Hiking

Waterton Lakes National Park

There's over 200 kms of trails to explore in Waterton Lakes National Park. Short walks, day hikes even a multi-day trek are all available for you to explore.

The Bertha trailhead is in an avalanche path. Check the Bertha-Townsite avalanche advisory (updated daily) before accessing the area.

Short hikes and walks

Waterton Lakes National Park is a great place for short hikes and strolls

Day hikes

Waterton Lakes National Park has over 200 kilometres of trails offering great day hikes

Multi-day hikes

Information on hiking and backcountry camping adventures in Waterton Lakes National Park.

Trail conditions

Find current trail conditions at Waterton Lakes National Park

Seasonal road closures: Akamina Parkway is open to motor vehicles to Little Prairie day use area. Red Rock Parkway is closed to all motor vehicle traffic.

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. Make sure you have the knowledge, equipment and supplies to have a safe and enjoyable hike. Use the information below or stop by our visitor centre in the Waterton townsite.

Create your own experience - we'll take care of the scenery!

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.

Around town

Trail Distance (return) Time
 Kootenai Brown 13.8 km (8.6 mi) 0.5 to 2 hours
 Linnet Lake Loop 1 km (0.6 mi) 20 minutes
 Prince of Wales Loop 2 km (1.2 mi) 45 minutes
 Townsite Loop 3.2 km (2 mi) 1 hour
 Bear's Hump 2.8 km / 1.8 mi (return) 1 hour
 Crandell Lake (from townsite) 12.4 km (7.7 mi) 4 hours
 Lower Bertha Falls 5.2 km (3.2 mi) 1.5 hours
 Lakeshore 13 km (8 mi), one way 4 hours
 Alderson-Carthew 20.1 km (12.5 mi), one way 8 hours
 Bertha Lake 10.4 km (6.4 mi) 4.5 hours
 Crypt Lake 17.2 km (10.7 mi) 6 hours

Akamina Parkway

Trail Distance (return) Time
 Akamina Lake 1 km (0.6 mi) 30 minutes
 Cameron Lakeshore 3 km (1.9 mi) 1 hour
 Crandell Lake (from Akamina Parkway) 3.6 km (2.2 mi) 1 hour
 Akamina Pass 3 km (1.9 mi) 1 hour
 Boundary Creek 13.1 km (8.1 mi), one way (Summit Lake to Boundary Bay) 4 hours
 Lineham Creek 8.4 km (5.2 mi) 3 hours
 Lower Rowe Lake 8 km (5 mi) 3 hours
 Upper Rowe Lake 12.8 km (8 mi) 5 hours
 Summit Lake 8.6 km / 5.3 mi (one way) 3 hours
 Carthew-Alderson 20.1 km (12.5 mi), one way 8 hours
 Tamarack (Akamina to Red Rock Parkway) 32 to 36 km (20 to 23 mi) 2 to 3 days

Red Rock Parkway

Trail Distance (return) Time
 Blakiston Falls 2 km (1.2 mi) 45 minutes
 Crandell Lake (from Red Rock Parkway) 6.8 km (4.2 mi) 1.25 hours
 Red Rock Canyon Loop 0.7 km (0.4 mi) 20 minutes
 Bellevue 7.6 km (4.7 mi) 2.5 hours
 Blakiston Valley 20.2 km (12.5 mi) 7 hours
 Lost Lake 20.8 km / 10.2 mi (return) 8 hours
 Snowshoe 16.4 km / 12.9 mi 5 hours
 Avion Ridge 25 km / 15.5 mi 10 hours
 Goat Lake 14 km (8.7 mi) 5 hours
 Lone Lake 28 km / 17.4 mi (return) 2 days
 Twin Lakes 22.8 km (14.1 mi) 9 hours

Eastern areas / Highway 6

Trail Distance (return) Time
 Horseshoe Basin 21.3 km (13 mi) 7 hours
 Wishbone 13.4 km (8.3 mi) to Vimy Junction (return), 14 km to Crypt Landing (one way) 4 hours
 Vimy 26.2 km (13 mi) 10 hours

Trail ratings

 

Easy

  • Suitable for those with little or no trail experience.
  • Flat to gently rolling with no obstacles.
  • Little or no elevation gain or loss.

Moderate

  • Suitable for those with basic trail experience.
  • Gently rolling with short, steep sections and infrequent obstacles.
  • Moderate elevation gain or loss.

Difficult

  • Suitable only for those with trail experience.
  • Long, steep sections with frequent obstacles.
  • Major elevation gain or loss.

Guided hikes

Take a free guided hike with a Parks Canada interpreter (from June through September).

Interpretive trails

Our interpretive trails include information panels that tell a story about the park - the plants, wildlife and people that have shaped the area.

There are four trails with interpretive panels in Waterton Lakes National Park:

Top tips to respect wildlife and stay safe

The chance to observe wildlife as they go about their natural lives is a fascinating experience. With this privilege comes the responsibility to treat wildlife with the respect they need and deserve.

Play, Clean, Go
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.


Staying safe

Be prepared

Hikers need to take individual responsibility for planning their trips and hiking safely. Even short trips from the Waterton townsite can have serious consequences. Minimize your risk by planning ahead.

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.
  • Consult our list of current infrastructure projects for potential impacts to your trip.
  • Be prepared for emergencies and changes in weather.
  • 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 (call 911).
  • Travel with a friend or group.
  • Ticks carrying Lyme disease may be present in the park. It is important to check yourself and your pet after hiking.
Kenow Wildfire

Areas affected by the Kenow Wildfire may have increased hazards. These hazards may be triggered at any time with little or no warning.

Snowy and icy trails

Snow can remain on some trails until early summer. Travel through hard snow and ice can be unsafe. Be prepared and check trail conditions before heading out.

Avalanche risk

Much of the mountain area within Waterton Lakes National Park is avalanche terrain. Until late June, trails may be subject to avalanche hazard.

For more information about safety while enjoying Waterton Lakes National Park, see our visitor safety section.

Recommended packing list

  • Trail guide and map
  • Full water bottle or thermos
  • High energy food
  • Bear spray
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • First aid kit
  • Headlamp or flashlight with spare batteries
  • Hat and gloves
  • Hiking poles
  • Rain/wind jacket
  • Extra warm clothing in case of an emergency
  • Cell phone or satellite emergency communication device.

Hiking etiquette

Our trails are shared by different types of users. Please be considerate of others and stay to the right of the trail to allow others to pass. As a best practice, hikers should yield to horseback riders, and cyclists should yield to both hikers and horseback riders.

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

Hiking in bear country

Waterton Lakes National Park is home to both grizzly and black bears, and other wildlife including elk, wolves and cougars. Although the chances of having an encounter with an aggressive bear are low, proper planning before you head out can help reduce your risk.

Hiking in bear country requires some extra precautions when it comes to staying safe, for both you and the bears.

Hiking with pets

Dogs are welcomed on trails in Waterton Lakes National Park, but only if they are kept on leash and under control at all times. Staying on-leash is important, not just for your dog’s safety but for the safety and preservation of many of the park's wildlife species. Please stay safe and respect this rule. And, of course, always scoop that poop and dispose of it responsibly!

Overnight backpacking

Waterton Lakes National Park offers good opportunities for wilderness recreation. See our Backcountry camping section for information on travelling and staying overnight in the backcountry.


24-hour emergency

In case of emergency, call 911 (state that you are calling from Waterton Lakes National Park). Cell phones are not always reliable in the backcountry.

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