Waterton Lakes National Park

Alberta Canada

Hiking Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park is located in the southwest corner of Alberta, Canada and borders Glacier National Park in Montana, USA.

The two parks together make up the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

There are about 120 miles of hiking trails in Waterton Lakes National Park.

But our absolute favorite is Carthew Pass. We have hiked this trail three times.

The Carthew Pass Trail in Waterton National Park is all about spectacular mountain scenery. There are majestic lakes, glacier views, waterfalls and wildflowers in season. It is a moderately difficult hike overall from the start at Cameron Lake to the finish at Waterton Village.

Hike to the summit at Cathew Pass (7800 ft-2377 m). The wind swept pass overlooks the stunning Carthew Lakes. A gradual descent meanders past Alderson Lake with a finish through forest and a steep gorge with the dramatic Cameron Waterfall. Yes, Carthew Pass trail has it all!

It is an 11.8 mile (19 km) trail that gains 2,135 ft  and drops 3,330 ft! It could easily take 8 hours to complete and it does require a shuttle. The finish point at Waterton Village is, however, a convenient place to hire a shuttle service if needed.



The Carthew Pass Trail begins at stunning Cameron Lake.

The trail is well signed at important points along the route.

It begins by climbing through open forest.

In spring and summer, there will be wildflowers.


Waterton Lakes National Park-Carthew Pass Trail
Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass-Mule Deer
Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass-Moose
Waterton Lakes National Park-Cameron Lake
Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass-wildflowers
Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass
Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass

The trail ascends through open forest. After a marked junction where Carthew Pass is to the left, more climbing continues until the forest thins and the real views begin.

The hike follows the contours of a stunning basin.

There are glacial and lake views behind as you ascend.

Each step augments the views as the trail circles round this beautiful basin.

Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass

Carthew Pass itself is mostly barren.

It can be extremely windy, but we lucked out with a picture perfect blue sky day.

The views fan out in all directions.

After Carthew Pass, it is all downhill to Waterton Village. 

But, more beautiful scenery comes after the pass.

On the descent, the magical Carthew Lakes begin to appear in the distance.

Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass

Carthew Lakes

Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass -Alderson Lake

It’s a short hike past Carthew Lakes to the cliff surrounded Alderson Lake.

It is quite probably you will see marmots in the cliffs…

…and big horn sheep as well.

Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass Marmot
Waterton Lakes-Carthew Pass-Sheep

After Alderson Lake, it is about 4 miles to Waterton Village.

Much of the trail enters forest.

Close to the end is the pretty Cameron Waterfall.

Waterton Lakes-Cameron Waterfall
Waterton Lakes-Cameron Waterfall

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