I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Waterton Lakes National Park's Bear's Hump Trail
Waterton Lakes National Park isn't the easiest of the Canadian national parks to get to. But if you are in Waterton and looking for a trail to hike, then the Bear's Hump trail is going to be one of the most obvious ones to choose. This is an uphill trail that's easily accessible just off of the main road to town.
I took this trail in July of 2020 and found that it was a little hard. I also noted a couple of complaints from hikers that were on their way down. There are steep sections and if trail hiking isn't something you do frequently, then you can expect some tough going at times. You are walking uphill right out of the parking lot and that doesn't stop until you get to a scenic viewpoint.
At this viewpoint, you get a nice view of the surrounding mountains and the scenic lakes in this national park. It truly is a trail that is worth the effort. The map below will assist you in finding the trailhead.
Parks Pass Required
As a trail in a Canadian national park, you have to expect a park fee to get past the gates. I've found that the best value is to just purchase an annual pass and use it at several of the national parks for a year. Other national parks in the same greater area of Waterton include Banff, Jasper, Grasslands, Elk Island, Yoho, Glacier, and Kootenay. These are all parks that you can drive to within one travel day.
In the first Youtube video below, I give you a visual idea of what to expect while making your way up the trail. It isn't super wide but I would say that it's wide enough. Also, the gripping for walking/hiking was good on the trail. I don't recall many railings but there were some seating areas placed throughout the trail.
At the time when I visited this park in July 2020, the trees in the immediate vicinity seemed to be dead as they were bare. It was a tough trail for hiking elevation but the path was clear of roots and branches.
The Bear's Hump Trail in Waterton Lakes National Park
Very Windy Conditions on the Bear's Hump Trail Viewpoint
One thing that anyone will mention if they review this trail is the extremely windy conditions that you face. It's not that much of a problem en route to the viewpoint because the mountain itself acts as a protective barrier. However, once you are at the viewpoint you will face more than just a gentle breeze as the terrain is more exposed.
In fact, I think the Bear's Hump Trail in Waterton had the windiest viewpoint that I ever hiked to. You could easily lose your hat and you will certainly want to be careful with your footing. If anything, the top of Ha Ling's Peak had comparable conditions for windiness.
The viewpoint was very rewarding and it was well worth the hike. You get a look at the surrounding mountains and the surrounding lakes. Furthermore, you overlook the town of Waterton itself. If you don't have a lot of time for trail hiking and you want a trail that doesn't take long to drive to, then the Bear's Hump Trail is definitely a promising prospect. I recommend it as a comfortable hike with beautiful scenery.
The Scenery at the End of the Bear's Hump Trail Near Waterton
The Lake Was Very Cold Even in Summer
After hiking, I often like to go swimming. The lake that you saw in the preceding video had a long beach, albeit one that was stony as opposed to sandy. What I found was that I wasn't able to stay in the water very long. Even in the summer heat, this lake doesn't heat up quickly. I am guessing that the water is going to be melted glacier water that's not too far from the source. Whatever the case, I can't recommend this water for anything more than a quick dip.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Shane Lambert