Hidden in the far southwest corner of Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park is a place of superlatives. The park has the highest yearly precipitation of any place in Alberta, and is also one of the province’s windiest places. Because of this unique climate, the Waterton area contains an unusually rich and varied number of plants and animals for its size, many of which are rare or threatened. Upper Waterton Lake, the park’s southernmost lake and one which straddles the Canadian-American border, is the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies and all of Alberta. And above all that, we feel that Waterton Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking of all places in the province.
Join us this summer as we explore this truly unique and stunning landscape over five days, where the most colourful and ancient mountains in the Rockies meet the prairies. After our time here you will truly understand why Waterton is included in the Crown of the Continent!
Day 1: Meet in Canmore and drive to Waterton
The trip starts at the Yamnuska office at 8am with a welcome session and to see that you are properly outfitted. From there the van will drive you down the stunning “Cowboy Trail” which borders the scenic Alberta foothills. The tantalizing views of the Rockies and rolling foothills soon give way to Waterton Lakes National Park. Once we arrive, the group will undertake a short day hike up the deservedly popular “Bears Hump” to stretch our legs. While it is one of Waterton’s shorter hikes, the 240 metres of elevation gain and panoramic view of the Waterton Lakes and town site is sure to take your breath away! Once back at the van, you will check into your hotel in Waterton town site and enjoy one of the many fine restaurants in town.
Day 2: Rowe Lakes & Lineham Ridge
After breakfast together, we head up the Akamina Parkway to visit the Rowe Lakes and Lineham ridge. Rowe Lakes trail ends with three stunning, emerald subalpine lakes with one of the parks best wildflower meadows. If the group is feeling fit and eager, we will continue together up the trail to Lineham ridge, the highest trail in the park and naturally, one with the best views, including Mt. Blakiston, the highest peak in the park. The stunning lakes and red rocks for which Waterton is famous will make this a day not to forget. Total Distance – 17.6 km (10.9 mi), Elevation Gain 950 m (3,115 ft) to Lineham Ridge summit.
Day 3: Crypt Lake
It has been said of the Crypt Lake trail that it has “more tricks and amusements that any trail in the Canadian Rockies” and was previously voted the best hike in all of Canada. It’s easy to see why. We begin our day at the Waterton Marina where we will catch a ferry to transport us across the Upper Waterton Lake to the trailhead. From there we will hike past numerous waterfalls until we arrive at what seems to be a sheer, impenetrable wall. However, there is a narrow, 20 metre long tunnel through the mountain that will shortly deliver us to the stunning Crypt Lake – a deep blue tarn surrounded by 600 metre high cliffs. After we have soaked up the views and soaked our feet for long enough we return the way we came to catch the ferry back to Waterton and a hot meal. Total Distance – 17.4 km (10.8 mi) , Elevation Gain 675 m (2,220 ft).
Day 4: Carthew-Alderson Trail
Today we head back down the Akamina parkway to hike the Carthew-Alderson trail, the most popular one-way hike in the Canadian Rockies. We leave the vehicle at Cameron Lake and immediately start the gradual, well graded switchbacks up to Summit Lake. After re-filling our water bottles at the lake, the views from the trail improve rapidly as Mts. Alderson and Carthew loom before us, as well as vast vistas looking south into Montana’s Glacier National Park. Views are truly stunning from the Carthew-Alderson summit, but hang on to your hat, because Waterton is notoriously one of the windiest places in Alberta, and the wind us sure to be blowing at this unobstructed viewpoint. From the viewpoint we drop into a valley below, eventually passing another three of Waterton’s stunning lakes. The trail continues to wind through the valley before ending at Cameron falls, just minutes south of the Waterton town site. From there it’s but a short walk back to your hotel for a good night’s rest. Total Distance – 20.1 km (12.5 mi), Elevation Gain 650 m (2,135 ft) and Loss 1015 m (3,330 ft).
Day 5: Drive back to Canmore
After a hearty breakfast we’ll drive up the Red Rock Parkway for a short, last stroll in Waterton National Park. The legendary Red Rock Canyon is a short 1 kilometer loop. Here we’ll see up close the red argillite rock that makes Waterton world famous. From there we say goodbye to our small mountain park and drive back to Canmore, for one last meal together and an evening of reminiscing about our time together in the mountains.
Meeting Place and Time
We will meet you in our office in Canmore, AB at 8:00 am on day 1. Our office is located at #200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore, Alberta. For your convenience we offer a shuttle service within Canmore. Please let us know in advance where you will be staying if needing this service. Pick-up will occur between 7:30-7:45 am. Please ensure that you have everything with you.
Accommodation and Meals
We use high standard hotels for this hiking tour. Rooms are shared (double occupancy). No single supplement applies unless you wish to guarantee a single room for yourself in which case a $400 CDN additional charge will be applied to your booking.
All breakfasts are included as are hiking lunches and trail snacks. Dinners are not included so you can explore the many dining options. There are many easily accessible restaurants nearby or in your hotel. Please specify any special dietary requirements you have on your application so we can incorporate them into our lunch menus. A surcharge will apply.
Guides and Group Size
Yamnuska Mountain Adventures is licensed by Parks Canada to conduct hiking tours in the National Parks of the Canadian Rockies.
Your guides are experienced professional hiking guides who live here, in the Canadian Rockies. They are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and from the Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association. Your guide has advanced wilderness first aid training. They will be carrying full emergency gear including a first-aid kit, bear spray and a portable radio. Most importantly, they are chosen for their enthusiasm and interest in sharing their knowledge of these mountains.
The minimum group size will be 3, maximum 8.
Getting to Canmore and Transportation
Canmore is situated 100km (65miles) west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is well served by scheduled bus lines both from Calgary (airport and downtown), Banff (20km west) and points further west. Calgary International Airport is well connected to major cities throughout North America and Europe. Once in Canmore we will supply all transport needed for the trip.
Equipment and Clothing
We supply group equipment, including an emergency communication device, bear spray and a full expedition emergency first-aid kit. You will need to bring personal hiking equipment and clothing. When purchasing gear consider both functionality as well as weight.
What you bring will have a big impact on the quality of your experience. The list below will keep you very comfortable in the field. Make sure you have all your clothing and gear before you arrive, and reserve any rentals with us in advance. Your guide will go through your clothing and gear with you prior to the trip.
When hiking in the mountains, it is important to be able to adjust for the changing conditions. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered to achieve comfort as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. We discourage cotton clothing as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
You will need to bring:
- Wool or fleece hat / toque
- Sunhat – Wide brim or baseball style
- Long underwear top and bottoms – Lightweight synthetic or merino wool
- Socks – Preferably a synthetic / merino wool blend. Bring at least three pairs.
- Light Synthetic Shirt
- Jacket – A midweight synthetic jacket
- Insulated Jacket – synthetic or down jacket
- Waterproof / Breathable Rain Jacket
- Rain Pants – Also waterproof / breathable. Ideally with side zips so they can be put on without taking off your boots.
- Hiking Pants – Preferably windproof and quick drying. No blue jeans or cotton pants.
- Light Gloves / Mitts
You will need to bring:
- Boots – Spend some time walking around in your boots before you arrive for your trip and get used to how they feel. They should have good ankle support and tread, with sturdy soles. Your boots will make or break your holiday so some time getting used to them is time well spent. Ensure they have been waterproofed or have a good waterproof liner material.
- Gaiters – Recommended early & late season. Really help to keep feet dry, keep socks and pants clean from mud and keep debris out of your boots.
- Daypack – This should be between 25 and 40 Liter capacity. In it you will carry your spare clothing, food, water, and other gear you will need for the day. A lightweight packs is recommended.
- Pack Cover – This should be waterproof and large enough to cover the outside of your pack to keep the contents dry in a rain storm. You can also line the inside of your stuff sacks with plastic bags to keep gear dry.
- Trekking Poles – Must be collapsible.
- Sunglasses – With 100% UV protection and a hardcase.
- Headlamp – With fresh batteries
- Water Bottle / Bladder – 1-2 litre capacity.
- Blister Kit – Moleskin, Second Skin, etc.
- Personal First Aid Kit – Our guide carries a group first aid kit so keep this small. Band Aids, Tylenol/ibuprofen, etc.
- Sun Block & Lip Balm – Extra strength with UV protection.
- Insect repellent
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. A 35% deposit CDN (including GST) is required at time of booking. Final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the trip.
For detailed Booking Instructions and Conditions, click here.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the trip. Click here for waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travelers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the National and provincial Parks, however costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.
Pricing is based on a minimum group size of 3 guests and includes 5 days of hiking with professional guide, 4 nights shared hotel accommodation, 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, transport from local hotel pick up on day 1 to hotel drop off on day 5, National Park entry.
Not included: Evening meals, gratuities for guides & 5% Goods & Services Tax (GST).
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
How difficult is it?
How fit and experienced need you be?
This is a moderate difficulty hiking tour. It involves hiking for up to 7 hours per day with daily distances ranging from 8km to 20km. Elevation gains of up to 950m for some hikes. Participants will be carrying a day pack containing spare clothing, camera, lunch and something to drink each day. Hikes will be chosen to best suit the group.
This program is designed for fit walkers. Any training you can do before you arrive will enhance your experience. No previous mountain hiking is required. We suggest you train by hiking in hilly terrain (use flights of stairs if in the city). We will stay as a group while hiking.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about this hike.