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Bears Hump Waterton Hiking Guide

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Bear’s Hump Waterton offers you an uninterrupted view of the town, lakes, and the mountains of the national park. It is one of the must-do activities and should not be missed. In this guide, we will share all about the Bears Hump Trail Hike, with pictures and related information. 

Hiking the Bear’s Hump Waterton Lakes National Park

View from the Bears Hump Hike
Bears Hump Trail Hiking Guide

Bears Hump Trail is located inside the Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta Canada. The Prairies of Alberta meet the stunning Rocky Mountains in Waterton, and it welcomes you to a beautiful landscape, quite different from Banff or the Jasper National Parks. 

Bears Hump Trail Information

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Out and back 
  • Duration: Approximately 1 hour
  • Distance: 2.8 km / 1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 225 m / 738 ft.
  • Trailhead: Located behind the Visitor Resource Centre
  • Amenities: Limited parking, signage, toilets (at the trailhead), no backcountry campsites
  • Best time to do this hike: May to October
  • Pets: Dogs allowed, must be kept on a leash

Bears Hump trail is a short, but steep hike. It is rated as being moderately challenging on AllTrails, mainly due to the steepness and switchbacks. 

Girl in Bears Hump Hike
Bears Hump Hike

The trail is heavily trafficked especially in the summer months from May to October. So you can expect crowds and a ton of activity options. In the wintertime, the trail is covered in snow and can be unsafe for a hike. It is also windy as you reach the top. 

The trailhead is easily accessible inside the Waterton townsite. It starts at the Waterton Lakes Visitor Center. For parking, there is limited space at the trailhead entrance. So it is important that you start early to find yourself a nice parking spot. 

Another option is to walk down from Prince Wales Hotel if you are staying there. The trailhead is accessible as soon as you exit the hotel property. It is located right across the street from the Prince Wales Hotel. 

View of Prince of Wales Hotel

During our visit, we parked at the hotel grounds and then walked to the trailhead entrance. 

We went on this hike in the morning (after 11:00 am local time), but we recommend heading there in the early morning hours or in the evening to soak in the sunset views.

This will allow you to park at ease, and enjoy the hike comfortably. In the summer months, as we mentioned, the trail will be crowded, and it can get very hot during the day. 

Parks Canada recommends visiting in the morning, later in the day, or midweek for a more tranquil experience. 

It is important to note that much of Waterton National Park was severely damaged by the 2017 Kenow Wildfire. It has been since rebuilt and rehabilitated.

We went on the Bears Hump Hike after it was re-built. Today you can still signs of the wildfire. 

Read: Top things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park

Bears Hump Hike Details

Bears Hump Hike offers a postcard view of the townsite of Waterton and its lakes. Once you reach the top, you will be welcomed to picturesque views of the iconic Prince Wales Hotel and mountain ranges surrounding the town. 

From the hike: Bear Hump, Prince of Wales hotel, Upper Waterton, and Middle Waterton lake views

On a clear day, you can also look down the lake towards the United States! This hike is a delight for every hiker and photographer looking to capture the sights of Waterton Lakes National Park.

Bears Hump Hike is a popular and convenient trail, and it must be added to your things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park list. 

Here is the entire hike experience from our trip.

We parked our car at the Prince of Wales Hotel and walked to the trailhead. Right across from the hotel is the parking lot.

You will find a path with a wood railing beginning from the parking lot leading to the hike.  Within 20 metres you’ll see a sign that says ‘Bear’s Hump trail’. There is an informative sign describing the history and the origins of the name of the Bears Hump. 

Trail route

The Piikani Nation who lived here before called this mountain Grizzly Medicine Mountain or Great Bear Mountain. The Hump is the distinctive muscular shoulder that differentiates grizzly bears from their black bear relatives. Today, it is officially known as Crandell Mountain.

From the wooden path, you can embark on this hike. There are steps along the way with quick stops. When it is quite busy you have to squeeze to the right side to allow others to pass by.

The entire route is well maintained. There are wooden beams, and steps that help to climb. Switchbacks help ease the ascent. 

There are two benches along the route where you can stop for a break, enjoy the breeze and soak in the view. These beaches also help to note the length of the trail. Each bench represents a third of the journey completed! 

One of the amazing stops is the lovely glimpse of the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel playing peek-a-boo among the trees. 

View of the Prince of Wales Hotel from the Bears Hump Hike
View of the Prince of Wales Hotel

As you climb higher you will also see views of the Prairies. You can also spot Linnet Lake from here.

To the east is the sight of the Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton townsite on Emerald Bay, and Upper and Lower Waterton Lakes with the background of the Vimy Ridge and Peak. 

The view leads south into Glacier National Park (in Montana USA). As you go along you will see a variety of lovely peaks like the Bertha Peak, and Bear’s Hump to the peak of Mount Crandell.

You will also sight wildlife along the way. Feel free to stop for photos, but don’t go near wild animals. During our hike, we saw so many mule deer at various elevation levels. 

Wildlife along the Bears Hump Hike
Wildlife along the Bears Hump Hike

A final set of steps leads you up to the flat top of the “hump”. At the summit, you can soak in the views. Take your time to admire the lovely scenery, sit down for a bit, relax and catch your breath before returning back, the same way down. 

While capturing photos, or trying to take in the view from the summit, be very careful of loose rocks and slippery surfaces. Depending on the month and season of visit, the top of the mountain can be foggy, slippery, etc. 

Popularity of Bears Hump Hike

Bears Hump is a popular hiking trail in the Waterton Lakes National Park. The postcard-worthy view makes this trail an absolute favorite of locals and visitors alike, as from here you will see one of the most iconic and recognized views of the Waterton Valley.

Bears Hump Hike from the top

Accessing the park is easy, and the route as shown above is well marked. During our hike, we have seen children, and hikers of all skill levels to be enjoying the trail.

It is a short hike, and can be completed in an hour. For the short distance too, hikers should just be aware that it is fairly steep – so exercise caution, and do take frequent breaks if necessary. 

The stunning views of the Prince of Wales hotel, the townsite, and the surrounding lakes in both directions are worth the hike and the effort. This is a family friendly hike for all, including fur babies.

Travel Tips for Hiking Bears Hump Waterton Lakes National Park

Here are some quick tips to enjoy your Bears Hump hiking trail, 

Peak season and crowds: As Bear’s Hump is a popular and accessible trail you can expect summer months, particularly May to October to be very crowded. Plan to start in the morning to beat the rush. If you are a novice starting in the morning will allow you to take breaks, stop and relax as you climb up. Climbing down is much easier and less strenuous. 

Amenities: There are no camping sites here, and washrooms are located at the trailhead access – by the Visitor Centre.

Wildlife: There is wildlife along the trail, particularly deer. Be mindful of their existence and do not go near them. Give them lots of space and never feed wild animals. We also saw signs of bears on the trails. Although we didn’t sight any bears, you must carry bear spray just in case. 

Wildlife Sightings

Safety: As long as you follow wildlife precautions, know that Bear’s Hump is safe for all hikers. Although marked as moderate, it is safe for novice, young kids, and pets/dogs. The hike is safe for solo travelers as well. 

The trail is well marked, and it is an out and back trail so there is no chance of getting lost. 

Packing items: Do wear comfortable hiking shoes or boots. Apply sunscreen, bring a bottle of water for your hike. It is a good idea to bring first aid and bear spray. 

We really enjoyed the Bears Hump Trail and it is one of our favorite easy hikes in Alberta Canada!

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