Backpack the Alderson-Carthew Trail

Waterton, Alberta

based on 2 reviews



12.4 miles

Elevation Gain

4101.1 ft

Route Type



Added by Dan Duerden

From the the Carthew and Alderson summits, you'll be able to see the entirety of the Park and all its mountains.

Take the Akamina Parkway in Wateron Lakes National Park to its terminus at Cameron Lake. Your hike will start from here. If you’re through-hiking either drop another vehicle off at Cameron Falls in the town site, or be prepared to hitch a ride back to Cameron Lake, due to heavy traffic this is often very easily accomplished (some local businesses also run shuttles in the summers).

The trailhead begins on the east side of Cameron Lake itself behind the visitor centre. It follows the lake edge briefly before steep switchbacks take you away from the lake towards Summit Lake. After 4km and 300m of elevation you reach Summit Lake. It’s well signed to Carthew’s summit or the pass, whichever objective you choose.

After another 4km and 350m you’ll reach the Carthew pass which gives expansive views into Glacier National Park, you will also see Mount Carthew to the west of the valley and Alderson towering on the eastern side. Carthew’s summit is posted and cairned ascending the ridgeline from the pass. Alderson is accessed just before Carthew lakes. You break away from the trail to ascend the ridge, the ridge requires a couple of steps at times, stick to the north side for your first step, and then the south side of the ridge for the remainder of the climb past the false summit.

An option is to camp overnight at Alderson Lake which is about 3km past Carthew Lakes, where you split from the Trail to summit Alderson. This allows you to stay on Alderson for sunset if you choose! You will need a backcountry permit from the visitor centre if you choose this option.

Both mountains offer unparalleled views of the ancient red rock of Wateron and south to the peaks of Glacier N.P.

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Backpack the Alderson-Carthew Trail Reviews

You can do the trail as a strenuous day hike by taking a hikers shuttle (we used Tamarack) for 20$.They drop you off at Cameron lake and you hike back to your parked car in the town of Waterton. Very beautiful hike with a lot of changing scenery throughout. A lot of the trail is through burn scars and on a ridge line so I recommend taking the 7:30am shuttle if hiking in the summer and packing lots of sunscreen and water. Ample water sources to filter from throughout the hike. Such a stunning trail- the red rocks are very dramatic as are the views from the ridge lines. Highly recommend to get away from the crowd in Waterton

If you only have time for one objective in Waterton, this is worth it. You get the touristy Cameron Lake and Cameron Falls at the start and finish, but more importantly, you get two of the best peaks in the park that are both very accessible scrambles. Galwey and Akimina are also options, but much busier usually.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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