Area closure - limited backcountry closure due to extreme fire hazard.

Waterton Lakes National Park has 200 kilometres (120 miles) of hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous wilderness hikes. Waterton is a particularly good place to enjoy a variety of shorter trails which can be easily completed in a few hours or a day. While appealing backcountry campgrounds are available, few trails require an overnight stay.

Use our map of Waterton Lakes National Park to help plan your trip

The backcountry trails in Waterton Lakes National Park can also be used to access hiking trails in Glacier National Park (Montana, U.S.A.) and Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in British Columbia.

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

The trail guide below will help you to select a hike that is suitable for everyone in your party. The time required to complete a hike will depend on conditions, ability and the speed at which your party chooses to travel.

Short hikes and walks
Short hikes and walks
Trail Trailhead Distance (return) Time (return) Elevation gain
Townsite Several points in Townsite 3.2 km loop 1 hour minimal
Prince of Wales Emerald Bay 2 km loop 45 mins minimal
Linnet Lake (accessible) Dock area across from Parks Canada operations buildings 1 km loop 20 mins minimal
Cameron Lakeshore Cameron Lake 3.2 km 1 hour minimal
Akamina Lake Cameron Lake 1 km 30 mins minimal
Red Rock Canyon (hardened surface) Red Rock Canyon 0.7 km loop 20 mins minimal
Blakiston Falls Red Rock Canyon 2 km 45 mins minimal
Crandell Lake Red Rock Parkway 4 km 1.5 hours 150 m
Crandell Lake Akamina Parkway 2.4 km 1 hour 100 m
Belly River Belly River Campground 5.8 km 2 hours minimal
Lower Bertha Falls Townsite 5.6 km 1.5 hours 150 m
Bear's Hump Visitor centre. *There are a limited number of parking spaces at the visitor centre parking lot. Additional parking is available at Linnet Lake, Emerald Bay and Parks Canada compound (weekends only). 2.8 km 1 hour 200 m
Half-day hikes
Half-day hikes
Trail Trailhead Distance (return) Time (return) Elevation gain
Forum Lake, B.C. Akamina Parkway 8 km 3 hours 300 m
Wall Lake, B.C. Akamina Parkway 11.2 km 4 hours 165 m
Summit Lake Cameron Lake 8 km 3 hours 305 m
Lineham Falls Akamina Parkway 8.4 km 3.5 hours 200 m
Lower Rowe Lake Akamina Parkway 8 km 3 hours 250 m
Rowe Meadow Akamina Parkway 10.4 km 4 hours 350 m
Upper Rowe Lake Akamina Parkway 12.6 km 5 hours 500 m
Bertha Lake Townsite 11.4 km 4.5 hours 500 m
Snowshoe Red Rock Canyon 16.4 km 5 hours 150 m
Goat Lake Red Rock Canyon 12.6 km 5 hours 400 m
Full-day hikes
Full-day hikes
Trail Trailhead Distance (return) Time (return) Elevation gain
Lakeshore Trail Waterton Townsite (can return by boat) 13 km (one way) 3-4 hours 125 m
Horseshoe Basin Bison Paddock 21.3 km 5-7 hours 350 m
Wishbone Chief Mountain Highway 21 km 6-8 hours 50 m
Crandell Loop Access from Akamina Parkway and Red Rock Parkway 20.6 km 6-7 hours 200 m
Crypt Lake Crypt Landing 17.2 km 6-8 hours 700 m
Carthew-Alderson (requires transportation to, or back to, trailhead) Cameron Lake or Cameron falls 18 km (one way) 6-8 hours 650 m
Blakiston Valley Red Rock Canyon 20.2 km 5-7 hours 350 m
Twin Lakes Red Rock Canyon 22.8 km 7-9 hours 300 m
Multi-day hike
Multi-day hike
Trail Trailhead Distance (return) Time (return) Elevation gain
Tamarack Trail Akamina Parkway or Red Rock Canyon (requires transportation to, or back to, trailhead) 31.6 km 2 days 600 m

Be prepared

Hikers need to take individual responsibility for planning their trips and hiking safely. Before setting out on your hike, check current trail conditions and any trail cautions or closures. You will increase your odds of a safe hike, decrease your disturbance to park wildlife, and lessen damage to resources.

Guided hikes

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

Safety and etiquette

Leave no trace

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

  • Know and respect park regulations and the inherent risks of backcountry travel.
  • Select terrain, distances, and elevation changes that are compatible with everyone in your group.
  • Pack adequate food, clothing, maps and equipment.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces

  • Stay on maintained trails whenever possible. Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when muddy.
  • Short-cutting switchbacks is destructive and illegal.
  • When travelling off trail, walk abreast and choose the most durable surfaces available: rock, snow, dry grasses or gravel.

Dispose of waste properly

  • Pack out all garbage, never leave or bury food or garbage.
  • Use pit toilets when available, for both urine and solid human waste.
  • In lieu of pit toilets, deposit solid human waste in a hole 15 cm deep, at least 75 m from any water source. Fill the hole with soil and organic matter. Pack out your toilet paper.
  • Urinate on any durable surfaces to reduce vegetation damage from salt-craving wildlife.

Leave what you find

  • Treat our natural heritage with respect and leave for others to enjoy. All natural and cultural resources are protected by law.
  • Do not make alterations to campsites or natural features.
  • Avoid impacting rehabilitated or closed areas.

Minimize campfire impacts

  • Fire are restricted to designated fire pits only.
  • When permitted, keep fires small and totally contained within the firepit.
  • Collect down and dead wood only (size of wrist).
  • Use a gas stove for cooking.

Respect wildlife

  • Bear safety
  • Enjoy wildlife at a distance. Never feed, disturb or intentionally approach wildlife.
  • Travel in groups and make noise to avoid surprise encounters.
  • Keep pets on a leash. Your pet may return to you with wildlife in pursuit.

Be considerate of other visitors

  • Many people come to the outdoors to listen to nature. Excessive noise, unleashed pets and damaged surroundings take away from everyone's experience.

More about hazards and safety in Waterton Lakes National Park.