Shortly after I leave Cameron Lake and drive east on Akamina Parkway to the Lineham trailhead, weather is noticeably improving for my afternoon hike along Lineham Creek into Lineham Falls. The Visitor Centre Guide lists this easy day hike as 8.4 KM (5.2 miles) return with modest elevation gain of 350 m (1,148 ft). My car is the only one in the roadside parking area. The wide, gravel trail makes a level entry into forest of predominantly lodge-pole pines and aspen trees.
The Lineham trailhead offers a nice view to the east, above the trees, of Ruby Ridge on the south flank of 2,910 m (9,547 ft) Mount Blakiston, the tallest mountain within Waterton Lakes National Park. There is a section of red-colored trail similar to the Rowe Lakes Trail, one valley to the west. Well-graded switchbacks lift me up to a long grassy meadow leading to the dramatic and narrowing valley between 2,728 m (8,950 ft) Mount Lineham and massive Mount Blakiston.
The narrowing trail, now far above Lineham Creek, leaves forest into gentler elevation gain through a very wide, grassy area on Ruby Ridge, bordered by lush vegetation and bushes loaded with ripe berries, before leveling and entering forest of old growth fir trees.
There is a brief view of Lineham Falls in the distance as Mount Lineham presents an increasingly dominant image on my left. Cloud lingers against lofty peaks and pinnacles at higher elevations, as the central valley I travel, tunnels under the mystical vision above me. When I break out of forest again, a large, deep avalanche chute descending from Mount Blakiston plunges me into a switchback descent across the draw. At the bottom, I am once again beside Lineham Creek. Only a short distance later, after returning into forest, there is an obscure, short and steep path off to the left which descends to a beautiful white-water, cascading waterfall, tumbling over angular rock. When I climb back up to the main trail and continue towards Lineham Falls, only a short distance further, another sketchy, steep trail delivers me down to the base of the same, small and picturesque waterfall.
Within a short distance, the main trail breaks out of forest into views of Lineham Falls cascading 250 m (410 ft) down the headwall about a half kilometre (0.3 mile) ahead. There is a Trails End (Fin du Sentier) sign another short distance further.
The Lineham Creek waterfall is sourced by the colorful, pristine, alpine Lineham Lakes from the bowl above, beneath Lineham Ridge. I have a clear and present image of those awe-inspiring lakes from my recent hike on the Rowe Lakes Trail to the top of Lineham Ridge for the breathtaking view below. Many years ago, an aggressive, chain assisted, and questionable route was available up the Lineham Falls headwall. The chains were removed long ago as too dangerous, given the unstable nature of the headwall rock. It was simply too risky, with potential for serious injury or death, to access the Lineham Lakes via the Lineham Creek Falls headwall route.
It is very tempting to continue off trail to the base of the impressive Lineham Falls. This day I will abstain, as a concession to the four previous aggressive hiking days. I know I will regret this later but, for the moment, I am content to take a few photographs, enjoy my lunch and make a short climb to a nearby high point for a video of the spectacle surrounding me.
The summit of Mount Blakiston, far above me, is completely masked by cloud.
Following the pleasant and relaxing break, I begin the return hike the same way I came in.
Buchanan Ridge fills the end of the Lineham Creek valley as I hike east between Mount Blakiston and Mount Lineham towards the trailhead.
The view from the Lineham Creek Falls Trail down to the cascading waterfall over red rock is even more dramatic from the top than at the bottom.
Within a very short window, from the grassy slope along Ruby Ridge, there is a spectacular, silhouette view to the south of 2,708 (8,883 ft) Mount Custer, with the Herbst Glacier on its flank. The powerful image brings back memories of my kayak adventure on Cameron Lake earlier in the day.
About midway, across the grassy plain on the flank of Ruby Ridge, I glance left intuitively and find a deer watching me intently from the shade of one of the few trees on Ruby Ridge. We spend a few moments gazing at each other. I talk. Deer listens. Then, as I begin hiking again, Deer hikes along with me on a parallel path a few metres above. When trailside shrubbery becomes deeper and the trail begins a more aggressive descent, deer veers higher on the ridge as I descend and we part ways. It is a special encounter.
I believe Deer and I are able to briefly bond because our ears are the same size.
My car is still the only one in the parking area. Buchanan Ridge makes a dramatic background.
It has been a long and fascinating day of visiting, kayaking and hiking in Waterton Lakes National Park. The cloudy and rainy start to the day ends in a ride home under sun. After cleaning up and changing clothes for dinner at Zum’s Eatery, early to bed at the Bear Mountain Motel feels very good.