Carthew-Alderson Trail - Waterton Lakes


Difficulty: Difficult
Park Amenities:
Wilderness Camp
Horseback Riding
Interpretive Centre
Wildlife Watching

Carthew-Alderson Trail is a long-haul wilderness route exploring mountain peaks and alpine lakes in the backcountry of theWaterton Lakes National Park in the southwest corner of the province of Alberta, Canada.

The trail measures 20 kilometres one-way with an elevation gain of 650 metres (2132 feet). The western trailhead begins at Cameron Lake. The eastern trailhead is located near Cameron Falls.

The Carthew-Alderson Trail is considered a challenging and difficult route popular for hiking, wilderness camping, horseback riding and backpacking. The trail can be, either, a very long day hike or a two day backpacking adventure. Long day hikers should be experienced and very fit.

For some a trip to Summit Lake (4 kilometres) and back is a good 1/2 day hike on the Carthew-Alderson Trail. For others the two day trek from Cameron Lake to Cameron Falls is a a more preferred travel itinerary.

The Carthew-Alderson route provides a mixed bag of trail and weather conditions. Along the trail there are many switchbacks, exposed boulders, loose rocks and exposed tree roots. There are also level sections of the trail exploring valleys of lakes, wildflower meadows and grassland fields.

The weather is a changing constant on the trail especially when exploring along the high mountain ridges where you are exposed to the winds which can turn cold and blow hard.

Most begin the trail from Cameron Lakes. It starts off level exploring the shores of the lake before it turns into the forest and begins to climb up a family of switchbacks. As the elevation increases there are some views of the lake and the surrounding Akamina Ridge.

The switchbacks lead to an alpine meadow. Just ahead is the 4 kilometre mark and Summit Lake. The lake is a good spot for a rest and some sightseeing. The looming mountains of Chapman and Custer provide for good company.

To continue exploring the Carthew-Alderson Trail turn left at the trail junction located at Summit Lake. The trail again begins climbing for 4 or so kilometres to an alpine ridge which provides some excellent views of Carthew (2630 metres or 8628 feet) and the Alderson (2692 metres or 8832 feet) mountains.

On the mountain ridge you are exposed to the elements. The winds can be fierce. The small twisted and stunted trees on the ridge are always a good indicator of the, sometimes, harsh conditions in the backcountry. Prepare well.

From the high mountain ridge the trail begins a long 7 to 8 kilometre trek downhill criss-crossing, back and forth, over Carthew Creek before ending at the Cameron Falls trailhead near the Waterton Townsite.

Along the way down from the mountains the route visits with lakes like the Carthew and Alderson Lakes. It is at Alderson Lake where there is a wilderness campground for backpackers and horseback riders.

How to Get to Carthew-Alderson Trail

Travel to the Waterton Townsite in the Waterton Lakes National Park in the southwest corner of the province of Alberta, Canada.

From Waterton Avenue (main street) travel Akamina Parkway for 16 kilometres to the Cameron Lake parking lot.

From Waterton Avenue (main street) travel up Cameron Falls Drive to Evergreen Avenue and a small parking area for the falls. The trailhead is left of the falls.


Carthew-Alderson Trail - Waterton Lakes

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