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Carthew Alderson Trail

A fantastic day hike with stunning views all along this diverse trail.

Also in British Columbia, Canada

Hiking Difficult

19 km
818 m
1.2 km
5-6 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
2.4 km
Carthew Alderson Trail Map

The Carthew Alderson trail is one of the bucket list hikes in Waterton Lakes Nation Park. This trail travels through some incredible terrain and is a popular area for wildlife too.


As this trail is a through hike, you either have to shuttle cars to the two different trailheads, or there is a shuttle bus that runs from Waterton Townsite that will drop you off at the opposite trailhead (you will need to book this in advance though).

Most day hikers start this trail at Cameron Lake as it's at a higher elevation, which reduces the elevation gain on the trail. If you do hike it in the opposite direction, there is more elevation but it's more gradual, so I personally don't think it's any more difficult.

The start of this trail travels through an area which was burned in a forest fire back in 2017. The result of the fire means there is very little shelter or shade to protect you from the elements. On the positive side though, the open treeline means you get to enjoy some of the fantastic views this trail is renowned for.

Once you gain the Col between Mt Carthew & Mt Alderson, it's well worth heading along the ridge to the spectacular viewpoint. The views from here are truly epic. You are looking at both Waterton and Glacier National Parks, both of which offer stunning scenery.

Carthew Lakes are two picturesque alpine lakes and one of the highlights of the day. As it's mostly downhill from here, you can relax a little and enjoy the outstanding scenery this area has to offer.

The descent to Alderson Lake can be tricky if it's still snow covered, but by July the snow should have all gone. If you have the time I highly recommend camping here for the night. Alderson Lake is a brilliant little campground and is a great way to maximise your experience on the trail.

After Alderson Lake you head back below the treeline. The trees here didn't burn in the forest fire and it's prime grizzly bear habitat. Bears are frequently seen in this area and the windy trail makes it easy to surprise a bear.



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between July and September


  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area