The Carthew-Alderson Trail in Waterton Lakes National Park is ranked among the top 10 hikes to do in Canada. It’s even listed as a world class hike, so you don’t want to miss this one if you’re making your way through Alberta.
It’s 12 miles starting at Cameron Lake and ending up back at the outskirts of the Waterton townsite. We’ve had some iffy weather the 2 times we’ve hiked this. The first time there was a bad forest fire, and the smoke was so thick we could barely see any views on one side of the hike.
The 2nd time we hiked it, the views on the same side were obscured by a snow storm that rolled in, (on Labor Day no less – which is why you always want to be prepared for bad weather in the mountains). Hopefully we’ll get back someday to hike it a 3rd time to see the views we missed. But I have to say the views we did see were beyond gorgeous!
You can take a shuttle to Cameron Lake to the trailhead. And as of now, the shuttle if free and run by the park service, so check their website for the shuttle times and to make a reservation.
After we hit the highest elevation and started down the other side, the sun broke out, and the colors of the lakes and red rock that Waterton is famous for, were extra intense.
It was still really cold, and I was thankful for every single one of my layers. I had warm base layers, plus a down coat with a hood, a wool hat, and a gortex rain jacket for a wind break, and I was perfectly warm. You might notice that I’m not wearing gloves, but be sure and pack some of those along too. I tend not to wear mine since I’m always taking pictures, but they’re nice to have along.
Walking by the shores of all these gorgeous lakes, (you’ll see 4 during the hike not including Cameron Lake) I could just imagine jumping in a slightly warmer day!
We had planned to summit Mount Carthew, but when we got to the saddle and started to ascend, the wind was so strong neither one of us could stand up. So we figured we’d better turn around, coupled with the fact the rain/snow mix had turned to hail that was sleeting sideways, and pelting my face so hard it left marks!
The last part of the trail is mostly downhill, but it does seem like quite a long stretch through the trees. So, once you see the townsite come into view, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing you’re almost there.
The trail ends at Cameron Falls which is just on the edge of the Waterton townsite. From there it’s just a few minutes walk back to the town where you can find camping/hotels, dinner, and a great patio view to relax on!