Areas of Waterton Lakes National Park remain closed due to safety hazards and infrastructure damage from the Kenow Wildfire. Visit our What's open 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.
The park is a particularly good place to enjoy a variety of shorter trails which can be easily completed in a few hours or a day.
Begin by planning your trip. Use the information here or stop by our visitor centre in the Waterton townsite.
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
Use the trail information below to choose a hike suitable for everyone in your party.
Visitors should be aware that the trail distances listed below are from the trailheads. When considering these hikes, please factor in the distance from the Red Rock Parkway gate to the respective trailhead (the Akamina Parkway is currently closed from the Entrance Road to Crandell Lake trailhead. Access to the trails on Akamina Parkway is from the Red Rock Parkway and Crandell Lake Trail).
The Red Rock Parkway and Akamina Parkway are closed to motorized use. The best way to visit the trails on the Red Rock and Akamina parkways is by bicycle.
Distances from Red Rock Parkway gate to trailhead (round trip):
- Bellevue: 6 km (3.8 mi)
- Crandell Lake: 17.8 km (11 mi)
- Red Rock Canyon loop: 28.2 km (17.4)
- Blakiston Falls: 28.2 km (17.4 mi)
- Blakiston Valley: 28.2 km (17.4 mi)
- Snowshoe: 28.2 km (17.4 mi)
- Lineham Creek via Red Rock Parkway, Crandell Lake and Akamina Parkway: 25 km (15.4 mi)
- Rowe Lakes via Red Rock Parkway, Crandell Lake and Akamina Parkway: 28 km (17.2 mi)
- Cameron Lake via Red Rock Parkway, Crandell Lake and Akamina Parkway: 40 km (24.8 mi)
Short hikes and walks
|Estimated time (return)||
|Trail description||Level of difficulty|
|Townsite loop||Open||3.2 km / 2 mi||1 hour||Minimal||Paved path beside Upper Waterton Lake||Easy|
|Prince of Wales loop||Open||2 km / 1.2 mi||45 minutes||Minimal||Loop around the hill below the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel National Historic Site, with views of Upper and Middle Waterton lakes||Easy|
|Linnet Lake loop||Open||1 km / 0.6 mi||20 minutes||Minimal||A short stroll on a paved path around a small lake, named for a small bird called a linnet||Easy|
|Kootenai Brown Trail||Open||13.8 km / 8.6 mi||0.5 to 2 hours||Minimal||Paved cycling/walking path that follows the length of the entrance road. Great views of lakes, prairie and mountains||Easy|
|Cameron Lakeshore||Open||3 km / 1.9 mi||1 hour||Minimal||A walk along a scenic subalpine lake with views south to a lush headwall in Glacier National Park, U.S. 15.4 km (9.6 mi) to trailhead from Akamina Parkway gate||Easy|
|Akamina Lake||Open||1 km / 0.6 mi||30 minutes||Minimal||A short stroll to a sheltered subalpine lake. 15.4 km (9.6 mi) to trailhead from Akamina Parkway gate||Easy|
|Red Rock Canyon Loop||Open (upper bridge closed)||0.7 km / 0.4 mi||20 minutes||Minimal||A paved trail around and across a colourful canyon with red, white and green rock||Easy|
|Blakiston Falls||Open||2 km / 1.2 mi||45 minutes||Minimal||A short walk from Red Rock Canyon leads to a waterfall with view points||Easy|
|Bear's Hump||Closed||2.8 km / 1.8 mi||1 hour||225 m / 738 ft||This short, but very steep trail takes you to a bluff on the side of Mount Crandell, known to the Blackfoot as Bear Mountain. Views from the top are spectacular, including the Townsite, the Waterton Valley and lakes, south into Glacier National Park (U.S.) and northeast to prairie ranch land||Moderate|
|Crandell Lake (from Red Rock Parkway)||Open||4 km / 2.4 mi||1.25 hours||125 m / 410 ft||A great family hike with a steady uphill slope along a former cart track to a beautiful lake. 8.9 km (5.5 mi) to trailhead from Red Rock Parkway gate||Moderate|
|Crandell Lake (from Akamina Parkway)||Closed. Crandell Lake accessible via Red Rock Parkway.||3.6 km / 2.2 mi||1 hour||75 m / 246 ft||A great family hike with a steady uphill slope to a beautiful lake. 6.7 km (4.2 mi) to trailhead from Akamina Parkway gate||Moderate|
|Bertha - Lower Bertha Falls||Open||5.2 km / 3.2 mi||1.5 hours||175 m / 574 ft||There are several options on this hike. It starts with a moderate climb to a viewpoint overlooking Upper Waterton Lake. From there you can choose to head south along the lake to Bertha Bay, Boundary Bay and into Glacier National Park (U.S.). Another option is to follow the creek to a cascading “bridal veil” waterfall (Lower Bertha Falls). From there you can continue up steep switchbacks, past brief views of Upper Bertha Falls and on to Bertha Lake.||Moderate|
|Bellevue||Open||7.4 km / 4.6 mi||2.5 hours||Minimal||A prairie walk below Bellevue Hill with spectacular spring and summer wildflowers. A great way to experience where the mountains and prairie meet. 3 km / 1.9 mi to trailhead from Red Rock Parkway gate||Moderate|
|Estimated time (return)||
|Trail description||Level of difficulty|
|Akamina Pass (access to Wall Lake and Forum Lake)||Open||3 km / 1.9 mi||1 hour||123 m / 404 ft||Akamina Pass is a wide trail with steep sections which leads to the boundary of British Columbia and the Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park. Continuing into the provincial park gives access to Wall and Forum lakes, each surrounded by their own set of sheer rock walls. A short side trip from the Forum Lake trail will lead you to Forum Falls. 14.3 km (8.9 mi) to trailhead from Akamina Parkway gate. Trail closed at B.C. border||Moderate|
|Forum Lake, B.C. (via Akamina Pass)||Closed||8.8 km / 5.5 mi||3 hours||350 m / 1148 ft||Impressive rock wall surrounds lake in B.C. provincial park. Trail closed at B.C. border||Moderate|
|Wall Lake, B.C. (via Akamina Pass)||Closed||10.4 km / 6.5 mi||3.5 hours||110 m / 361 ft||Popular alpine lake in B.C. provincial park. Trail closed at B.C. border||Moderate|
|Lineham||Open||8.4 km / 5.2 mi||3 hours||350 m / 1148 ft||Steady uphill hike to a viewpoint below a stunning 250 m/410 ft. high waterfall. Excellent views of Mount Lineham and Mount Blakiston, the highest peak in the park. 9 km (5.6 mi) to trailhead from Akamina Parkway gate||Moderate|
|Lower Rowe Lake (access to Tamarack)||Open||8 km / 5 mi||3 hours||350 m / 1148 ft||The trail starts along Rowe Creek as it tumbles over mossy ledges and bright red argillite rocks. Walk through forests and along open slopes to a junction and short path off the main trail to Lower Rowe Lake. 10.4 km (6.5 mi) to trailhead from Akamina Parkway gate||Moderate|
|Upper Rowe Lake (access to Tamarack)||Open||12.8 km / 8 mi||5 hours||575 m / 1886 ft||Continue from the junction to the wildflowers and stream at Rowe Meadow and then up steep switchbacks to Upper Rowe Lakes. At Rowe Meadow another set of steep switchbacks leads north onto the ridge above the sparkling chain of Lineham Lakes and beyond, to Lone Lake, the Blakiston Valley, Twin Lakes and a long trek to Snowshoe and Red Rock Canyon. 10.4 km (6.5 mi) to trailhead from Akamina Parkway gate||Moderate|
|Bertha (access to Bertha Falls, Bertha Lake, Bertha Bay, Boundary Bay, Goat Haunt, U.S.)||Open||2.6 km/1.6 mi. to falls; 5.2 km/3.2 mi. to lake; 13 km/8 mi. to Goat Haunt (all one way)||4.5 hours||460 m / 1509 ft||There are several options on this hike. It starts with a moderate climb to a viewpoint overlooking Upper Waterton Lake. From there you can choose to head south along the lake to Bertha Bay, Boundary Bay and into Glacier National Park in the U.S. (Lakeshore Trail). Another option is to follow the creek to Lower Bertha Falls. From there you can continue up steep switchbacks, past brief views of Upper Bertha Falls and on to Bertha Lake. The lake is surrounded by a walking path below magnificent peaks and cliffs.||Moderate|
|Bertha - Lakeshore||Open||13 km / 8 mi (one way)||4 hours||125 m / 410 ft||Trail along Upper Waterton Lake to Bertha Bay, Boundary Bay and into Glacier National Park in the U.S. (please ensure you have the made the proper arrangements and have appropriate documentation to enter the USA). Requires return boat trip from Goat Haunt or return hike||Moderate|
|Snowshoe (access to Goat Lake, Lost Lake, Twin Lakes, Castle Divide, Avion Ridge, Lone Lake, Sage Pass)||Open||16.4 km / 10.2 mi||5 hours||150 m / 492 ft||Formerly a fire road, this trail is suitable for cycling, horseback riding or hiking. Along Snowshoe trail is a junction with the steep path climbing to Goat Lake and one of two access points to bright red Avion Ridge. At Snowshoe backcountry campground there are further hiking options. A short uphill climb will take you to secluded Lost Lake or to Castle Divide at the edge of Alberta’s Castle Wildland Provincial Park and on to Castle Provincial Park. This is also the second access point to Avion Ridge. Another trail leading from Snowshoe heads toward Twin Lakes, the Blakiston Valley Trail, Lone Lake and beyond to the Tamarack Trail and Rowe Lakes. Routes to Sage Pass and South Kootenay Pass are found along the way.||Easy|
|Horseshoe (access to Horseshoe Basin, Oil Basin and Park Line)||Open||21.3 km / 13 mi||7 hours||350 m / 1148 ft||Popular trail riding area and great early season walk through meadows with abundant spring and summer wildflowers. Steady ascent through mostly open terrain over the col between Lakeview Ridge and Mount Galway. The trail continues to Oil Basin and near the cut line along the park boundary. Hikers should use caution as the trail becomes indistinct in many places approaching and along the park line.||Moderate|
|Blakiston Valley (access to Blakiston Falls, Lone Lake, Twin Lakes, Tamarack trail, South Kootenay Pass)||Open||20.2 km / 12.5 mi||7 hours||350 m / 1148 ft||Hiking and horseback trail along Blakiston Creek to junction. From there head north to Lone Lake, Twin Lakes and Snowshoe trail, south to Tamarack trail and Rowe Lakes or continue on to South Kootenay Pass and access to Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in B.C.||Moderate|
|Wishbone/Vimy||Open||21 km / 13 mi||8 hours||Minimal||A wide trail leads through forests of aspen and birch, crosses streams and traverses some wide stretches of open prairie. The terrain steepens and is more forested just before reaching the junction with the Vimy Trail. Stay right to continue along to Wishbone Landing on the shore of Middle Waterton Lake. The trail to the left climbs steeply to the end of the Vimy trail and crosses montane and subalpine forests of fir and larch. Please note that the final kilometre from the end of the trail to the summit of Vimy Peak requires a scramble and route finding in steep terrain with loose rock and short cliff bands||Difficult|
|Crypt Lake||Open||17.2 km / 10.7 mi||6 hours||675 m / 2214 ft||Be prepared for a varied all day hike with spectacular mountain views, several waterfalls, climbs along steep slopes, and a tight tunnel opening onto a narrow ledge above a cliff. A 20 minute side trip off the main trail provides views of Hell Roaring Falls and a steep canyon below. Be sure to keep track of your progress in order to make it back on time for the return water taxi to the Townsite||Difficult|
|Summit/Carthew-Alderson (access to Summit Lake, the Summit, Carthew Lakes, Alderson Lake, Boundary Creek)||Closed (section from Cameron Lake to Summit Lake is open)||20.1 km / 12.5 mi (one way)||8 hours (one way)||650 m / 2132 ft||A series of switchbacks lessen the grade to reach Summit Lake, where the trail levels off for a time to once again switchback to the summit. Here there are spectacular views of the Carthew Lakes, the Waterton Valley and prairies in the distance. The trail descends along a scree slope to the scree and shrubs along Carthew Lakes, then down steeper terrain to Alderson Lake nestled among the tall cliffs of Mount Alderson. From there it is a steady descent to Cameron Falls in the Townsite. 15.4 km (9.6 mi) to trailhead from Akamina Parkway gate||Difficult|
|Alderson-Carthew/Summit (access to Summit Lake, the Summit, Carthew Lakes, Alderson Lake, Boundary Creek)||Closed||20.1 km / 12.5 mi (one way)||8 hours (one way)||1,023 m / 3,356 ft.||A steady, moderate climb from Cameron Falls to Alderson Lake below towering cliffs of Mount Alderson, then ascend steep switchbacks to alternating shale and shrubs surrounding the Carthew Lakes. A steady climb gives way to steeper trail along the slope leading to the summit where you can gaze back at the Carthew Lakes and out to the Waterton Valley and prairie in the distance. Switchbacks lead down to Summit Lake and onwards to the trail’s end, complete with stunning views of Cameron Lake.||Difficult|
|Boundary Creek||Closed||14.6 km / 9 mi (one way)||4 hours (one way)||600 m / 1,968 ft.||Trail goes from Summit Lake to Lakeshore trail, joining at Boundary Bay. Crosses the Canada-USA border.||Moderate|
|Estimated time (return)||
|Trail description||Level of difficulty|
|Tamarack Trail||Closed between Lone Lake and Lineham Ridge||32 to 36 km / 20 to 23 mi||2 to 3 days||Varies with route selection||Scenic hike along the Continental Divide. Access to Lone Lake. May require car shuttle||Difficult|
Play, Clean, Go
Waterton’s vulnerability to the spread of invasive plant species has increased as a result of the Kenow Wildfire. Visitors can help protect the landscape by remembering to Play Clean Go when hiking in the park.
Hikers need to take individual responsibility for planning their trips and hiking safely. Parks Canada provides information to help people understand and assess the risk so that they can make travel decisions. Make sure you have the knowledge, equipment and supplies to have a safe and enjoyable hike.
- Study trail descriptions and maps before starting.
- Check the weather forecast.
- Check current trail conditions and any trail cautions or closures.
- Choose a trail suitable for the least experienced member in your group.
- Pack adequate food, water, clothing, maps and gear.
- Carry a first aid kit and bear spray.
- Tell somebody where you’re going, when you’ll be back and who to call if you don’t return.
- Travel with a friend or group.
- Be prepared for emergencies and changes in weather.
Areas affected by the Kenow Wildfire may have increased hazards that last for several years or longer and may be triggered at any time with little or no warning.
Take a free guided hike with a Parks Canada interpreter (from June through September).
For information about safety while enjoying Waterton Lakes National Park visitor safety
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
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of others