Backpack the Alderson-Carthew Trail

Cameron Lake Trailhead

From the the Carthew and Alderson summits, you'll be able to see the entirety of the Park and all its mountains.

Take the Akamina Parkway in Wateron Lakes National Park to its terminus at Cameron Lake. Your hike will start from here. If you’re through-hiking either drop another vehicle off at Cameron Falls in the town site, or be prepared to hitch a ride back to Cameron Lake, due to heavy traffic this is often very easily accomplished (some local businesses also run shuttles in the summers).

The trailhead begins on the east side of Cameron Lake itself behind the visitor centre. It follows the lake edge briefly before steep switchbacks take you away from the lake towards Summit Lake. After 4km and 300m of elevation you reach Summit Lake. It’s well signed to Carthew’s summit or the pass, whichever objective you choose.

After another 4km and 350m you’ll reach the Carthew pass which gives expansive views into Glacier National Park, you will also see Mount Carthew to the west of the valley and Alderson towering on the eastern side. Carthew’s summit is posted and cairned ascending the ridgeline from the pass. Alderson is accessed just before Carthew lakes. You break away from the trail to ascend the ridge, the ridge requires a couple of steps at times, stick to the north side for your first step, and then the south side of the ridge for the remainder of the climb past the false summit.

An option is to camp overnight at Alderson Lake which is about 3km past Carthew Lakes, where you split from the Trail to summit Alderson. This allows you to stay on Alderson for sunset if you choose! You will need a backcountry permit from the visitor centre if you choose this option.

Both mountains offer unparalleled views of the ancient red rock of Wateron and south to the peaks of Glacier N.P.

Pack List

  • Ten Essentials
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Tent
  • Sleeping pad
  • Food
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Hiking Boots
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RT Distance 12.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 4101.1 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

If you only have time for one objective in Waterton, this is worth it. You get the touristy Cameron Lake and Cameron Falls at the start and finish, but more importantly, you get two of the best peaks in the park that are both very accessible scrambles. Galwey and Akimina are also options, but much busier usually.


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