Bear's Hump - Waterton National Park - Hiking Alberta

 

Bear's Hump overlooks Waterton Village and Lakes in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.

 

 

Mount Crandell was originally called Bear Medicine Mountain by the Blackfoot Pikuni tribe.  Bear's Hump is a prominent feature, resembling the hump on the back of a Grizzly Bear, which looms over Waterton Village on the southwest face of 2,738 m (7,802 ft) Mount Crandell

This moderately strenuous, short hike to the overlook at the top of Bear's Hump is a round trip of 2.8 KM (1⅞ miles) and an elevation gain of 225 m (738 ft) to a maximum elevation of 1,525 m (5,000 ft) on a sustained, fairly steep ascent over predominantly rocky trail supplemented by short switchbacks and large, wooden beam steps.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada At the trailhead sign near the Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor Information Centre

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The Bear's Hump trail is steep over a mainly rocky surface.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The Bear's Hump trail offers occasional views of the sun rising over Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

This hike is the first activity of the day.  Bear's Hump is arguably the most populated hike in Waterton Lakes National Park and an early start may avoid the crowds.  There is no-one else on the trail and cool air is well-balanced by physical exertion and the yellow-orange glow of the rising sun. 

The decision to hike very early provides the opportunity to look forward to a well-earned and hearty breakfast.  Within less than an hour arrival at the top of Bear's Hump reveals the incredible surrounding views.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The trail ends here, at the top of Bear's Hump, with the scramble route to the summit of Mount Crandell behind.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada A view to the northeast across The Prince of Wales Hotel and the narrows separating Upper and Middle Waterton Lakes.

 

From the uppermost point of the rock outcropping, there is a phenomenal view over the top of the Prince of Wales Hotel above Emerald Bay and the narrows separating Upper Waterton Lake from Middle Waterton Lake

Tiny Linnet Lake peeks out near the boat launch area on Middle Waterton Lake as  the rising sun creates an ethereal glow through morning mist.  The obligatory photos of triumph are taken from the top of Bear's Hump.

 


 

Click here to enjoy a video captured from Bear's Hump in Waterton Lakes National Park.

 


 

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The view south unfolds as we approach the edge of Bear's Hump that overlooks Waterton Village.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The traditional victory acknowledgment of our successful hike to the top of Bear's Hump.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada At the top of Bear's Hump in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada At the edge of Bear's Hump on Mount Crandell overlooking Waterton Townsite.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada We may be the only humans present, but we are not alone.

 

Vistas from the edge of the Bear's Hump cliff face are awe-inspiring and enhanced by early morning sun.  Time is taken to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Mountain views to the northeast from Bear's Hump, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Bertha Peak, 2,440 m (8,005 ft), towering over Waterton Village.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Looking over Waterton Village and down Upper Waterton Lake into Glacier National Park in Montana, USA

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The small marina nestles on the shore of Emerald Bay as morning sun accentuates bands of mist on east shore mountains.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada To the northeast, tiny Linnet Lake peeks into view near the Prince of Wales Hotel with Middle and Lower Waterton Lakes behind.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Overlooking Waterton Townsite from Bear's Hump in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The narrows which separate Middle Waterton Lake from Upper Waterton Lake with Vimy Ridge and Vimy Peak behind

 

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada A final view over Waterton Village before we leave Bear's Hump to return to the trailhead.

 

The return hike from Bear's Hump is via the same route used for ascent.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada A view to the northeast from partway down the Bear's Hump trail in Waterton Lakes National Park.

 

Bear's Hump - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Back at the Bear's Hump trailhead, then off to a great breakfast at Zum's Eatery in Waterton Village.

 

On departure from Bear's Hump, a couple with their dog take our place and on the way down less than a dozen people are hiking to the top.  By noon the trail will be very busy in both directions.  Bear's Hump overlook will be crowded throughout the afternoon and evening in spite of the heat on the rock.

A relaxed and excellent breakfast at Zum's Eatery on Waterton Avenue is thoroughly enjoyable before driving to Cameron Lake at the end of the Akamina Parkway, otherwise known as Cameron Lake Road.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Next time, Fred. The Waterton Park Visitor Centre is at the bottom of Bear`s Hump. Always wise to check with them. Perhaps your experience will help others. The trail is not as crowded in very early morning. It is cooler and the light on a clear sky day is spectacular as the sun rises over the mountains. Waterton Park has an outstanding and free `My Waterton` publication that is invaluable for hikers. Admire you for giving it a try.

We tried the trail yesterday. There were many visitors. I'm a sedentary 67 and found parts of the climb strenuous. I hate to admit it but we gave up and turned around. Discretion is the better part of falling. The way down is hard on the knees so keep that in mind if you are elderly. Later I learned that the benches were 1/3 markers and that there were 18 switchbacks. Had I known that ahead of time it would certainly have convinced us to reach the goal. We were enticingly close but didn't know it. Oh well, next time for sure.

Thank you for your comment, Helen. I call them all chipmunks as well but I believe this is a variety of squirrel whose name eludes me. There is no way of telling from the photograph but a chipmunk is smaller than this little guy and although the stripes on the back indicate a chipmunk, the smaller chipmunk is distinguished by stripes on the face as well. I am glad you enjoyed Bear's Hump. It is a long panoramic view and we were blessed with an exceptionally fine, bright, cool, calm and clear morning.

Spectacular! Loved the chipmunk.

The pictured rodent is known as a golden-mantled ground squirrel.

I am currently researching my upcoming road trip to Montana and Alberta and came across your blog! Wow, it's been such a good resource for my travel planning and I love your writing style, descriptions of places and amazing photos. This hike in particular looks fantastic and I can't wait to try it out! Thanks for sharing such great information!

Bear's Hump is an uphill effort which begins from the Visitor Center at the entrance to Waterton Townsite.  There are rest benches at thirds of distance so after the second rest stop, you are on the final push.  Views are spectacular.  The hike can be very busy and crowded.  Suggest beginning at first light for sunrise over the mountains and cool air for the uphill effort.  By the time you are back down, restaurants will be open for breakfast.  One of my favorite National Parks.  Enjoy your trip.

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