Bear’s Hump is one of the most popular trails in Waterton Lakes National Park. The reward at the top of this trail is well worth the climb. While this is a short hike, it will also be challenging for some. The views of Waterton townsite and the surrounding lakes make this iconic hike a must-do!
Waterton is fast becoming one of my favourite places to visit in Alberta. This summer we finally got up the Bear’s Hump trail and I can see what the hype is about. While we visited on a rainy day, the short hike to the top was still worth the view. This is one that most people will enjoy!
About Bear’s Hump Trail
Location: Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Distance: 2.6 km out and back
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (depending on fitness level)
Elevation: 221 m elevation gain
Time: 1 hour
Dog-friendly: Yes, but dogs must be on a leash.
Features: Bear’s Hump is conveniently close to downtown Waterton. The trail switchbacks up to the summit while gaining over 200 metres in just over a kilometre. You’ll be impressed by the views of downtown Waterton and the surrounding lakes. Bear’s Hump trail was completely rebuilt following the 2017 Kenow Wildfire.
Finding the Trailhead
The Bear’s Hump trailhead is located across the street from the famous Prince of Wales Hotel. You’ll find the parking area on the right on Highway 5 toward downtown Waterton. If you reach Waterton town, you’ve gone too far and will need to retrace your route.
The Blackfoot Indigenous peoples called this Bear Mountain because it looks like the grizzly bear’s hump from a distance. This shoulder of Crandell Mountain has become one of the most popular attractions in Waterton. Therefore, I’d recommend arriving early morning or later in the day for a more tranquil experience.
Hiking Bear’s Hump in Waterton
Bear’s Hump is a short trail, but you might still find yourself huffing and puffing your way to the top (especially if you’re not a big hiker). This 2.6 km out and back hike gains about 221 metres as you switchback to the summit. You’ll find a newly updated gravel path following the 2017 wildfire.
If you’d like to take your time, enjoy the view from benches placed along the path. As you walk up the hill, don’t forget to turn around for increasingly better views of the Waterton lakes. You’ll also spot the famous Prince of Wales Hotel; I’ve heard it’s worth stopping for their classic afternoon tea.
Once at the top, you’ll be enthralled by iconic views of the Waterton Valley, including the townsite and the middle and upper Waterton lakes. The summit alone is reason enough to head up this short leg burner. However, I also loved the amount of wildlife on the trail, including the five or six mule deer grazing beside the path (including two bucks!). After a few snaps with my camera, we continued on.
Know Before You Go
Crowds: Bear’s Hump is one of the most popular and accessible trails around. As such, this path can become overly crowded during peak season. Consider visiting in the early morning or later in the day to avoid large crowds.
Safety: While Bear’s Hump isn’t the most technical or challenging hike around, it’s still important to bring the right gear and know the risks. Bring hiking essentials like layers (including a rain shell), first aid, water, snacks, and bear spray. Be cautious on the summit as well, as dangerous ledges can be hazardous.
Wildlife: We saw several mule deer on the trail, and I’ve heard of bear sightings here as well. Remember to give wildlife lots of space and never feed wild animals. I’d also recommend carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it. Waterton is bear country and bears have been encountered on this trail.
Bear’s Hump Map
Have you hiked Bear’s Hump in Waterton? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments.
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