2 miles, 344 feet one-way Area: Trees, mountain, mountain lake in a bowl Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 Recommendation: An easy hike with a pretty destination, good for a family outing.
Cirque Lake - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to Waterfowl Lakes Campground (about 12 miles south of Saskatchewan Crossing), on the west side of the road. Take a left after turning into the campground and take the road to the end for the day-parking area (or stay at the campground). Walk to the riverside and you should see a trail heading right and a bridge a short ways ahead - the bridge is the trailhead. Fee - see fee for details Trails: After crossing the bridge, the trail is a mild up for about 15 minutes to a T-junction. Take a left (to the right is the way to Chephen Lake). The rooty trail first heads down from the junction goes gradually up until it starts going next to the creek. Then there are some steep ups for a ways as the trail stays near the creek all the way to the lake. Once the trail finally calms down some, you are almost there but still have a little bit further to go. When you see the lake, continue on the trail until you are lakeside (there is a grassy area at the foot of the lake - go past that). There is a boulder field on the right side of the lake and you should be able to find a nice resting spot there. It's a pretty shale-blue lake, on the smaller size, with granite peaks at the far side of the lake. This and Chephen Lake can be combined as a single hike (they share the first .5 miles up) - 8 miles total. If you do both, go to Cirque Lake first as that takes more energy and is better with fresh legs. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.6 miles, ?? feet one-way Area: Trees, mountain, mountain lake in a bowl Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, August 24, 2006 Recommendation: A harder hike than Chephen Lake, but worth a visit if you have time for both (if you only have time to visit one, then visit Chephen).
Bow Glacier Falls - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to Bow Lake, At the north end of the lake, turn in to the parking area for Num-Ti-Jah Lodge and park in the day-use area. To get to the trailhead, walk through the parking lots (day and lodge) to the foot-bridge. Flush toilets at the parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Trails: The trail starts heading along Bow Lake's north end - there are some spectacular views of the lake along the way. The trail is flat and wide (2-person width) around the lake. Once you hit the river inlet, the trail follows the river, with one small up and down along the way. At the slot canyon, first take a side trip to the foot of the canyon for a pretty view into the water canyon (and nice spot to rest for a bit). Then it's the hard part of the hike - it's a very steep up the ridge with some (but not enough) wooden steps. After you are done with the climb, there is a great viewpoint of the falls and into the left valley. The trail goes down to the moraines and then it's a rocky mild up the rest of the way - follow the rock cairns where you can, else just head towards the falls. Find what ever viewpoint you like and sit for a bit and enjoy the impressive falls. There are no views along the way of the glacier that sits above the falls. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.9 miles, 310 feet one-way Area: Massive lake, mountains, impressive waterfall Pictures When I did the hike: Friday, August 25, 2006 Recommendation: Very pretty falls. The views along Bow Lake during the first section of the trail are outstanding - even if you don't have time to go to the falls, do a little bit of the lakeside walk.
Payton Glacier Overlook (Banff National Park) Directions: Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) north to the Payton Glacier overlook turnover on the left (about 1/2 mile past the north end of Bow Lake). Note: though the path is (cracked) paved, it is too steep for wheelchairs, but those with handicap parking passes can continue up the road further for a shorter access to the viewpoint. Vault toilets. Fee - see fee for details Trails: The paved path starts at the northwest corner of the parking lot and heads up to the overlook, with some nature signs along the way. From the overlook is a pretty look down on the large distinctive blue Payton Lake. To the left is a not so good look at the Payton Glacier (you have to turn your head and don't get the lake and glacier in one view). Trail Length + Elevation: less than .5 miles, 200 feet one-way Area: Canadian Rocky Mountains, large lake, glacier. When I did the hike: Sunday, July 6, 2008 Recommendation: Worth a short stop.
Helen Lake and Ridge - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to Bow Lake. At the south end of the lake, there is a turnoff on the east side of the road and the parking area is just ahead - the turnoff is right across the road from a pullout viewpoint of Bow Lake. No facilities. Fee - see fee for details Trails: For a good day outing, head up to Helen Ridge. The packed dirt, one-person width trail starts heading up immediately through the trees. After 2 stream crossing, the trail actually heads down for a bit. After the 4th stream crossing (a double-stream), the trail starts heading up again - mild at first and then gets steeper. After rounding the bend, the trail is almost above the tree line and is mild most of the rest of the way to the lake (a couple of small ups and downs), but still some ways to go to get to the lake. Once you reach the lake, the rock outcrop near the trail is a nice resting spot - and do take a rest as the lake is not your destination. If you've made it to the lake, you must head up to the ridge top as the views are well worth the effort. And it is a hard, steep up. Halfway up is a junction. To the left is an extremely steep short cut (I wouldn't want to go down that) for those going up Cirque Peak (no true trail to the peak). To the right is the way you want to go. It's still a hard up (but not as hard up as the short cut). Once you reach the ridge, head right along the ridge to the far right for wonderful 360 degree views including down on Katherine Lake, Dolomite Valley, and Bow Valley. On the way back, once you round the bend, keep an eye out for some impressive views of Bow Lake and Crowfoot Glacier across the way. Trail Length + Elevation: 4.3, 1805 feet one-way to ridge Area: Trees, mountains, above tree line, mountain lake, mountain ridge with 360 degree views. Pictures When I did the hike: Friday, August 25, 2006; Monday, July 7, 2008 (to lake) Recommendation: Yes, yes, yes. The hike takes some effort, but the views from the ridge are worth it.
Miller and Eva Lakes - Mt. Revelstoke Directions: Hwy 1 to Mt Revelstoke National Park, near the west end of the park, turn north on the road that goes all the way to the top of Mt. Revelstoke. Chemical toilets at parking area, outhouse at Miller Lake (probably one somewhere at Eva Lake). Ask for a trail map for Eva Lake when you enter the park. $7 Canadian. Trails: From the parking area, you have a choice of waiting and taking the free shuttle up to the trailhead or hike an extra mile up (use the shuttle up, the trail down). There are a couple of small lakes at the parking area itself and the area is over-used. The trail to Miller and Eva Lakes (and Jade Pass) is to the left and straight from where the shuttle drops you off. The trail starts as a short bit paved and then a bit of gravel, but is dirt and rock the rest of the way. The trail starts with a mild down and then a mild up through the trees. The trail then heads down, including a couple of switchbacks (not a huff-and-puffer). The trail is mild through a couple of rock fields (defined trail through the fields, so not difficult). The trail rounds the bend and heads up (not steep). At the junction, hook a right a Miller is 1/4 mile ahead - a small up and down to the pretty lake. There are some small rock area along the shore near where the trail reaches the lake that you can rest and feet soak on. Back at the junction, continue on and the junction for Jade Pass and Jade Lakes is just ahead (all the junctions are signed) - I was going to hike out to those lakes (2.5 miles one-way from junction), but ominous clouds were coming and I had to be rational and simply head back to my car - the trail to the Jade Lakes is a reportedly hard up to a pass and then a steep down to the lakes. Eva Lake is 1/2 mile straight on the trail with some up (nothing difficult). I wasn't impressed with Eva Lake (but it is close enough that if you go to Miller Lake, you might as well go to Eva Lake too). Trail Length + Elevation: 3.4 miles, 382 ft down, 262 ft up to Miller Lake .5 miles, 118 feet up Miller Lake to Eva Lake 5.6 miles, 787 ft up, 1099 ft down trailhead to Jade Lakes (2.5 miles from Miller Lake to Jade Lakes) Area: Mountains, trees, alpine meadows, mountain lakes. Pictures When I did the hike: Saturday, August 18, 2007 Recommendation: If you are in the area, sure. Don't make a special trip out for these lakes, though.
Hamilton Lake - Yoho National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to Yoho National Park. Just west of the small town of Field, head north on Emerald Lake Road all the way to the parking lot near the large lake. The trailhead is at the southwest edge of the parking lot. Chemical toilets at the parking lot . Free Trails: It's an up, up, up hike almost the whole way. Enjoy the mild sections of the hike as there are few (as you would expect of a trail that gains 2800 feet in such a short distance). There are lots and lots of switchbacks as you head up through the trees. Early on in the hike, you reach the unimpressive Hamilton Falls (with a chained fence barrier) next to the trail. And then you continue going up for a long ways. You're not close to the lake until you reach the talus slope, and even then you still have a bit further to go. After going next to the big boulder, the trail continues to the right, but there is a nice viewpoint to the left and top of the boulder of the valley you came up. The lake is a short up ahead and around the bend. Take a well deserved rest at the lake. It took me 2 hours to reach the small, pretty lake that is in a granite bowl with granite peaks above. Trail Length + Elevation: 3.4 miles, 2800 feet one-way Area: Mountains, small falls, trees, mountain lake. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, August 27, 2006 Recommendation: A harder hike with a very pretty destination. I liked the lake.
Twin Falls and Whaleback Ridge - Yoho National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to Yoho National Park. A few miles east of the town of Field, head north on the Yoho Valley Road all the way to the road's end at Takakkaw Falls (extremely tall waterfall visible from the road, also a short paved trail to near the bottom of the falls). Toilets at parking lot, outhouse near chalet. Free Trails: Masochistic me combined 3 separate hikes to make a long loop and a very full day hike. I did the Twin Falls, Whaleback, and part of the Iceline trails as one hike. The hike to Twin Falls starts at the top of the parking lot, heading into the campground area. The gravel trail is mild most of the way heading along side the Yoho River. After a bit of an up, there is a short side trail to a view point of a cascade - skip it. And then the trail is mild again. After the branch for Lake Duchesnay (again skip, it was dry when I was there and didn't look like it would be interesting with water), the trail drops to the river. Take a rest and enjoy the pretty Laughing Falls. As the trail rounds the tip of an old moraine, the trail climbs for a ways. After getting glimpses of Twin Falls through the trees, the trail heads down until reaching the campground (there are no views of the falls at the campground and none until you are near the falls). Then it's up, up, and up, including some switchbacks. The trail does get milder near the falls. At the junction (with an outhouse to the right), take a short jaunt right and then a quick left for the trail to the best views of the falls (with benches). Rest and enjoy the view (and maybe get a little wet from the water spray). The Twin Falls Chalet is across the bridge you see below you (take a left and the trail junction to reach it - I didn't visit it). When you are ready, head back out to the trail and more climbing is ahead. Take a left on the trail and head up for the Whaleback trail. The good news is that you're leaving the gravel trail behind for the rest of the way. The bad news is that the trail heads up, up, up. After the boulder field, the trail starts switchbacking like crazy. Once it's over, it's mild for a short ways and then heads down (just to annoy you) to the top of the falls. Find a nice (and safe) spot to relax and enjoy the views along the stream. There's more up ahead right after crossing the bridge over the stream. Be sure to pause occasionally and look around as there are grand views of the stream, ice, and mountain peaks. At the trail crest, take a short side trip to the mountain edge (where there is a memorial plaque for some people who died) for views down Yoho Valley. Then it's a steep switchback all the way down to the trail junction (I wouldn't want to go up that) - a quick 30 minutes. I laid on the trail for a bit upon reaching the junction (and then caught my second wind and continued on). At this point you have a choice - the easier way back is to the left for 1 mile and hooking back up with the mild trail along the Yoho River for 2.7 miles back to the parking lot. The harder way is to take the down to the bridge over the creek and then head up pass the uneventful Lake Celeste and continue up to the junction with the Iceline Trail, above the tree line. At the junction is a pretty, very small glacial fed lake with ice and peaks above it. Be forewarned that the Iceline Trail is not a level trail - it goes up and down and up and down a few ridges for the next 2 miles. But there are 2 more small lakes in between the ridges and then you get some grand views of Takakkaw Falls across the valley. After finally reaching the junction to head down towards the parking lot, it's 1.6 miles downhill the rest of the way (and I made a quick go at it). The trail comes out behind the hostel and then walk to the road and cross it and continue on the trail on the other side of the road to the base of the Takakkaw Falls and the parking lot. Trail Length + Elevation: 5.1 miles, 950 feet to Twin Falls 4.1 miles, 1350 feet up, 1000 feet down Twin Falls to Little Yoho Junction (Whaleback) 2.6 miles, about 980 feet up Little Yoho Junction to Iceline Trail (Lake Celeste) 2 miles Iceline Trail to down junction (ups and downs along the way) 1.6 miles, about 1300 feet down junction to parking lot Area: Huge waterfall, river, trees, impressive double-fall, scenic mountain veiws, very small mountain lakes Pictures When I did the hike: Saturday, August 26, 2006 Recommendation: What I did was a little too much. Either break it into separate hikes or skip the Iceline portion of the trail. The Whaleback section was very scenic.
Ross Lake - Yoho National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to the turnoff for Lake O'Hara (on the south side of the road) - about 2 miles west of the Alberta-BC boarder and a little east of Wapta Lake (next to the highway). You can either park next to the barrier of the blocked old road or go right a short distance to the parking area for the Lake O'Hara shuttle. [The shuttle to Lake O'Hara costs a pretty penny and requires reservations.] Flush toilet at the parking area for Lake O'Hara Free Trails: You first have to walk along the old (paved) Great Divide Road (decommissioned in 2000) for a little over a mile to the actual trailhead (look for the Ross Lake sign) - the road parallels Hwy 1. From the road, the trail heads a mild up in the trees and it's less than a mile to the lake. At the T-junction near the lake, take a left and you'll see the lake a short ways ahead on the right. It's a small lake with trees on 3 sides and a mountain on the 4th. There is lots of road noise the entire way, including at the lake. Trail Length + Elevation: A little over 2 miles and 330 feet to the lake Area: Trees, mountains, mountain lake When I did the hike: Sunday, August 27, 2006 Recommendation: No, skip it.
Plains of Six Glaciers - Lake Agnes Loop (Lake Louise/Banff National Park) Directions: Hwy 1 to Lake Louise exit. Take the main road all the way to the lake. Park in the public parking lot. Note that it's popular, so arrive early. Flush toilets at the parking lot, chemical toilets near the Teahouse on the way to the Plains of Six Glaciers and near the Teahouse at Lake Agnes. $9 Canadian per day for Banff National Park Trails: Start off along the trail that goes along the north shore of the pretty Lake Louise. The trailhead for Lake Agnes is near the Chateau. The wide, wide, level paved trail goes along the lake all the way to the end. After a small up and down, a horse trail joins the trail and you occasionally get extra odors (but no where near as bad as the Lake Agnes trail). The trail narrows some, becomes packed dirt, and starts heading a mild up. The up becomes steeper (but nothing too hard) along the way and there is little shade. There will be 2 trail junctions along the way, continue straight at both. It's less than a mile from the last junction to the Teahouse. The Teahouse is in the trees to the right with a chemical toilet near by. The area has an open meadow with a streaming going through it and makes a nice resting spot or lunch break (bring you own lunch unless you like expensive prices at the Teahouse). A small bridge goes over the creek and the trail continues to closer to the glaciers - you may have to go over a couple of small snow patches along the way. After going along the dicey slope, the trail heads steeply up and you can stop when ever you feel like it - there is no true "lookout". Some went all the way up to the rocks at the base of the cliff, I found a nice comfy rock along the way and sat there and enjoyed the views. Head back along the trail to the first trail junction you come to and take a left along the Highland Trail. It took me 2 1/2 hours of steady hiking with only a few pauses (no long breaks) to get to the lookout area. After 1 km (.6 miles), continue straight after another trail junction and the trail goes into the forest. After another .6 miles is the junction for the Beehive/Lake Agnes. Take a left and the fun begins as it's up, up, up for the next .6 miles (in the forest most of the way, with a couple of good scenic views). After huffing and puffing and pausing, you reach the pass. You still have a little more up (though mild) to go. Take a right and go .2 miles over the rocks and dirt to the Big Beehive - there's a gazebo at the end - with some great views down on Lake Louise. You can also look down on Lake Agnes, but you have to work a little bit to get those views. I took me 2 1/2 hours with pauses and 1 long break (as I talked for a bit with a hiker coming the other way) to get from the 6 Glacier Teahouse area to the gazebo. Back at the pass, it's a steep, steep pure switchback down to Lake Agnes and then a pretty walk around the lake to the Teahouse. If you go pass the Teahouse and continue along the shore (no trail), you can find a nice resting spot with few to no people and little noise and wonderful views of the lake with the mountains behind it. Back at the Teahouse, take the 1/2 mile (one-way) sidetrip to Little Beehive. The view from Little Beehive of the entire wide valley between the mountains isn't that exciting as it's dominated by the road that goes through the middle, but you do get more views of Lake Louise and (going slightly off trail) a wonderful look back at Lake Agnes and all the mountains. Back at the Teahouse, there are some wooden steps heading down and then the trail gets icky for a while as it's a combo-trail for a while and the horses use it daily and leave plenty of reminders. Mirror Lake is along the way and is very blah. Continue down and at the junction, bear right - straight is slightly shorter, but it's a pure horse trail and surely you've had enough of those odors. The wide packed dirt trail continues down (with no lake views) and comes out near the Chateau. I spent 9 1/2 hours on this hike (including several long breaks). Trail Length + Elevation: Total: about 12 miles, around 2500 feet 4 1/4 miles, 1,300 feet from Chateau to Plains of Six Glaciers lookout 3 3/4 miles, ?? feet from lookout to Big Beehive (down then up) 1 mile, 400 feet down from Big Beehive to Lake Agnes Teahouse little over 1 mile, ?? feet from Teahouse to Little Beehive and back little over 1 3/4 miles, 1300 feet down from Teahouse to Chateau Area: Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, June 24, 2006 Recommendation: Very pretty, but may be a little much for one day, unless you are in very good shape. You can separate it in to 2 days by doing there-and-backs for 6 Glaciers and Lake Agnes (with the Beehives) [But I don't think I'd like going up _and_ down the manure smelling trail to Agnes].
Rockpile Loop (Moraine Lake/Banff National Park) Directions: Hwy 1 to Lake Louise exit. Take the main road a short ways and then turn left at the sign saying Lake Moraine that way and go for 7.5 miles on that road to the lake. It's a small parking lot, so arrive early. Chemical toilets at the parking lot. $9 Canadian per day for Banff National Park Trails: The short dirt and rock trail starts next to the parking lot, between the toilets and the lake. There is also a trail map of the area and trail descriptions on a sign near by. After a teeny bit, start heading up to the right at the junction for the Consolation Lakes trail. There are nature sign descriptions (mostly geology) along the way. After the climb, next to one of the signs, you can take a left and a steep down off trail for a pretty view next to the lake (and get away from the crowds). Enjoy the many fantastic views of Moraine Lake along this loop. Trail Length + Elevation: about 1/2 mile pseudo-loop, 82 feet Area: Small rockpile at the tail of a large, pretty mountain lake, surround by several granite peaks. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, June 25, 2006; August 19+20, 2007; Monday, July 7, 2008 Recommendation: Definitely - a must if you go to Moraine Lake (and if you are in the Lake Louise area, you should go to Moraine Lake, even if you just have time for a short visit). I found Moraine Lake to be prettier than Lake Louise - there are less people - and the best views are from the rockpile. You can also walk along the wide level trail that goes along the north side of the lake.
Lake Consolation (Moraine Lake/Banff National Park) Directions: Hwy 1 to Lake Louise exit. Take the main road a short ways and then turn left at the sign saying Moraine Lake that way and go for 7.5 miles on that road to the lake. It's a small parking lot, so arrive early. Chemical toilets at the parking lot. $9 Canadian per day for Banff National Park Trails: The trail starts next to the parking lot, between the toilets and the lake. There is also a trail map of the area and trail descriptions on a sign near by. After passing the junction for the Rockpile Loop (continuing straight at the junction), the 2-person width trail goes through a rocky area, but is then mostly packed dirt to the lake. It's a mild grade up (and is even level at times) through the forest. The pleasant noise of running water from the creek accompany you most of the way. When you get to an open meadow with views of the wide creek, you are almost to the lake. There is a boulder field in front of the lake. With lots of careful and time consuming effort, you can rock-hop to the lake's edge - you'll also have lots of company as there are a ton of mosquitos amongst the rocks. The trail map showed the trail continuing across the creek and along the lake to the Upper Consolation Lake, but there is no bridge and I couldn't see any trace of a trail on the other side of the creek, so I didn't bother with the wet water crossing (I would have if I saw a trail on the other side). Another write-up of this trail described the way to Upper Consolation Lake as a wet, rough path. Trail Length + Elevation: 1 3/4 miles (one-way), 213 feet Area: Forest, mountains, mountain lake Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, June 25, 2006 Recommendation: Well, it is a pretty mountain lake. I was a little disappointed in it with the lack of an easy crossing of the creek and the mosquitos at the lake. It's not a hard hike, but Eiffel Lake (which is a harder hike) is more worth your time.
Paradise Valley (Moraine Lake/Banff National Park) Directions: Hwy 1 to the Lake Louise exit. Go though the small Lake Louise Village (2 stop signs) and at the turnoff to the left just past the village, take the left for Lake Moraine and about 3 miles ahead is a turnoff on the right (the only turnoff along the way) for the Paradise Valley parking lot. No facilites (vault toilets at Lake Moraine parking lot). Fee - see fee for details Trails: From the parking lot, the trail goes up for a short ways before joining the wide ski trail that goes between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake - head straight. The ski trail is mild with some ups. At the next junction (shortly before a bridge), take a right for Paradise Valley. The trail stays wide and heads up. Take a left at the next junction (the old loop end is to the right) and the trail continues heading up. The trail then heads down and there are a couple of ups and downs ahead (nothing hard). The trail comes to the first bridge and you get your first sight of how special this hike is. As pretty as the view is from the bridge, the views get better the further into the valley you go. The trail is mild as it heads along the river and crosses it again. The trail heads a little away from the river and has more of an up. After the trail crosses the 3rd bridge, the trail narrows and is rockier and it is a big up for 1/3 mile (up, up, and up) to Lake Annette. The lake is a pretty, small sized lake with Mt Temple looming directly above (the only access to the lake is right when the trail first reaches it). From the lake, the trail stays narrow and continues to head a hard up through the trees. The up finally ends and the trail calms down. As the trail rounds a bend, there is a pretty view to the north of Mt Aberdeen - but there are better views ahead. The trees thin and then the trail goes through an open rock field (good path through the field) with magnificient views 360 degrees - find a comfy rock and enjoy the views, you may even spot a pika in the rock field. After the rock field, it is back into the trees and there are some rock hopping and log crossings over streams. At the Giant Steps junction, continue straight. If you plan on going up to Sentinel Pass, you have to keep an eye out for the turn - it's not signed (I missed it) - as you hit the rock field, take a hard left for Sentinel Pass (the trail continues straight - if you hit the trees, you missed the turn). For Sentinel Pass, the trail heads up, up, and up for 1.5 miles to the pass. Soon the trees are left behind and the rest of the way is through rock fields and scree slopes - you can see the pass and the way to go most of the way. You also see a number of "sentinels" (hoodoos) above you along the way. I actually didn't make it to the pass (have been to the pass from the other side) as the rain came while I was heading up and, after waiting for it to pass, I headed back down (it was one of those "rain for an hour, sunny for an hour, rain for an hour, ..." type of days). For not going to the pass (or in addition to the pass), continue straight and the trail makes its way through the rock field and then goes back into the trees. Eventually it heads down (mild down, not too long) to the valley floor and just past the Wasach Pass trail sign (continue straight) there are two long bridges over the river in the wide, open valley. Take a seat in the middle of one of the bridges (assuming no traffic) and enjoy the splendid view of the large, wide waterfall and rocky peaks of the top of the valley. You can either turn around and head back or continue straight and not to far ahead is the spur trail for the Giant Steps (and backcountry campground). It's .5 miles on the spur trail to the Giant Steps, a waterfall (didn't do the spur trail - it was getting late). The trail crosses a bridge (no views) and then heads a steep ugly up with switchbacks and re-joins the original trail (the "Giant Steps" junction passed earlier). Note: Most maps still show this as a loop trail, but they removed the back half of the loop in the summer of 2006 (all bridges are gone and that section of the trail is no longer maintained). If you have 2 cars, you can do a half-loop hike by going over Sentinel Pass to/from Moraine Lake (the trail between the Moraine Lake and Paradise Valley parking lots is 7 miles long). It is easier to do the half-loop starting from Moraine Lake (the climb to Sentinel Pass is harder from the Paradise Valley side). The half-loop is 10.5 miles long, 2375 feet (from Moraine). If you want to do the really long full loop (17.5 miles), go the other direction so that the last 7 miles is downhill. Trail Length + Elevation: 5.8 miles, 1250 feet one-way for Paradise Valley 7 miles, 2900 feet one-way to Sentinel Pass 3.5 miles, 800 feet one-way to Lake Annette Area: Canadian Rocky Mountains, beautiful and scenic valley, mountain lake, mountain pass. Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, July 5, 2008 Recommendation: An absolutely beautiful hike.
Sentinel Pass - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to the Lake Louise exit. Go though the small Lake Louise Village (2 stop signs) and at the turnoff to the left just past the village, take the left for Lake Moraine and go all the way to the parking lot at the end of the road (8 miles). Note that the lot is fairly small and fills up during the day, so it is best to arrive in the morning. Outhouse at the parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Bear Note: The trails in the Moraine Lake area all (excluding the lake side trail) had Bear restrictions when I was there in the late summer - you had to be in a group of at least 6 people to hike (and it was monitored that Monday, but not the following Saturday). The restriction only applies when there are bears in the area (there wasn't any restrictions when I went in June). If you don't have a group of 6, wait at the trailhead until you've gathered a group of 6 or more - and be flexible. I had planned on going to Eiffel Lake, but everyone was heading to Sentinel and, after waiting over an hour, I went ahead and joined a group to Sentinel. Funny note from that group: I'd had been hiking for several weeks, one was from the German Alps, 3 were hiking guides from Lake Louise, and a pair was from Holland - we let the Holland (flat land) couple lead. Oops. They set a very fast pace (and it's a climb to start) and, with no one willing to swallow pride and ask them to slow down, we were all huffing and puffing by the time we reached the trail junction. Trails: To get to the trailhead, head along the lake past the lodge and you'll see a large map and notice in front of a trail branching to the right - take the right. It's a climb at the start as the trail heads up over the first 1.5 miles through the trees with several switchbacks along the way (the trees do limit the view of Moraine Lake to just glimpses - no good views of the lake on this hike). At the trail junction, take a right and the trail continues heading up (though not as steep as an up). The trail gets milder heading through the meadows (but still up). At the benches, you can take an off-trail sidetrip to the right to reach Middle Minnestimma Lake with a pretty view of the Ten Peaks (as the mountains around Moraine Lake are called) to the right. The trail soon reaches Upper Minnestimma Lake and you can see the trail heading up the open slope above the lake with a couple of long switchbacks and Sentinel Pass is the saddleback in between the 2 mountain peaks. It is a climb up from the lake to the pass, but the views are well worth it (though, again, no views of Moraine Lake). You get views of the Ten Peaks and Larch Valley from the way you came and views of Paradise Valley and the Sentinel hoodoo on the other side of the pass. After coming down from the pass, stop at Upper Minnestimma Lake and walk around the lake (no trail) to the far side for an absolutely stunning view of Ten Peaks across the lake (and if you are lucky maybe even a reflection of the peaks on the lake. Trail Length + Elevation: 3.5 miles, 2376 feet one-way Area: Large lake, many mountains, small mountain lakes, great view point Pictures When I did the hike: Monday, August 28, 2006 Recommendation: Spectacular views.
Eiffel Lake - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to the Lake Louise exit. Go though the small Lake Louise Village (2 stop signs) and at the turnoff to the left just past the village, take the left for Lake Moraine and go all the way to the parking lot at the end of the road (8 miles). Note that the lot is fairly small and fills up during the day, so it is best to arrive in the morning. Vault toilets at the parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Bear Note: The trails in the Moraine Lake area all (excluding the lake side trail) had Bear restrictions when I was there in the late summer - you had to be in a group of at least 6 people to hike. The restriction only applies when there are bears in the area (there wasn't any restrictions when I went in June). If you don't have a group of 6, wait at the trailhead until you've gathered a group of 6 or more. [I got lucky and the 2 groups I hiked with in the Moraine Lake area were good people. One from the 2nd group was impressed that the bears knew how to count (he was joking) - the reason it's a minimum of 6 people is that they've found that there has never been a bear attack on a group of 5 or more people, and they added 1 to that for safety.] Trails: To get to the trailhead, head along the lake past the lodge and you'll see a large map and notice in front of a trail branching to the right - take the right. So after my failed first attempt to gather a group for Eiffel Lake earlier in the week, I went back determined to get to the lake this time. Fortunately I didn't have to wait too long until I'd found enough people willing to go to the lake. It's a climb at the start as the trail heads up and up over the first 1.5 miles through the trees with several switchbacks along the way (the trees do limit the view of Moraine Lake to just glimpses). At the trail junction (there is a bench there, but the bugs know about it), continue straight - and all the hard climbing is done as the rest of the way is just a mild up (and some level). After a bit, the trees thin out and then recede as you get above the tree line and there are some excellent views of the Ten Peaks and of Moraine Lake itself - the views of Moraine Lake eventaully do go away. The small, pretty Eiffel Lake is in a rock field and the trail stays high above the lake. If you want to get lake side (which we did), the best way down seemed to be the grass slope in the middle of the scree field - make your way carefully down the steep slope (and you'll see trail traces along the way from others who headed down). For my 2nd visit, I was able to make my way down lake side by going down along the far side of the bush area. There are plenty of great resting spots at the lake - a great lunch spot. Note that there are no views of Moraine Lake from the Eiffel Lake area (maybe further ahead on the trail). For those wanting to go further (2 in my group didn't). The trail continues for 2.5 miles and gains 1130 feet to Wenkchemna Pass. [My attempt to go to W Pass in 2008 got snowed out has they had snow in June and the way to the pass past Eiffel lake was 90% snow. I do recommend going a little past Eiffel Lake and then make your way off trail to the left for a pretty view down on Eiffel Lake.] After getting back to the trail junction, most of my group decided to head to Sentinel Pass (though I skipped the repeat climb to the pass and found a pretty spot at Upper Minnestimma Lake and waited for them) - we figured that there were enough people hiking that the other 2 would be safe for the last bit of the hike down (plus we picked up another person, so we were still a minimum group). Trail Length + Elevation: 3.5 miles, 1200 feet one-way Area: Large lake, many mountains, small mountain lake Pictures When I did the hike: Saturday, September 2, 2006; Friday, July 5, 2008 Recommendation: Yes, very pretty with closer views of the mountains than Sentinel Pass (though both are worth visits).
Boulder Lake and Deception Pass - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to the Lake Louise exit. After exiting the highway, head east (away from the village) on Whitehorn Road for about a mile. Take a right on to Fish Creek Road and a short ways ahead is the parking area on the right, right before the gate that restricts public access to the ski town of Temple. No facilities. Fee - see fee for details Temple road note: When I finished this hike, there was a ranger asking questions about hikers' opinions about a shuttle for the road (Lake Louise to Temple). I talked to her for a while. The reason they want a shuttle is that the road goes through a bear's habitat. She said that they may start the shuttle in 2007, so ask around about if there is a shuttle and what fees and reservations (if any) are needed. If done right, the shuttle would be a great thing - nobody wants to hike that dumb road. Though if done wrong (heavy fee, limited schedule, long term reservations required, ...) it would be a bad thing. Trails: The first 2 miles is really blah as it is simply walking up a gravel road with no views - okay, I actually didn't have to do that as one of the Temple road workers stopped and offered me a lift up and I accepted (something I've never done before), with many thanks for saving me that walk and enabling me to do much more hiking than I would have been able to if I had to walk up. The trail itself starts next to an information kiosk. From the kiosk, follow the signs for Skoski Lodge and you'll soon be on the wide trail (horses use the trail to supply the lodge). The trail heads up (not a hard up) for a little over 3 miles to Halfway Hut, a small cabin that used to be for ski trekkers (now only day use allowed) - there is an outhouse next to it. Shortly after the hut is the trail branch for Hidden Lake (more on that later). Trail continues straight with a bit of a climb (not still not really hard) to Boulder Pass. From Boulder Pass, the view back the way you came isn't that exciting, but the view forward is great with Ptarmigan Lake right in front of you and peaks in the distance. Take the short down to the good sized lake. If you had to walk the road or are tired, this is a good turning around point. Else, head on along the trail to the left of the lake. Near the end of the lake, take a left for the steep climb to Deception Pass. Once you reach the pass, don't stop - head down a bit until you can see the precious blue-green Skoski Lakes (no trail to the lakes) - I headed off trail a bit to the right and up for an even better view of the pretty lakes - the highlight of this hike. From Deception Pass, you get a nice view of Ptarmigan Lake and Baker Lake (further to the east and a 390 feet drop from Ptarmigan. I headed back to Ptarmigan Lake and walked around the far edge of the lake (sometimes on a trail, sometimes not) as I was heading for Redoubt Lake, above and to the south of Ptarmigan. I was eventually on a path (unmaintained) heading to the uneventful lake. On the way out, I went to the left of the way I came in, down the slate slope to the edge of Ptarmigan Lake so I could continue around the lake to get back to Boulder Pass - big mistake. That portion of the lake juts up to a large boulder field (and I'm talking big boulders) that I had to carefully traverse my way through and over for very slow going. After another rest at the lake I headed back. I took the side trip to Hidden Lake on the way back. At the junction near the hut, head north and the lake is where you'd expect it to be - at the base of the mountain to your right. It's a pretty lake and worth a visit. I did walk the road back and was again greatful to my good Samaritan who saved me from walking up that (and also suggested the view of the Skoski Lakes). Trail Length + Elevation: 2.4 miles, 1050 feet Temple road 2 miles trail start to Halfway Hut 1.6 miles Hidden Lake sidetrip (round) 1 mile hut to Boulder Pass, 1100 feet climb start to pass 1.5 miles Boulder Pass to Deception Pass Area: Mountains, mountain lakes Pictures When I did the hike: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 Recommendation: If a good shuttle system is in place, it would be a great place to visit with fewer crowds. If you do have to walk the road up, Hidden Lake and the head of Ptarmigan Lake would be good destinations. Skip Redoubt Lake.
Taylor and O'Brien Lakes - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to the Taylor Creek Picnic Area, on the west side of the road (between Castle Junction and Lake Louise). Outhouses at parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Trails: The wide, 2-person width packed dirt trail heads a steady up (no hard climbs, but not level). There is a marshy area right before the lake that may be muddy, but you can probably make your way carefully and avoid the mud. It's a good sized lake that some like to fish at. There is an open area next to the head of the lake and most of the rest of the lake is surrounded by trees. To continue on to O'Brien Lake, go back on the trail a short bit and you should find the O'Brien junction heading to the right starting with a log bridge over the creek. Although it is an unmaintained trail, the one-person width trail is well defined and easy to follow. The trail heads down at first and then heads up with a climb (though not a huff-and-puffer). After the Boom Lake junction, the trail heads through a marshy area and can get muddy. Keep to the left as much as you can to try to avoid the mud. The smaller lake is also a fishing spot, and also nothing exciting. Trail Length + Elevation: 3.9 miles, 1920 feet to Taylor Lake .75 miles Taylor Lake to O'Brien Lake Area: Trees, mountains, lakes When I did the hike: Sunday, September 3, 2006 Recommendation: No. Neither lake is special. Unmemoriable (thank goodness I took notes as I hardly remembered the lakes).
Floe Lake - Kootenay National Park Directions: Hwy 93 to the Floe Lake-Hawk Creek parking lot on the west side of the highway, about 14 miles south of the Banff-Kootenay boarder. Vault toilet at parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Trails: Floe Lake is a beautiful lake with a stunning backdrop of The Rockwall, a shear rock-faced mountain, on the far side of the lake. Unfortunately the valley leading up to the lake area was decimated by a heavy forest fire in 2003 - but fortunately the fire did not reach the lake area. So now the hike to Floe Lake is an ugly 6 miles before getting out of the burn area. The narrow, one-person width dirt trail starts heading down from the parking lot to a bridge over the creek a short ways ahead. The trail then heads to the right and parallels the road for a ways to the valley head. The trail crosses the valley creek over a bridge and then continues on parallelling the road for a bit longer (and you'll start wondering if you missed a branch, but you are on the correct trail). The trail finally switchbacks up and around a bend and heads up the valley, staying high above the valley creek. The trail is mild for a ways and then there is a switchback section and then it is mild again. At the foot of the falls, the trail goes up, up, and up - it doesn't shortcut over any side valleys and is a good climb. When the climb finally ends, the trail heads down to the campground and take a left and come out at the middle of the good-sized lake. The view is very impressive, especially with the fresh layer of snow I had. I had planned to go the extra distance to Numa Pass (where the views are supposed to be impressive), but the entire way was covered in snow and I became concerned with animal footprints next to the trail (looked like bear), so I turned around after a short bit and returned to the lake. Trail Length + Elevation: 6.5 miles, 2350 feet to Floe Lake 1.7 miles, 985 feet Floe Lake to Numa Pass Area: burnt trees, mountains, mountain lake Picture When I did the hike: Friday, September 1, 2006; Tuesday, July 8, 2008 Recommendation: It's a beautiful destination, but the hike to the lake is now ugly.
Paint Pots (Kootenay National Park) Directions: Take Hwy 1 to Hwy 93 west (turnoff between the towns of Banff and Lake Louise). Continue for 6 miles past the Albert-British Colombia border and take a right into the Paint Pots parking lot. Vault toilets. Fee - see fee for details Trails: The trail starts graveled and later is packed orange clay. There are some info signs along the way about the history of the area and uses of the clay. After passing two open areas containing patches of the Ochre Beds, there is a bit of an up as the trail goes along the stream from the mineral springs - kinds of colorful. At the end of the trail are 3 large orange mounds with water coming out of the top (the 3 springs). Trail Length: .6 miles one-way Area: Canadian Rocky Mountains, orange ochre dirt, 3 mineral springs When I did the hike: Wednesday, July 9, 2008 Recommendation: No, unless you've never seen natural red or orange dirt.
Marble Canyon (Kootenay National Park) Directions: Take Hwy 1 to Hwy 93 west (turnoff between the towns of Banff and Lake Louise). Continue for a little over 4 miles past the Albert-British Colombia border and take a right into the Marble Canyon parking lot. The trail starts to the left of the bathrooms. Flush toilets. Fee - see fee for details Trails: After a bridge over the river, the paved trail (not wheelchair accessible as there are steps) heads alongside the river and then turns left and heads up (with steps) alongside the Tokumm Creek. After that climb, the trail is mild as criss-crosses (bridges) above and next to the narrow slot canyon with the water of the creek gushing through below (at times 200 feet below). The paved path ends where the creek drops (waterfall) down for the start of the canyon. Trail Length: 1 mile loop with a tail Area: Canadian Rocky Mountains, fast flowing river through a slot canyon. Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, July 9, 2008 Recommendation: Worth a short visit. Pretty.
Boom Lake - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to Castle Junction and head west on Hwy 93 a short ways to the Boom Lake parking lot on the north side of the road (just pass the Storm Mountain Lodge). Outhouse at the parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Trails: The trail stays wide almost the whole way to the lake (it's an old dirt road). The popular trail is a steady mild up with no hard climbs. Once the trail starts heading down, you are getting close to the lake. Shortly before the lake, the trail narrows to a one-person width trail and you'll start seeing glimpses of the lake. It's a large mountain lake with trees along the north side and peaks at the far end. Trail Length + Elevation: 3.2 miles, 575 feet one-way Area: Trees, mountains, large mountain lake. Picture When I did the hike: Sunday, September 3, 2006 Recommendation: Na, unless you need an easier hike for a family outing.
Arnica and Twin Lakes - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to Castle Junction and then west on Hwy 93 to the Vista Lake viewpoint on the south side of the road (just passed the Boom Lake parking lot on the north side). No facilities. Fee - see fee for details Trails: This down-and-up-and-down-and-up-and-down and then back trek starts with a quick down to the uneventful Vista Lake, a tree surrounded lake. It's seems too early to stop for a break, but you might want to take one as next is a hard climb up the ridge to the right. It does start with a milder up to begin, but once the trail starts getting rooty, the hard climbing starts and continues for a ways. The are some open areas near the ridge where you can see peaks to the north and east. At the ridge, the trail takes a small down to a small meadow - you can either go through the meadow or go above it to the left (depends on if it's muddy). Then the up continues. Once you reach the ridge, the trail is mild for a little bit and then all of the sudden you are at the lake (no drop to the lake). There is a nice resting spot just ahead to the left. It's a good sized lake with a granite peak on the far side. The trail continues around the bottom of the lake and then the up starts again. It is a hard up and can be muddy at times. Once you reach the ridge, the good news is the climbing is done (until the return). The trail continues down for a good ways before reaching the Upper Twin Lake. Cross the outlet (easy rock hop) and take a right at the outhouse through the campground to a nice lakeside resting spot (including small benches). If you made it to Upper Twin Lake, you must continue on to Lower Twin Lake, the prettiest of the lakes. The trail heads down at a mild grade. Cross the stream on the log bridge and take a right (and it can be muddy) to get lake side. The lake is enhanced by a pretty waterfall that feeds the lake on the far side. There is a trail directly to Lower Twin Lakes from Hwy 1 (just south of Castle Junction) that's 5 miles and gains 2000 feet - if you can arrange the transportation, that would be a quicker out than returning back to the Vista Lake viewpoint (with all the ups and downs along the way). Trail Length + Elevation: Total (round): 11.4 miles, 3485 feet .9 miles, 390 feet down to Vista Lake 2.2 miles, 1900 feet up Vista Lake to Arnica Lake .5 miles, 440 feet up Arnica Lake to ridge .9 miles, 640 feet down ridge to Lower Twin Lake 1.2 miles, 115 feet down Lower Twin Lake to Upper Twin Lake Area: Mountains, trees, mountain lakes in bowls. Pictures When I did the hike: Monday, September 4, 2006 Recommendation: A long ways to go to reach the pretty Lower Twin Lake, the other lakes aren't that exciting.
Rockbound Lake - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 1A to Castle Junction (intersection of 1A and Hwy 93) - just south of the junction is the small parking area for Rockbound Lake and Silverton Falls (just north of the Castle Mountain campground). Outhouse to the left of the trailhead. Fee - see fee for details Trails: After a rained-out day and the morning drizzle finally had ended, I headed out to Rockbound Lake - the trail wasn't too muddy. The wide trail (old one-lane dirt road) heads a steady up at a mild grade for the first 3 miles (with some road noise from Hwy 1A) - it's an uneventful 75 minutes. After rounding the last bend (which puts you in the valley behind Castle Mountain), the trail narrows to regular trail width and continues through the trees. I had a big surprise when I rounded the bend - the entire area had a fresh layer of snow (while it rained the previous day in the lower elevations, it snowed in the higher elevations). It was a beautiful winter wonderland and I continued on through the snow. If not snow covered, the trail is rocky and rooty and can be muddy at points. After 1.7 miles from the trail narrowing, the trail reaches the small, but pretty Tower Lake. Try to find a spot and rest and enjoy the lake - unfortunately there are not many resting spots along the pretty lake as the west side (where the trail is) is grassy. Rock hop and log cross the outlet stream and the trail heads up, up, up. Rockbound Lake is over the ridge to the north of Tower Lake. It is a 300 foot climb for .5 miles, but worth the effort (if you make it to Tower Lake, continue on to Rockbound). There are some nice views down on Tower Lake on the way up. After cresting the ridge, the trail drops down and finally reaches Rockbound Lake, a good-sized lake in the middle of a boulder field. Find a comfty rock near the lake (I like the area to the left) and enjoy the views of the pretty area. Wander around the lake area if you feel like it. I'll freely admit that the snow biased my opinion of this hike as it was one of the highlights of the trip (and I even used a picture from this hike for my Christmas card). Even without the snow it is a pretty hike (despite the blah first 3 miles). Trail Length + Elevation: 5.2 miles, 2500 feet one-way Area: Trees, mountains, mountain lakes Pictures When I did the hike: Friday, September 1, 2006; Wednesday, July 9, 2008 Recommendation: A very pretty area, probably enhanced by the fresh snowfall I had.
Johnston's Canyon - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 1A to the Johnston Canyon parking lot (several miles south of Castel Junction). Flush toilets at parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Trails: It's a paved (and wheelchair accessible) trail all the way to the lower falls. There are sections of the trail that are "catwalks" where the trail is attached to the cliffside and hangs over the water. The lower falls are a small waterfall. The paved trail continues to the upper falls (with steps along the way - not wheelchair accessible) and gains about 500 feet elevation. The upper falls are a little more impressive (and much taller) than the lower falls, but still not that exciting. Trail Length: 1 mile, fairly level to lower falls .7 miles, about 500 feet to upper falls Area: Creek in a narrow canyon. When I did the hike: Thursday, August 31, 2006 Recommendation: Not really anything impressive, but a place you can visit even if the weather is poor due to the paved trail.
Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass - Banff National Park Directions: Hwy 1 to the Bourgeau Lake parking area on the west side of the road, shortly past the Sunshine Road turnoff. Outhouses at parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Trails: The trail stays wide (2-person width) most of the way to Bourgeau Lake. It's a mild up, but a long ways to the bottom of the falls. Take a break at the falls as the next 30 minutes is a huff-and-puff up, with a number of switchbacks. Then it is mild the rest of the way to the lake - it took me about 2 hours to reach the lake. The trail reaches the lake near the outlet at a boulder field with plenty of nice resting spots. The pretty lake is surrounded by granite peaks for half of it's circumference and trees on the other half. If you make it to the lake, do continue on to the pass - the views and small lakes along the way are wonderful. The one-person width trail continues from Bourgeau Lake through the trees and (after a small up) comes out at the base of a large scree slope. The rest of the way is up, up, up and above the tree line. The trail continues through the scree slope (there some choices of which trail to take through the slope, but they all converge eventually, so take which ever one you feel comfortable with. At the top of the falls is a small pretty lake - and you are done with the scree until the return. The trail is mild around the lake and then it is another up next to another small waterfall. At the top, the trail heads left and it's a steep climb on packed dirt (to the right and straight ahead at the top of the falls looks like it might hold some gems, but you'll see from above what is there and that it's really not worth an off-trail visit. At the ridge is the small Harvey Lake. And just ahead (and not much of a climb) is Harvey Pass. From the pass, you get long distance views of the peaks south, including Mount Assiniborne. There is no need to go left from the pass as the views are the best at the pass and there is no view down on Bourgeau Lake from the saddleback to the left (though it looks like there would be). Trail Length + Elevation: 4.6 miles, 2380 feet to Bourgeau Lake 1.4 miles, 965 feet Bourgeau Lake to Harvey Pass Area: Mountains, trees, mountain lakes Picture When I did the hike: Tuesday, September 5, 2006 Recommendation: One of the nicest hikes close to the town of Banff.
Chester Lake - Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Directions: Hwy 1 to Hwy 40 to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, taking a right on to Kananaskis Lakes road. After about a mile and a half, take a right on to Smith-Dorrien Road. The rough road is paved for the first 2 miles, but the rest is not paved - it's another 10 miles to the Chester Lake parking area, on the left side of the road. Chemical toilet at parking lot. Free Trails: The trail starts as a blah old logging road, and is that way for about a mile and a half, but most of the elevation gained is along this stretch. The trail narrows slightly (but still wide) as it becomes dirt and rooty. Once you reach the first meadow, the trail is mild the rest of the way to the lake. At the last meadow, there are some good views of the peaks behind you. The lake is a nice sized lake with trees on 3 sides and the 4th an impressive mountain with diagonal ridges making up the entire face (with a scree slope at the bottom). You can walk all the way around the lake. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.8 miles, 1030 feet Area: Trees, mountains, mountain lake Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, September 6, 2006 Recommendation: It is a pretty lake with the sheer wall beside it, but I don't know if it's worth the drive to get there (if you are in the area or it's along the way, definitely stop).
Black Prince Cirque - Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Directions: Hwy 1 to Hwy 40 to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, taking a right on to Kananaskis Lakes road. After about a mile and a half, take a right on to Smith-Dorrien Road. The rough road is paved for the first 2 miles, but the rest is not paved - it's another 3 miles to the Mount Black Prince Day Use parking area, on the left side of the road. Chemical toilet at parking lot. Free Trails: The trail starts as an old logging road heading up. At the bench, take a right and head on to a true, 2-person width trail. Take a right at the hiking sign for the start of the loop. Warspite Lake, set in the trees, is at the top of the loop - but it was nothing more than a small pond when I was there and the views were nothing exciting. Trail Length: 1.3 miles Area: Trees, mountains When I did the hike: Wednesday, September 6, 2006 Recommendation: A great disappointment. The hiking book described it as one of the best effort to reward hikes, but when I was there it was completely blah.
Rawson Lake - Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Directions: Hwy 1 to Hwy 40 to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, taking a right on to Kananaskis Lakes road. Continue on the road all the way to Upper Kananaskis Lake road and take the first parking option for the upper lake. The trailhead is at the far end of the gravel parking lot. Chemical toilet at parking lot, outhouse at the lake. Free Trails: The trail starts as the mild walk around Upper Kananaskis Lake. After crossing over the small, pretty waterfall (not the earlier trinkle waterfall), the branch for Rawson Lake heads left. And you up, up, up as almost all of the climbing is done along this stretch. The trail finally calms down and it's mild (with a slight grade up) the rest of the way to the lake. The lake is shortly after the section of the trail where you walk on logs. Head to the left some for nice resting spots (and feet soaking). It's a pretty lake set in a granite bowl. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.2 miles, 1000 feet Area: Trees, mountains, mountain lake Picture When I did the hike: Wednesday, September 6, 2006 Recommendation: If you are in the area, definitely do this hike - it's not hard and it's a pretty lake in a granite amphitheater.
Bertha Lake (Waterton Lakes National Park) Directions: In Waterton, take the entrance road to the town of Waterton. Continue straight (Evergreen Ave) until it T-junctions with Cameron Falls Drive. Take a right and either park in the area right after the bridge (for a little longer hike - trail starts on the west side of the road and continue straight at the junction) or drive a little further and look for a small parking area on the right. No facilities. $7 Canadian. Trails: The trail starts with a short up and then heads along (but above) Upper Waterton Lake a while. At the Bertha Lake Junction (first junction), take a left and head up the canyon. From here it is a surprisingly a mild up to Bertha Falls, a small pretty falls, similar to Cameron Falls. The trail soon starts heading a harder up and it's an up almost all the way to the lake. When you see the upper falls, you get an idea of exactly how much up is left (actually a little more than that as the trail goes above a rock section). Right where the trail drops to the lake, first go straight for a great overlook of the lake before heading down. There is a narrow (4 km) trail that goes all the way around (didn't do - too cold and windy). Trail Length + Elevation: 3.6 miles, 1500 feet one-way Area: Mountains, trees, huge Upper Waterton Lake, good sized mountain lake. Picture When I did the hike: Monday, August 20, 2007 Recommendation: It's a pretty lake and a nice hike.
Carthew-Alderson Trail - Waterton Lakes National Park Logistics: For this hike, you either need 2 vehicles or take a shuttle service. The Tamarock Village Square store in Waterton offers a shuttle that departs at 9 am ($10 Canadian in 2006) - they take reservations, but do have a minimum and maximum of number of people that they'll take each day. If you can't arrange the transportation, you can just do a there-and-back to Carthew Summit. Directions: In Waterton, take the Akamina Parkway road to the end at Cameron Lake. Flush toilets at Cameron Lake, outhouse at campground near Alderson lake. Fee - see fee for details Trails: As you face Cameron Lake (and take the obligatory picture of the beautiful large lake), the trail starts to the left of the canoes. Note that there are glimpses of Cameron Lake along the trail, but no good full views (so enjoy Cameron before you start). The 1 1/2 person width, dirt and small rocks trail heads steadily up the mountainside with 5 long switchbacks along the way and then a shorter distance to the 6th switchback. The trail is then mild the rest of the way to Summit Lake, about 15 minutes ahead. Summit Lake is a small, tree encircled lake with mountain peaks visible in the far distance - not that exciting of a lake. Take a rest at the one good resting spot at the lake. Near behind that resting spot is the branch for Carthew Summit. Make sure you take that hard left branch - the trail that continues around Summit Lake and then down to Boundary creek is a seldom used trail. From the lake, the trail starts climbing immediately - it's a steeper up and the trail is rockier. After a bend, you'll see ahead the nasty scree slope with almost no trees with the trail going through it with a couple of switchbacks up the mountainside. That's the unpleasant portion of the hike - it's a narrow trail that can be harrowing at times. Once you finally reach the ridge, you can see down the other side to the 3 Carthew Lakes, but don't head down yet. If it's not too windy, first take a right to the jut of rocks and make your way to the top for a really "Wow!" view point (and a good spot for lunch). The views are majestic 360 degrees. Almost all the rest of the hike is downhill, except for a small up out of the Middle Carthew Lake. The Upper and Middle Carthew Lakes (the trail doesn't go next to the lower lake) are above the tree line and pretty in their own right - take time and enjoy each one. There is a small up out of Middle Carthew Lake, and then it's down, down, down as the trail heads back into the trees. Heading towards Alderson Lake, there are some very pretty views of the lake (actually prettier from above than lakeside). The trail stays well above the lake and you have to take a .2 mile side trip to visit the lake (taking a right at the campground junction, the branch comes out at the head of the lake) - it's worth the visit and the last true resting spot before the last blah 5 miles of the hike. The rest of the trail heads in the trees down the canyon and then around a bend and eventually comes out at the pleasant Carthew Falls at the edge of town (taking a left at the end of the fence along the trail, else head straight and the trail comes out at the Waterton campground, both are on the west side of town). Including long breaks at the lakes and sidetrips, it took me 7.5 hours to complete this hike. Trail Length + Elevation: 4.9 miles, 2135 feet up to Carthew Summit 7.6 miles, 3330 feet down summit to Waterton townsite Area: Trees, mountains, scree field, mountain lakes. Pictures When I did the hike: Friday, September 8, 2006 Recommendation: A wonderful hike with many excellent views.
Wall Lake - Waterton Lakes National Park Directions: In Waterton, take the Akamina Parkway road to about half a mile before Cameron Lake. The parking area is a dirt pulloff on the left side of the road - the trail starts on the right side of the road. No facilities at trailhead, but flush toilets at Cameron Lake. Outhouse near far side of the lake. Fee - see fee for details Trails: The trail starts as an old dirt road bed and stays wide until the junction for Wall Lake. It is an up to start (but not a huff-and-puffer), but is mild the rest of the way. Shortly after the campground area, take a left for the Wall Lake trail (signed junction) and the trail narrows and stays level for a little bit before mildly heading up. When you reach the lake, continue around the lake (don't just stop at the head). Near the top of the lake is a strip of land that goes out into the water and there will likely be some snow in the area. The very pretty lake is in a mountain bowl. Look for mountain goats grazing high above you. [Technically the lake is in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, but the trailhead is in Waterton.] Trail Length + Elevation: 3.2 miles, 350 feet to the lake Area: Trees, mountains, mountain lake Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, September 7, 2006; Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Friday, July 11, 2008; Monday, August 22, 2011 Recommendation: Absolutely - a surprisingly pretty lake for such an easy hike.
Forum Lake - Waterton Lakes National Park Directions: In Waterton, take the entrance road to Akamina Parkway (just before the town of Waterton) and take a left (signed for Cameron Lake). Continue on the road to almost the end and look for a pulloff area on the left (the trail starts on the right). Flush toilets at Cameron Lake. $7 Canadian. Trails: The trail starts as a dirt road and heads a hard up to start to the park border. A short bit past the border, is the signed junction for Forum Lake - take a left. A short ways ahead is a ranger station and a short side-trip to the blah Forum Falls. From there, the trail narrows and is a steep, hard up for about .5 miles that will have you huff-and-puffing and pausing every minute or two - no switchbacks, just up. The trail finally calms down some, but is still heading up. It is mild to the creek crossing and then some more up (but nothing like before) - the lake is still a little ways away. After the narrow logs, there is a short up and a short down to the lake. There is a pretty backdrop to the lake, but the lake itself is not exciting or very pretty. Trail Length + Elevation: 2.7 miles, 1150 one-way. Area: Mountains, trees, small mountain lake. Picture When I did the hike: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 Recommendation: Na. Wall Lake is much prettier and a far easier hike and more worthier of your time. Since the two lakes share the same start, you can do both lakes in one long hike.
Rowe Lakes and Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park Directions: In Waterton, take the Akamina Parkway road to about a mile before Cameron Lake. The parking area is a dirt pulloff on the right side of the road. [And make sure you are at the sign for Rowe Tamarack, not Lineham Falls (a different hike).] No facilities (flush toilets at Cameron Lake) Fee - see fee for details Trails: The dirt trail is wide to start and narrows later. The trail heads up to start, though not at a steep grade, and goes along Rowe Creek, including a pretty section where the water flows over red rock. It took me about an hour to reach the junction for Lower Rowe Lake. It's a very short side trip to the uneventful, tree surrounded lake - I'd say just skip it, but it's such a short a distance that you might as well take the side trip and form your own opinion of the lake. From that junction, it's about 20 minutes further ahead (again mild heading up) to the Upper Rowe Lakes junction. I elected to take that branch on the way back (and that seems like a good way to do it if you want to do both). Either way you are going, take a rest near the junction as it's a hard up for both branches. From the junction, take a look behind you at the ridge across the way and you can see part of the Lineham Ridge trail as a line through the scree slope of the mountain slope. Take a right and go up for the Lineham Ridge trail and huff-and-puff your way up for about 10 minutes on the loose rock trail. The trail then continues heading up as it rounds the top of the valley, but not as harsh as an up, and you are mostly above the tree line. Once you hit the scree slope, you still have a long ways to go. As you continue up, you'll reach the "Oh crap!" switchback - as in you thought you were almost done, but the trail switchbacks and heads a long ways the other direction, keeping below the ridge. At that switchback, first take a right and make your way to the open saddleback and find a nice resting spot and enjoy the wonderful views down on the Lineham Lakes. You can also look across the Rowe Valley and see Upper Rowe Lakes across the way. The saddleback is actually a great destination point and you can skip the rest of the hike as the views from the saddleback are the best along the hike. But if you want to continue, take a left at the switchback. There is a short rocky outcrop section where you'll need your hands free to help yourself up. Continue around the rock bend and take looks down on the Lineham Lakes. Turn around when the trail starts heading down (the trail continues for a long ways further into the park). The gorgeous Lineham Lakes are in an isolated hanging valley - there is no trail to reach them. Back at the Upper Rowe Lakes trail junction, I took the left and headed up to the lakes. The trail was uneventful as it stays in the trees and there are a few switchbacks along the way. The trail peaks near the smaller of the two Upper Rowe Lakes (not much more of a pond when I was there) and then it's a short descent to the much larger Upper Rowe Lake. Find a nice spot to rest, feet soak, and enjoy the pretty lake. It took me 30 minutes to get to the lake from the junction on my tired legs. Note: I had my 2nd ever trail bear encounter on this hike. It was about 20 minutes from the end of the hike and in an avalanche slope was a bear and her cub near the trail. A group had already spotted her when I arrived and we waited and more people arrived. When we got about 15 people (and some had bear gas), we decided to try to pass as she was showing no signs of moving on, despite the loud noises we were making. We all made it safely past, but she was very reluctant to leave the trail area. I went to report the bear sighting to the ranger station afterwards, but they were already closed. A couple from the hike showed up while I was there and said they'd stop by the next day (I was leaving) and report it. I was very concerned that the bear was too used to people as bears will usually leave an area when a large number of people are around and a lot of noise is intentionally being made. Trail Length + Elevation: 5.3 miles, 3115 feet to Lineham Ridge .75 miles, more up sidetrip to Upper Rowe Lakes (4 miles, 1820 feet from trailhead to upper lakes) Area: Trees, mountains, mountain lakes. Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, September 9, 2006 Recommendation: I'd put the Carthew-Alderson hike before this, but it is a pretty view down on Lineham Lakes.
Red Rock Canyon - Waterton Lakes National Park Directions: In Waterton, take Red Rock Parkway all the way to the paved parking area at the end. Note that you often see bears along Red Rock Parkway. Chemical toilets at parking lot. Fee - see fee for details Trails: There is a paved 1 mile loop that goes above the small canyon (wheelchair accessible). Trail Length : 1 mile Area: Small narrow canyon (not very deep) made of red rock When I did the hike: Thursday, September 7, 2006 Recommendation: If you have an extra hour, it's a nice little place to visit. If you don't, you aren't missing much.
Crypt Lake (Waterton Lakes National Park - Canada) Directions: [From Glacier National Park] Hwy 89 to Hwy 17 to the Canadian boarder (customs stop). Hwy 17 turns into Hwy 6 on the Canadian side. Take Hwy 6 to Hwy 5 west and the park entrance is a short ways ahead. Take Hwy 5 into the town of Waterton Park and take the first road left to the end and turn left into the harbor parking lot. The water shuttle for the Crypt Lake hike departs at 9 am and and 10 am (advance reservations are not allowed) and the return shuttle is at 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm [if you miss the 4 pm shuttle, you can catch the 5:30 shuttle, but don't miss the 5:30 shuttle]. Flush toilets and water at the harbor, no toilet at the trail head, outhouse (may even have toilet paper) near Crypt Lake $5 Canadian for day use, plus $16 Canadian for water shuttle Trails: The one-person width trail starts heading up immediately. After a half of a mile to a mile, it levels some (with more downs than you realize - which you will notice on the way back). The Twin Falls (which are the first falls you reach) are not impressive and are small (just a small fall to a small pool and then another small fall in front of the pool for the "twin" name), but is a nice spot to take a short break. Enjoy your first view of the middle fall (Burnt Rock Falls - a larger fall with a concave area behind the fall). Enjoy it because the climb is about to begin. The trail up to the climb has been in the forest and for the rest of the way it is mostly in the open. You go up, up, and up for over a mile of switchbacks. Along the way up you get great views of the very tall Crypt Falls - the lake is at the top of the falls. Once you have finally huffed and puffed your way to the old campground area (no overnight trips allowed any more), the hard work is over and it is time to test your nerves. The short level trail from the campground to the tunnel through the talus slope is not bad (the slope the trail goes through looks steeper in pictures). It ends at a 12-foot ladder that goes up to a tunnel. The narrow ladder is to the side of the tunnel and ends at the floor of the tunnel (which makes it really fun going down - I just couldn't make myself swing out onto the ladder (with no true handholds above it on the rock wall) and ended up lowering myself down between the ladder and the tunnel). The tunnel (a natural tunnel that was widened) is narrow and short and only about 60 feet long - take your backpack off and carry it ahead or behind you as you duck-walk through. Once you get to the end, you have to climb down about 6 feet (with plenty of rocks and foot holds) and then head along the narrow rocky ledge. There is a metal rope along this section of the trail to hang on to. Once that nerve wracking section ends, the trail is easy the rest of the way to the lake (but you are not quite there yet). At the sharp turn of the trail (now you are almost there), first take a right for a view down the valley from the top of Crypt Falls. Back at the corner, go up the small ledge and then head down (short down) to the good sized pretty lake. There is a trail that goes around the lake. I liked resting on the rock area to the left that extends into the lake. On the hike back, you can take the Hells Roaring Canyon route, which re-connects with the Crypt Lake trail a short ways before the boat landing. The Hells Roaring Canyon is a narrow trail with some steep downs (so don't do it if your knees are complaining) that will add about 15 minutes to your hike. It goes along a narrow canyon without too many views down in to it [not really worth it, but it is only 15 minutes extra]. There are some nice views near the end as it goes along Middle Waterton Lake. Trail Length + Elevation: 5.5 miles one-way, +2300 feet Area: Mountains, mountain lakes, waterfalls Picture When I did the hike: Monday, August 9, 2004 Recommendation: It is a pretty lake, but you have to be willing to endure the nerve-wracking section of the hike to do this hike.