Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Carthew Pass

Carthew Pass
Location: Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada
Duration: 1-2 Day
Season: Summer - Fall
Distance: ~15 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Moderate

Known for it's spectacular views and diverse terrain, the trail from Cameron Lake to Carthew Pass is a must-see hike. Approximately 15 miles round trip with an elevation gain of approximately 2000 feet, it's a challenging hike that affords spectacular views, cool lakes and a sense of accomplishment.
Most people begin the hike at Cameron Lake. Walk through the visitor's center and turn left to get to the trail. It is well marked and well maintained. The trail begins to climb along the south shore of the lake.
Groomed switchbacks make the assent fairly easy. At about 3 km the trail flattens out and .5 km later you reach Summit Lake. This is a small lake with nice scenery in the background. Moose frequent this lake and are often seen mostly submerged, foraging for lake bottom vegetation.
The trail splits at the lake with the left fork climbing steadily to the top of the pass. This trail moves through the trees for about 1 km and then enters an open talus slope for another 2+ km to the summit.
This trail is well maintained and fairly wide. However, a few hikers will have anxiety with the steepness of the slope. The view from the Pass is spectacular in all directions. A small peak to the east along the ridge provides a better view.
From the pass, the trail descends to a chain of 3 lakes that are fed from a large snowfield. There are good picnic spots at the head of each lake. The trail winds around the left side of all the lakes and then drops steeply several km to Alderson Lake this lake is located in the trees with a rock wall around one side.
There is a backcountry campground here with corrals for horses and a bear platform. There is a trail that leaves Alderson Lake and descends through the trees to the Waterton town site, but most people prefer to backtrack over the Pass and return to Cameron Lake (The section of trail from Alderson Lake to Waterton is in very dense vegetation with limited views and lots of bugs).
Directions: The Waterton Park town site is located off of highway 5 about 45 km due west of Cardston Alberta. The park may also be approached from the north from Pincher Creek along highway 6 or from the south from the Chief Mountain Highway. The trailhead is at Cameron Lake located at the end of the Akimina Parkway. There is a shuttle that leaves the Tamarack Mall each morning. Check with visitor information for departure times.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Carthew Pass

See you on the trail,

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