Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena - Hiking British Columbia

 

Wall Lake is a pristine gem in BC accessed from Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

The drive south from Calgary to Waterton Lakes National Park in the south-west corner of Alberta begins very early in the day. 

Fields of grain and grasses glow green and golden in early morning sun and further south host hundreds of wind-driven, electricity generating turbines.  These monster, high-tech windmills spin gracefully to harness the power of the wind and supplement the province's electrical grid.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada South-western Alberta wind farms harnessing the power of wind to create electricity.

 

There is time to drive through, rather than around, the small town of Pincher Creek, in south-western Alberta, whose historic downtown seems frozen in time.  The town has been an important ranching and farming hub since the late 1800's, where prairies meet mountains.  South of Pincher Creek, mountains to the west and shrouded in cloud, begin to encroach on the field of vision as the final approach to Waterton Lakes National Park continues.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada 

 

After purchasing the annual National Parks Pass (now upgraded to Discovery Pass with additional access to a plethora of other Canadian attractions), the long-standing reservation at the Bear Mountain Motel is confirmed prior to reserving a seat on tomorrow's Cameron Lake Shuttle with Tamarack Outdoor Outfitters

Tomorrow features one of the hikes in the Waterton Lakes National Park Triple Crown as a highlight hike for this mission.  The drive west from Waterton Village on the nearby Akamina Parkway is about 15 KM (9⅜ miles) to the trail-head for Akamina Pass.  The choice, for this day, is a hike to Wall Lake as a warm-up for tomorrow's main event. 

The trail-head is in Alberta but Wall Lake is in British Columbia.  The popular Wall Lake hike is listed, in the excellent My Waterton Visitor's Guide, as a 10.4 KM (6½ miles) round trip hike with 110 m (361 ft) of net elevation and an estimated elapsed time of 3.5 hrs.  Perfect!

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

The excellent, well-maintained and predominantly road width trail quickly changes to a gentle and consistent elevation gain through lush forest with the occasional meadow providing views of richly colored surrounding ridges. 

A wooden bridge over a minor creek crossing near the 1.5 KM (1 mile) mark is close to the Alberta - British Columbia border marker.  The hike changes from Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta to become a hike within Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in British Columbia.  To the right is a concrete border marker.  Another faint and dead fall-discouraged trail, not on the map, continues to the right from the provincial boundary marker.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

On the British Columbia side of the border kiosk, a sign for Forum Lake makes no mention of Wall Lake.  About 0.7 KM (½ mile) later the trail marker post lists the branch to Forum Lake, as well as the continuance to Wall Lake and points beyond.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Continuing straight to Wall Lake a short, gradual descent arrives at Akamina Creek Campsite which likely has an outhouse and a turn right enters the pleasantly appointed backcountry campground (Self registration - minimal fee).  Rustic stairs lead past the dining area and metal food cache up to attractive camp sites around and above an old, collapsed and roped-off log cabin of unknown origin and historical significance.  Most importantly, there is a very fine biffy for every gender.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada A typical camp site and tent pad at Akamina Creek Campsite in Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Back on the Akamina Pass Trail a short distance further a platform bridge crosses Akamina Creek and signage clearly identifies the junction heading left to Wall Lake.  Two short bridges over a small cascading water creekbed lead to a stony, curving incline and subsequently to beautiful trail through lush forest. 

Elevation changes are minimal.  About 2.0 KM (1¹⁄₃ miles) later, broad avalanche chutes to the left lead to a profusely flowered meadow as the very impressive headwall appears and continuing trail tracks adjacent to Wall Creek.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

The wooden bridge over Wall Creek leads to, then along, the north shoreline of the pristine,crystal-clear, alpine emerald lake.  Along the north shore, the hike proceeds through incredible forest damage.  Kudos to trail maintenance crews who have worked very hard to clear a path through virtually impenetrable debris.  Huge trees have been uprooted or broken apart.  The force to create this level of damage would be huge. 

The cause is likely massive avalanche from the headwall or hurricane force winds.  Often the air displacement from a huge avalanche can create a force sufficiently powerful to cause this kind of damage.  Trail maintenance crews have cleared trail past the junction to Bennet Pass and a short distance beyond to the outhouse.  Their effort is appreciated.  Beyond the biffy remains a tangle of difficult to navigate fallen and shattered lumber.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Exiting the outhouse, a large spider is enjoying a freshly caught meal.  The Wall Lake hike returns east along the north shore where the color and tranquility of the water is mesmerizing.  Past the bridge, avalanche chutes down the steep slopes of Akamina Ridge are on the right as the same trail taken in offers a new and entirely different perspective of surrounding lush terrain.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada The view from the north shore of Wall Lake of tree damage west of the outhouse.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Hiking east along the north shore of Wall Lake.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Huge trees have been uprooted. Note, on photo left the size of the roots torn from the ground on the north shore of Wall Lake.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada A massive tree at shoreline has been snapped off creating a bridge over the north shore trail on Wall Lake.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

Reaching the trail junction to Forum Lake brings about a pensive moment...Hmmm.  On the other hand, there is a challenging, full-day hike firmly scheduled for tomorrow. The responsible and sensible thing to do is, call it a day, return to Waterton Village, and hike to Forum Lake another time.

 

Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada Wall Lake - Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

 

It is easy to understand why the half-day Wall Lake hike is so popular.  This magnificent hike provides excellent trail with a variety of spectacular features and vistas.  Gross elevation is double the published net elevation but this hike is within the reach of a broad range of hikers and is well worth the time.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Pleased to hear you and your father enjoyed the experience. Wall Lake is a spectacular hike.

Thanks for this great post. My father and I were planning a hike in Waterton and I came across your site. All of the information you provided really helped me decide which trail to hike. We decided on Wall Lake and were not disappointed. Pictures just can't do it justice. Thank you again for the excellent insight and information!

Thanks for the great post. We did this hike in Aug of 2012 and it remains a highlight for our family. My then 7 and 5 year old children did the whole thing while I pushed my 2 year old in a jogging stroller. Seeing your pictures is a great reminder as we also saw those damaged trees and turned-up roots at the lake shore. I was reminiscing about it tonight and came across your blog after a search. Great memories of a beautiful and magical place.

Please accept my profound condolences on the loss of your Father's physical presence. He passed in heavenly, magnificent terrain doing something he enjoyed which perhaps tempers the event. Perhaps it was a calling. If you and your family are so inclined, Wall Lake is not a difficult hike and would be leisurely if extended to a full day. The well-marked trail head is just shy of Cameron Lake on the Akamina Parkway within Waterton Lakes National Park. The hike begins in Alberta. Wall Lake is in British Columbia. It has been many years since I have attended a funeral. Not my style and I do not enjoy them. I carry the best laminated picture of the departed I can find to a lofty, beautiful point where I build a cairn with the photo buried inside. I spend time there remembering and revisiting. It is always a powerful, emotional and uplifting experience for me. My observation is that the experience is the same for others who have lost loved ones. If it is within the realm of possibility, I would urge you to consider such a mission. It may help to bring spiritual closure. I have spent more quality time with my Father, after his passing, than I was able to when he was alive. Anyway, thank you for your kind words.

Thank you for your website. My father, his brothers and a few of his friends cross country skied into Wall Lake December of 1989 and during the trip, he fell over on a minimal slope and was paralysed. A helicopter flew in and took him to Cardston where he passed away. Seeing these pictures and sharing them with my sister who has never been there means a lot to me and I appreciate your description and photos.

I hiked this trail last month when I was in Waterton and loved it! The forests were beautiful and the lake was gorgeous as well. Thanks for sharing your fantastic photos and write-up about the trail. It definitely helped me when I was planning my hikes for my trip!

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