Happy 150th Birthday Canada! Heres an old post that I wrote last year on one of my favourite places in the Can Can. Highly recommend this beautiful place
The tiny buildings that lay near the shore of the lake go black as the shutter of your camera goes off. One of Waterton’s most popular sites is a tiny hike that can see of nature’s beauty. You need to drive through Pincher Creek, there’s so much beauty on the way to the Park. Twin Butte has this little general store that has the best Mexican food in Southern Alberta. Try it on the way back, when the sun is setting and the whole land lights up in the bright creamy orange. Nostalgic.
It’s a windy road, going around hills, the tall evergreens make a sudden appearance and magical how the world can go from prairie flatlands to a tall forest with large hills in a matter feet. Keep driving on the road, keep going straight and don’t turn off until you can see the large green sign that says Waterton Park, 250m. It’ll be on the right. There are gates with tellers. Beauty like this should be free but just pay the teller the price, trust me when I say it’s worth it.
On the left hand side of the road, the large beautiful Prince of Wales Hotel rests at the top of the hill overlooking the lake. There’s a grass area that is 360 degrees around the building. It’s the perfect spot for the camera to be to overlook the lake. The green and mahogany colour scheme that brings natural presence to the Park. The triangle patterns of the windows and roof bring you closer to it, it draws you in. As much as you want to, don’t turn left, not yet; you need to see the town in a different view first. It’s the perfect place to explore after Bears Hump Hike and after you settle your vehicle in the town.
You’ll probably run into a few deer when you drive to the parking lot. They tend to hang around everywhere. Don’t worry, they are pretty used to humans so they wont attack you or freak out if you get too close. It quite calming that they hang around the town, it makes you seem closer to nature and it cuts you off from the outside world.
You need to stop at “Bears Hump Hike” it’s the most photographed spot in the whole park. The staple photo of you visiting Waterton Park is looking from the top of the hike down onto the town. It’s a majestic view but first you need to get to the top.
It’s a small hike compared to the rest. Its total distance is 2.8 kilometers and takes an hour to hike it if you don’t stop. Stopping though, is the best part of the whole trail. The stairs leading to the top have benches every so often for pit stops. The whole trail is like a vertical park with benches. Every bench has a different view with things to always look at.
The beginning of the hike deceives most people; it’s flat and looks like a gentle walk in nature but actually its only flat until you can’t see the main road. Then, everything changes.
There’s energy that radiates from each step. Sitting at the bottom, you see all the tourists drive by, over looking the small things in the park. Every step and level you can see the real reason why the park exists. There are small ecosystems of animals and insects that vary from section to section. Squirrels hide in the plants that have overtaken the ground and tend to jump out whenever they feel like it. It’s fine though. I tend to think of them as guides that are leading you up to the top, just stay on the path.
The dirt beneath your shoes crunches with soil, twigs, and mulch. A calming sound when the world of hustles and bustles cram the brain with irrational and heavy thoughts. The beat and subtle noises makes for a great time to zone out and relax.
Those benches that you’ve passed are always great to sit and take a break with. Sit down and tune into nature, stare at the tree ahead of you and look at the detail. Those markings all the way around and up tell a story of things that you can only imagine.
It’s a busy trail so you are bound to make friends with the people that are going up and passing by. You all have at least one thing in common; you took the time to stop everyday life and take in what nature has to offer.
Near the top of the hill, the view slowly comes into play. Don’t rush the view, take your time because the first time that you see this, will be forever engrained into your head. There are so many places to look first, but I’d say, walk straight across as much as you can and look down. It covers most of the lake, the docks, the hotels and houses along with the waterfall that on the side of the mountain. The view could not get any better than this.
The colour of the lake is always crisp, no matter the shade or how much the sun is shining; the blue is always the focal point of the picture. Every time you look down or across at the continuing mountains and water horizon, it seems to uplift your soul. Your feet may be on solid rock but it makes you float above the clouds and away from all the problems of everyday life.
Those squirrels that guided you all the way are up are here running around, making the stone seem full of life. Those little things that hike has compassed has made the air feel still and full of magic. Anything that you can think of up here, you can do way down below. The air has empowerment and it fills you every time you take a breath.
Take as many photos of the place as you want, those memories you can look back at and help re-energize yourself when you feel low or need to escape from the world. The descend down should be blissful and slow. Never rush leaving a place that has nostalgia. The steps and benches will most likely look a little different as you have a clear head. It won’t step as hard physically or mentally to make your way down the trail.
This is just the beginning of Waterton Park. In the town, there are hotels, wanderlust themed restaurants that cover the walls with license plates from all over the world. An ice cream shop and gift shops surround the main areas of the town. People don’t normally drive everywhere in the streets, most walk or take the different types of bikes that the rental shop has. This mini town with deer, visitor centers, royal hotels, bikes, waterfalls seems like a bubble floating away from the rest of the world; you’ll never want to leave.
When you are ready to leave, slow down on the drive, pull over and take photos of everything because this place will always have subtle changes and the beauty of this place, you can’t find anywhere else in the world.