Lower Rowe Lake is a short, easy hike in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada.
The Lower Rowe Lake trail-head is clearly marked and located on the north side of the Akamina Parkway west of Waterton Village and past the Lineham trail-head.
The hike is 4 KM (2½ miles) one way with a gradual and consistent elevation gain of 350 m (1,148 ft) in the first half of the hike.
The trail heads straight and level into the forest from the roadside parking area.
Soon the trail surface turns red. The trail is gradually tracking closer to Rowe Creek on the left, determined by the increasing volume of water rushing over rock.
When cascading, white-water Rowe Creek is directly beside and below the trail, it is immediately reminiscent of Sunrift Gorge in Glacier National Park, Montana. The red color comes from a large deposit of red Grinnell argillite which is a fine-grained, sedimentary mudstone common in this area, but less commonly seen in Waterton Lakes National Park than our much larger International Peace Park neighbor to the south.
White, crystal-clear water flowing over red rock is always very dramatic and the short distance recalls the sights and sounds of past hikes. Soon, a short series of well-graded and maintained switchbacks lift the Rowe Lakes Trail up the side of 2,728 m (8,950 ft) Mount Lineham through dense forest to traverse a series of relatively level, grassy avalanche chutes interrupted by sections of forest on the southeast flank of Mount Lineham. There are outstanding views of the surrounding valley and 2,446 m (8,025 ft) Mount Rowe to the left.
The Rowe Lakes Trail is interesting, with a wide range of hiking experience on easy trail, through a broad range of forest offering frequent openings to outstanding views of the valley between Mount Lineham and Mount Rowe. It is berry season and bushes, at trail-side in several lengthy sections, are loaded with fruit, so due diligence dictates practicing bear awareness skills.
There are a lot of flies but they are not an issue. The flies are congregated on large white blossoms, turning them dark. Within close view, at any given time, there are hundreds of blossoms and thousands upon thousands of flies. An effort to photograph a blossom up close causes many of the flies to depart but imagine all the blossoms near completely black from being covered with flies.
Soon, arrival at the clearly-signed trail junction for Lower Rowe Lake takes off to the left. Straight ahead leads to another trail junction for Upper Rowe Lake or Lineham Ridge and on to the Tamarack Trail taken by multiple day backpackers.
The trail to Lower Rowe Lake crosses a bridge and climbs gently on trail adjacent to a beautiful, rocky creek flowing from the lake. The surrounding view expands exponentially on the approach to scree slopes beneath steep mountain walls.
Arrival at Lower Rowe Lake is breathtaking. The still surface mirrors the stunningly beautiful surroundings. The superb view is captivating. It would be easy to spend the entire day here exploring the circumference of the lake, surrounding rock and forest terrain but reluctantly, a retreat is necessary to hike back down to the main trail junction for more hiking.
The next intended objective for this day is the hike to Upper Rowe Lake and then to the top of Lineham Ridge. This plan will make the day quite aggressive so leisure time is limited.
On the hike out from Lower Rowe Lake, there a good view of Lineham Ridge to the north.
The distance to the next trail junction for Upper Rowe Lake is 1.3 KM (¾ miles) through forest on relatively level trail.