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The Carthew-Alderson Trail - One of the Best Hikes in Waterton National Park

By touring - Posted on 25 October 2010

The Carthew-Alderson Trail - One of the Best Hikes in Waterton National Park

Waterton Lakes National park (1-403-859-2224) is tucked in the southwest corner of Alberta and has some of the best hikes in Canada. The following entry is a personal account from the expert hiker Rick McCharles of on his trek to complete three amazing hikes within Waterton Park. The journey is locally known as the Triple Crown of Waterton, Alberta and he starts out on the Carthew-Alderson Trail.

Rating – Expert
Distance – Approximately 20 kilometers one-way
Elevation Gain – 650 meters
Duration – 6-8 hours one way
When to Go – Mid-July to Mid-September.
How to get there - Waterton Lakes National Park is 3 hours southwest of Calgary.


"My first two attempts this past summer to hike the Triple Crown: Akamina Ridge, Alderson-Carthew and Crypt Lake... went awry. This was to be my last chance. Snow was threatening. Arriving mid-day, Alderson-Carthew was first on my rushed itinerary.

Unfortunately for me, the shuttle only runs with a minimum of 4 people. And I was friendless. No matter, I would dash up the trail from Waterton town, return. Then do the other half return next day from the other end.

It starts at pretty Cameron Falls in Waterton, Alberta and goes for 20 kilometers to Cameron Lake. I would do it as a trail run to save time... OK, a trail run down. I walked most of the way up.

Despite the snow, it was a gorgeous autumn day. The trail climbed up, and up, and up. At my highest point it was, as the last time I was here very WINDY."

The Carthew-Alderson Trail is one of the best day hikes in Waterton Lakes National Park as it weaves through alpine and sub-alpine terrain. You'll have views for crystal blue lakes and towering peaks that extend into Montana, USA. The trail is best hiked from Cameron Lake towards the townsite of Waterton to take advantage of the elevation decent. Don't get me wrong, there are steep ascents but the general grade is downhill. The other trail head is at Cameron Falls.

Hiking the Carthew-Alderson Trail in Waterton, Alberta

  • For obvious reasons, avoid this high elevation hike during thunderstorms.
  • As Rick's photos show, the trail can be wet & snowy late in the season. Wear hiking boots that provide good traction.
  • Waterton Lakes National Park is famous as a bear refuge. Learn how to avoid a bear attack.
  • The winds of southern Alberta are strong and constant. Bring appropriate clothing for fast changing weather.
  • Don't forget your camera. The scenery is classically Canadian!

View Hiking in Waterton National Park - Carthew-Alderson Trail in a larger map

Other Hikes & Things to Do in Waterton

------------ is simply an index of the best hikes, treks and tramps in the world. It's edited by Rick McCharles from Calgary near the Canadian Rockies. He started the site after being frustrated trying to find good information online for a trekking holiday in South America. A good starting point is the blog. Check the TOP 10 hikes in the world and other around Waterton Alberta.

Get more insider tips on Canadian Adventures at Scenic Travel Canada.

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