Mountain Escape - Carthew Ridge, Waterton Lakes

Early morning view

Carthew Ridge (out and back)     10 miles      748m elevation gain     Approx 6 hours

We sneaked in a late season trip to Waterton at the weekend.  Weather and trail reports were variable, 'snow at higher elevations' (how deep? where?) so really we had no idea how much hiking we could realistically manage.  Akamina Ridge was the premium route in mind but the snowy peaks discouraged us from a potentially windy ridge hike.

Akamina Parkway and Red Rock Canyon roads are open to Oct 31, huge bonus for hiking.

We chose the Carthew Alderson trail as it offered up some options.  The starting point is lovely Cameron Lake, I have never seen it so quiet.  We are usually here in winter and sometimes snowshoe the closed road.  Parking right there and heading out further was quite exciting for me.

Cameron left, pointing to Summit Lake, destination ridge to the right

Trail welcome from a grouse (on the right)

 The trail was snow free, wind free and green all the way to the Summit Lake approach (275 m gain).

Although it was cloudy it really wasn't cold at all.  The frozen skiffs on the surface of Summit had melted by the time we passed on the return leg.

As we climbed (another 475m to the high point) the snow increased to about a foot deep.  Our trail followed along the treeline then switchbacked up to Carthew Ridge.

Oh and there we have the wind.  If you look to the left by the trees you can see the switchbacks below.  It was a bit hair raising as the trail was narrow with quite a dropoff.  Little snow clots from our footsteps would tumble down in a distracting manner.

Looking north

We couldn't hang around for long up there, it was extremely windy and there wasn't any shelter.

Looking south

It was a hard landscape to photograph, bright snow and dull sky.  I enhanced this one to show these clear deep lakes in Montana as it was very hard to capture how they actually looked.  This was our view from the end point of the ridge.

The return trip was very pleasant, we passed our first people of the day, only 4 of them.  The car park was a bit busier.

The sun came out as we descended so we drove to the Prince of Wales hotel for the view back toward town.  It was perfectly still.  The far peaks are in Montana.  I could barely get out the car as my Achilles seized up, I should do something about that.

The next day we woke up to snow/hail and strong winds battering the windows.


  1. Gorgeous pictures! I've never been down that way before

    1. Hi Leigh :) It's a great alternative to Banff if you like less crowds, only 2 hotels open in winter! I love it.

  2. Replies
    1. It's an awesome area, I hope you make it back down next year (with less snow).


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