Areas of Waterton Lakes National Park remain closed due to safety hazards and infrastructure damage from the Kenow Wildfire. Visit our What's open in 2018 page for an up-to-date list of open areas.
Waterton Lakes National Park has 200 kilometres (120 miles) of hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous wilderness hikes. Waterton is a particularly good place to enjoy a variety of shorter trails which can be easily completed in a few hours or a day.
When to go
Prime hiking season runs July through mid-September. Until late June, many trails are still snow-bound and may be subject to avalanche hazard. Trails tend to be muddier at this time and the best hiking is at lower elevations or on drier, south facing slopes. By the middle of July, most alpine passes are snow free.
Where to go
Visitor safety is a priority for Parks Canada. Backcountry travel always comes with inherent risks and areas affected by the Kenow Wildfire may have increased hazards. Visitors should be aware of their surroundings and prepared with the appropriate equipment during backcountry travel.
For more information to plan a safe and enjoyable experience, please see our visitor safety web pages.
Crandell Mountain Campground, Bear’s Hump Trail, Akamina Parkway, Cameron Lake Day-Use Area, Red Rock Parkway from Coppermine Creek to Red Rock Canyon, and recreational opportunities associated with these areas remain closed at this time. It is too early to provide a timeline for when these areas will re-open. To ensure safety, please respect all area closures. Entering a closed area can result in a fine.
Trails open in 2018
|Kootenai Brown||Highway 5||Open.|
|Linnett Lake loop||Highway 5||Open.|
|Prince of Wales hill||Highway 5||Open.|
|Townsite loop||Highway 5 and various locations in townsite||Open along lakeshore only. Detour at the marina.|
|Lakeshore (Waterton townsite to Canada-U.S.A. border)||Townsite||Open.|
|Bellevue||Non-motorized access to trailhead via Red Rock Parkway||Open.|
|Bertha Falls (lower) and Bertha Lake||Townsite||Open.|
|Crandell Lake loop||Townsite / Red Rock Parkway||Open.|
|Horseshoe Basin / Oil Basin||Highway 6||Open.|
|Vimy Ridge (from Wishbone junction)||Highway 6||Open.|
See our complete list of closed trails
Hikers need to take individual responsibility for planning their trips and hiking safely. Before setting out on your hike, check current trail conditions and any trail cautions or closures. You will increase your odds of a safe hike, decrease your disturbance to park wildlife, and lessen damage to resources.
Take a free guided hike with a Parks Canada interpreter (from June through September).
Safety and etiquette
Leave no trace
Parks Canada encourages visitors who are planning to travel in the backcountry to practice "Leave No Trace" skills and ethics. "Leave No Trace" is a national program that promotes and inspires responsible outdoor recreation and stewardship of public lands. The program depends more on attitude and awareness than on rules and regulations. The time you spend in the backcountry can be safer and more rewarding if you strive to "Leave No Trace" of your visit on the resources, or on the experiences of other visitors.
Please practice the following seven principles of Leave No Trace:
Plan ahead and prepare
- Know and respect park regulations and the inherent risks of backcountry travel.
- Select terrain, distances, and elevation changes that are compatible with everyone in your group.
- Pack adequate food, clothing, maps and equipment.
Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Stay on maintained trails whenever possible. Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when muddy.
- Short-cutting switchbacks is destructive and illegal.
- When travelling off trail, walk abreast and choose the most durable surfaces available: rock, snow, dry grasses or gravel.
Dispose of waste properly
- Pack out all garbage, never leave or bury food or garbage.
- Use pit toilets when available, for both urine and solid human waste.
- In lieu of pit toilets, deposit solid human waste in a hole 15 cm deep, at least 75 m from any water source. Fill the hole with soil and organic matter. Pack out your toilet paper.
- Urinate on any durable surfaces to reduce vegetation damage from salt-craving wildlife.
Leave what you find
- Treat our natural heritage with respect and leave for others to enjoy. All natural and cultural resources are protected by law.
- Do not make alterations to campsites or natural features.
- Avoid impacting rehabilitated or closed areas.
Minimize campfire impacts
- Fire are restricted to designated fire pits only.
- When permitted, keep fires small and totally contained within the firepit.
- Collect down and dead wood only (size of wrist).
- Use a gas stove for cooking.
- Bear safety
- Enjoy wildlife at a distance. Never feed, disturb or intentionally approach wildlife.
- Travel in groups and make noise to avoid surprise encounters.
- Keep pets on a leash. Your pet may return to you with wildlife in pursuit.
Be considerate of other visitors
- Many people come to the outdoors to listen to nature. Excessive noise, unleashed pets and damaged surroundings take away from everyone's experience.
More about hazards and safety in Waterton Lakes National Park.