Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes NP - Hiking Alberta

 

Lineham Ridge is a classic, spectacular hike in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

From Lower Rowe Lake, the hike to Lineham Ridge is a continuation which begins with the short 200 m (219 yard) return to the Rowe Lakes Trail, followed by a left turn at the main trail and a short 1.3 KM (¾ mile), very beautiful hike through lush forest over Rowe Creek water crossings.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

This short segment of trail explodes into a large, incredibly impressive meadow surrounded by forested hills, a valley view, fields of colorful wildflowers, crystal-clear running water and steep rock cliffs.  Rowe Meadow is an easily achievable and worthy destination on its own.  Wow!  

The first vision of Rowe Meadow brings back powerful memories of the initial visual impact of Cracker Lake. Stepping from the forest into the stunningly beautiful alpine meadow has the ability to simply stop a person in their tracks.  Wow!

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

On the far side of Rowe Meadow, a simple, square and narrow, wooden beam bridge crosses a marvel of running water, with moss-covered stones and surrounding wildflowers nothing short of spellbinding in a photographic paradise of peace and tranquility.

The trail junction is a very short distance beyond the rise on the far side of the creek.  The trail to Upper Rowe Lake turns left to begin a steep and obviously sustained climb over broad switchbacks on good, well-maintained trail.  After five minutes of heart-thumping and heavy breathing there occurs, without warning, an uncharacteristicly lucid thought.

The sensible decision is made to exchange the primary destination from Upper Rowe Lakes to Lineham Ridge.  There is some logic in this, but the primary motivation in this decision is the suspicion the Upper Rowe Lakes ascent is likely going to result in death following yesterdays significant Carthew-Alderson hike.  The return hike to the junction turns onto 3.3 KM (2⅛ miles) of trail leading around the impressive bowl and up to Lineham Ridge.  The elevation gain will be greater but much gentler over the increased distance.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

The 3.3 KM (2⅛ mile) hike to Lineham Ridge is longer than the Upper Rowe Lakes hike from the Rowe Meadow junction but the rate of ascent is gentler, although the front end is on steep, loose rock buffered by the beauty of surrounding wildflowers and the magnificent cliffs surrounding the bowl.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

On one portion of this trail segment, beneath impressive cliffs between 2,446 m (8,025 ft) Mount Rowe and 2,728 m (8,950 ft) Mount Lineham the hike is under surveillance. 

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

The Lineham Ridge trail beneath impressive cliffs, is a gentle ascent with phenomenal views on the circle hike around the bowl.  Rowe Meadow, at the bottom, serves as a fixed reference as altitude is consistently gained on the swing around towards the west face of Mount Lineham.  The trail is clear and easy to navigate in the transition from gravel and solid rock to scree.  How isolated plants can flourish in this hostile environment is beyond imagination.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

On the approach to the top of Lineham Ridge, Upper Rowe Lakes begin to appear on the flank of Mount Rowe on the opposite side of the bowl.  The steep switchback trail is visible leading to Upper Rowe Lakes while emerald Lower Rowe Lake rests serenely below.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada A long lens view of Lower Rowe Lake, with Upper Rowe Lakes above, as seen from near the top of Lineham Ridge on the opposite side of the bowl above Rowe Meadow.

 

As the Lineham Ridge trail arrives at the top, the hike proceeds past the severe direction reversal and continues straight towards the west face of Mount Lineham.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Within a very short distance, on the left, the incredible view, from the edge, of Lineham Lakes below begins to unfold and proceeds to exponentially assault the senses.  Breathtaking beauty!  Unreal color!  From the edge of 400 m (1,300 ft) of vertical air, it seems impossible to cease taking photographs within this emotionally powerful and visual extravaganza.  This vision alone makes the hike worthwhile.  Wow!

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Hiking directly along the top of Lineham Ridge directly towards the west face of Mount Lineham.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The view to the left. No photograph can do this justice. You need to stand here.

 

After getting settled down for relaxation and enjoyment of a leisurely lunch with Lineham Lakes directly below me, steep cliffs plunge from the summit of Mount Lineham to the right, combines warm sun and a cool breeze on the back,as feet rest weightless at the end of legs dangling in space.  Mountain wilderness adventure simply does not get better than this.

 


Please click here to enjoy Video # 1 from Lineham Ridge.

Please click here to enjoy Video # 2 of Lineham Lakes.


 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Back at the severe direction reversal at Lineham Ridge Trail, veering right will proceed along the top of the ridge.  Views are compromised to the north because the trail is below the true top.  No doubt this is for protection from wind, and for safety since the north side of the ridge is an unforgiving drop.  On the approach to the high point at the northwest end of Lineham Ridge, the short scramble from the trail to the top of the ridge provides an excellent full view of the two most westerly Lineham Lakes.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Is there any doubt this area once rested under water thousands of years ago.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Top of the scramble to the edge of Lineham Ridge.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada A view looking back along the top of Lineham Ridge from the top of the short scramble.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The view from the top of Lineham Ridge to the two west Lineham Lakes at the bottom of the bowl.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

The view from the top of the ridge is spectacular in every direction, but the angle of the sun calls time to begin the return hike.  On the hike back along the top of Lineham Ridge, two other couples have arrived at the severe direction change.  There is no warning the ridge was going to get crowded like this.  One couple is from the United States, the other from Switzerland.  Pleasantries and intelligence are exchanged prior to parting in a variety of directions and distance.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Flowers and Big Horn Sheep.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Rowe Meadow does not seem to get much written attention.  This is one of many highlights on the hike from the Akamina Parkway to the top of Lineham Ridge

On the approach to the meadow, a few minutes are allocated to appreciate the slopes consumed with brilliant wildflowers.  The mix of flora, rock and running water, combined with surrounding dramatic scenery, is magic.  The aroma and sound are palpable.  This is a very beautiful, sensually consuming place.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

At the Rowe Meadow trail junction, the potential hike up to Upper Rowe Lakes is abandoned.  The view of the lakes from the top of Lineham Ridge will suffice this day.  Instead, extra time will be spent at Rowe Meadow to enjoy a snack, refresh the filtered water supply and take many photographs of the pristine beauty near the wooden beam bridge.  Choose just a few photographs to be included in this post is significantly challenging

 

. Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada On the return hike - back at the trail junction to Lower Rowe Lake on the right. Straight ahead returns home.

 

Lineham Ridge - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Hiking east through the valley between Mount Rowe and Mount Lineham with the north end of Buchanan Ridge consuming the view ahead.

 

The hike to Lower Rowe Lake is listed in the reliable Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor's Guide published by the Waterton Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Association with assistance from several sources.  The free document is a good and valuable piece of work and an important, free reference for navigating Waterton Lakes National Park.

The Lower Rowe Lake hike is listed as 8 KM (5.0 miles) return with an elevation gain of 350 m (1,148 ft).  The additional distance to Rowe Meadow is 2.6 KM (1⅝ miles) with approximately 60 m (197 ft) of elevation, bringing the total experience to a return distance hike of 10.6 KM (6⅝ miles) and elevation gain near 410 m (1,345 ft). 

Decide to tackle the Rowe Meadow hike might lead to a few hundred meters continuance on the Lineham Ridge hike for a bit of elevation, sloping meadows and amazing views.   Even footprints in the marsh land would be a travesty of wilderness etiquette in this pristine paradise. 

To choose to continue to the top of Lineham Ridge will be tackling a return hike from the Akamina Parkway of about 17.6 KM (11 miles) and elevation gain in the range of 850 m (2,780 ft) so, a bit more aggressive.  There is always the option to go as far as chosen and turn about when you have had all the fun you can stand. 

Happy trails.  Thanks for sharing the adventure.  This magnificent hike has been the reason for another grand hiking day.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

I was blessed with perfect weather and nearly total isolation. The hike exceeded my expectations. Views down to Lineham Lakes were incredibly beautiful within a spectacular bowl. Photographs are inadequate. If you get the chance to stand at the edge, it is forever memorable. It is a feeling that cannot be forgotten. Thank you for your comment, Helen. And, thank you for sharing your outstanding and unique photographs from Lamington National Park. I hope to stand there one day. Your lunch time photo was much different than mine on Carthew-Alderson but no less beautiful. Take care.

It most certainly was 'another grand day!'

There is significant exposure on Lineham Ridge from nearly every direction so the fair weather, I was blessed with, is a definite plus. The bowl would have the potential to spin the wind. The variety of colors in Lineham Lakes is surrealistic. The camera does a half decent job, within a very limited scope of vision, but there is no substitue for standing there. My plan is to do more hikes in Yoho National Park next year but I have at least two more week sessions in Waterton National Park to complete the Triple Crown and remaining trails of interest. These two parks are among my very favorites and due to their more isolated access, tend to be less crowded. I have noticed the volume of traffic in summer is steadily growing so accommodation may soon be limited to the shoulder seasons. Thanks for your comment, Andra.

No argument from me. I was impressed with this hike. I wish you fair weather. There is no viable route into Lineham Lakes via Lineham Falls to the best of my knowledge. Thanks for your comment, Leigh. And for the heads up on the tech side.

You just confirmed that my business in Waterton Lakes National Park is unfinished! So glad you made the choice to do the Ridge and not the Lake and to have had ideal conditions to accomplish this also. Friends tried to hike the Ridge last summer but were turned back due to unsafe high winds and wind gusts. The views and colors of the lakes are spectacular. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. Maybe next summer for me!

I can hardly wait to do this hike!! There are so many great ones to choose from but this one is a must this weekend.

Just curious how long it took you altogether from the start of the Lower Rowe Lakes trail head to do Lineham Ridge and back?

Nicole, The distance is small.  The elevation is fairly modest.  The opportunity to go further and to look around is substantial.  An aggressive hiker counting steps or measuring calories, or a trail runner, can be in and out in a couple of hours or less. There are summits on both ends of the ridge and spectacular views down and around.  To appreciate and explore can add an indefinite time.  As I recall, my hike up there through that incredibly beautiful meadow and enjoying lunch with my feet dangling in mid air over Lineham Lakes, followed by exploration of the length of the ridge with multiple pauses for photographs spanned 5 or 6 hours.  But, that is me and my time is always extended in an incredibly beautiful place.  This is a hike which deserves to be extended in good weather and fully appreciated.  Or, you can do it quick.  For me, the value, over time, became slowing everything down so the soul could capture and appreciate the experience.  Lineham Ridge is one of the best ever done.  There is exposure so fair weather and good visibility is a significant advantage.  I wish you well.  Happy trails and stay safe.  Barry

Thank you! That sounds amazing, I think I'll do the same and take my time on that one and be able to enjoy it. :)

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