In the winter, the townsite of Waterton is almost a ghost town. In the spring and fall, it’s all yours. But in the summer, you may have to line up a few minutes for a hotdog at the famous Wieners of Waterton, but that’s it. The trails, the roadways and the lake are yours to discover.
Springtime is a showy time for nature in the park. Over 900 different species of plants are bursting with flowers. Alpine fields are exploding with fresh green grass and are blanketed with pastel colours of a painter’s palette. Columbine, lupine, orchids and wild roses are everywhere.
Yes, Waterton experienced a devastating fire in 2017 with some regions still in recovery mode, but the Parks staff is working hard to open new terrain, so don’t let that stop you. Let it be your guide to discover how nature heals. Watch the Waterton Park Facebook page for updates on the trails. They are hinting that Red Rock Canyon road all the way to the canyon has the potential to open this summer.
“When the Parks says, ‘This summer,’ you have to realize that summer is short here and that means closer to July,” says Kelley Baker of Waterton Outdoor Adventures. “But for people coming early, the bonus is the road is closed to traffic all the way to Coppermine Creek pullout.” Just make sure you have good tires on.
I agree with Baker, when the road is closed to traffic in the spring, it opens the door for hikers and cyclists. Last spring, we cycled it, passing lots of hikers enjoying the road with no traffic to disturb the sights or the sounds.
Baker suggests hikes in the area that are open include Betha Lake, Lion’s Head Lookout and the Belvidere trail. She says she has her fingers crossed that Bear’s Hump will see people on it this season too, but says it has to be totally free of hazards before the Parks will take down the closed signs.
My favourite hike in Canada, is the hike to Crypt Lake. It’s not easy, but it’s worth every step of the effort. The hike involves crossing the lake in a boat, hiking steep valleys, crawling through caves, climbing steep rock faces while clinging to a fixed cable, crossing unguarded international boards to stop at a pristine mountain lake, edged by mountain peaks and snow drifts that last almost the entire summer. You can’t linger too long as the boat comes back at a designated time. Definitely a #bucketlistAB trail.
Because it takes all day to do Crypt Lake trail, staying in Pincher Creek is ideal. Stop on your way back to Pincher Creek at the Twin Butte store for some killer Mexican food. Trust me on that.
Check into Pincher Creek to start planning your trip's activities.
Castle Provincial Park