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A Comprehensive Hiker's Travel Guide for Bear Hump Trail

A Comprehensive Hiker’s Travel Guide for Bear Hump Trail 

Despite its whimsical name, the Bear Hump Trail stands out as a premier mountain trek in Canada, celebrated for its breathtaking vistas and the exhilarating challenge it poses to adventurers. 

If you’re setting your sights on this trail, it’s crucial to come well-prepared for the journey ahead. Let’s dive into everything you need to know to ensure a memorable and safe experience on the Bear Hump Trail.

Time Zone

Canada Standard Time (GMT-5)

Things to Know

Currency: Canadian Dollar (CAD)

(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: English 

Calling Code: +1

Address: Waterton Park, AB T0K 2M0, Canada

Start and End Point: The Bear Hump Trail begins and ends at the same location, making it an out-and-back route. It starts just outside the Waterton Townsite, offering a straightforward journey for hikers.

Trailhead Location: You can find the trailhead on the southwest side of Linnet Lake. It’s easily accessible, with a parking lot near the start of the trail for convenience.

Cost: Waterton Lakes National Park admission fees are as follows: 

  • Adults $11.00 
  • Seniors $9.50, with youth 17 and under free. 
  • A Family/Group pass costs $22.00. For those visiting more often, annual passes are available at $54.50 for adults, $46.50 for seniors, and $109.00 for families/groups. 
  • The Parks Canada Discovery Pass, offering year-round unlimited access to national parks and historic sites, is priced at $75.25 for adults, $64.50 for seniors, and $151.25 for families/groups.

Pets: Bear Hump Trail is pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your furry companions along. Just ensure they are kept on a leash and under control for their safety and the safety of wildlife.

Facilities: Toilets are available near the trailhead, ensuring you can get ready for your hike comfortably. However, remember there are no camping sites directly on or near the trail.

Wildlife Encounters: Wildlife is common along the trail, including deer and potentially bears. It’s crucial to maintain a safe distance from wildlife, never feed them, and carry bear spray as a precaution.

Hiking Boots: Given the trail’s steep nature, sturdy hiking boots or shoes are recommended. The path involves gravel and rock sections, where good footwear can make a significant difference in comfort and safety.

Parking Information: Parking is available at the trailhead near Linnet Lake and additionally at The Prince of Wales Hotel if the main lot is full. Early arrival is recommended to secure a spot, especially during peak times.

Trail Map and Navigation: The trail is well-marked and maintained, making navigation straightforward. However, carrying a map or downloading one on your phone, along with the 10Adventures App, can provide extra security and enhance your experience.

How to Get to Bear Hump Trail 

To reach Bear Hump Trail within Waterton Lakes National Park, you’d typically start from the town of Waterton. The trailhead is conveniently located near the townsite, making it accessible for visitors staying in or near the park.

  • From Waterton Townsite: The Bear Hump Trailhead is just a short distance from the center of Waterton town. If you’re staying in town, you can easily walk or drive to the trailhead. 

Look for signs directing you to Linnet Lake, as the trailhead is near this area on the southwest side of the lake.

  • Parking: There’s a designated parking area for trail users near Linnet Lake, which serves as the starting point for the hike. If this parking lot is full, additional parking is available at The Prince of Wales Hotel, a short walk from the trailhead.
  • Trailhead Access: Once you’ve parked, look for the trailhead signage and the start of the path marked by a wooden railing. The trail is well-signposted, making it easy to begin your hike without confusion.

Best Time to Visit Bear Hump Trail 

Optimal timing can elevate your Bear Hump Trail experience significantly. The ideal period spans from May to October, capturing the essence of spring’s renewal, summer’s vibrancy, and fall’s colorful tapestry. 

To avoid the crowds and enjoy gentler temperatures, embark on your hike early in the morning or in the late afternoon, when the light is softest and the landscape is bathed in a beautiful glow. 

Early starters will benefit from cooler conditions and less congested trails, enhancing the serenity of their adventure. Also, securing a parking spot becomes easier, allowing for a leisurely ascent and ample time to revel in the summit’s panoramic views. 

How to Hike Through Bear Hump Trail 

Media from ay_seeeel

Distance2.4 km (1.5 miles) round trip
Elevation213 meters (700 feet)
Duration1-hour round trip (excluding summit time)
Trail TypeOut & back
Surface Dirt path with rock steps

Step 1. Arrive at the Trailhead

Start your adventure at the parking area located directly across from the Prince of Wales Hotel. This spot offers a convenient place to leave your car before you head out. 

Upon parking, look for the beginning of the trail, marked by a wooden railing, which leads to the official Bear’s Hump trailhead. Here, an informative sign offers insights into the trail’s history and the significance of its name.

While the hike is rated moderate in difficulty, the ascent begins immediately—there’s no gentle introduction. However, the well-maintained path, marked by clear signs and a series of switchbacks, is designed to make the steady climb manageable for hikers of varying abilities. 

The presence of benches along the route offers welcome respites if you wish to catch your breath or simply soak in the views that start to unfold even before reaching the summit.

Step 2. Start your ascent 

Media from sinighang

As soon as you set foot on the trail, you’re greeted by an immediate uphill climb. The trail is known for its continuous ascent, without any flat stretches to catch your breath. 

However, don’t let this discourage you. The path is well-defined with switchbacks that zigzag up the mountain, making the steep journey more manageable. 

Along the way, as mentioned, strategically placed benches and lookout points offer perfect spots for rest and to enjoy the stunning views

Step 3. Navigating through the switchbacks

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Navigating the switchbacks on Bear’s Hump is an essential part of the journey, offering a strategic path up the steep incline. These zigzagging paths are not just a physical design but a way to integrate the hiking experience with the landscape’s natural contours. 

As you embark on these turns, each corner reveals a new view, gradually expanding the panorama of Waterton Lakes National Park with every step.

The switchbacks are a testament to thoughtful trail design, aiming to protect the fragile environment while providing a safe and enjoyable route for hikers. 

By following the designated path and avoiding shortcuts, you contribute to the preservation of the area’s natural beauty. Cutting through switchbacks can lead to soil erosion and damage to plant life, diminishing the trail’s integrity and the habitat it winds through.

Step 4. Reach the summit

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Upon reaching the summit, you are rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree view that makes every step worth it. 

To the left, the landscape stretches into the prairies, offering a unique contrast to the mountainous terrain. 

Directly in front and to the right, you’ll find spectacular views of Middle Waterton Lake, the town of Waterton, and Upper Waterton Lake, showcasing the area’s natural beauty. Behind you, the rugged Mount Crandell offers an imposing and beautiful backdrop​

Step 5. Enjoy the views of the peak

Media from 001shane

Upon reaching the summit, you’ll be greeted with sweeping views that make the climb worthwhile. 

Here, taking a moment to fully embrace the panorama is essential. Bringing along a light snack or a warm drink can enhance the experience, making the summit a perfect spot for a brief picnic. 

This is an ideal time for photographs, capturing the expansive views that stretch out in every direction.

Summit etiquette is important for ensuring everyone’s enjoyment. Being mindful of noise and space allows for a peaceful experience for all present. Also, safety should always be a priority; cautious distance from edges and adherence to any posted signs ensure a secure visit.

Step 6. Start your descent 

Media from nomedic_hikr

Beginning the descent from Bear’s Hump’s peak involves careful navigation back down the switchbacks to the trailhead. 

Descending, although generally faster, requires a thoughtful approach to ensure safety. The landscape’s beauty continues to unfold on the return journey, offering different perspectives of the vast wilderness.

On the way down, maintaining a steady pace is crucial. The downhill trek can be more taxing on the legs, particularly the knees and ankles, due to the constant gravitational pull. Slowing down on steep or uneven sections helps maintain balance and prevents undue stress on joints.

Using the switchbacks efficiently without cutting across them protects both the trail and the surrounding flora. 

It also minimizes erosion and preserves the path for future hikers. Staying on the designated trail is as important during descent as it is on the ascent, ensuring the natural habitat remains undisturbed.

The descent is also a time to be mindful of others on the trail. Yielding to those making their way up, offering a friendly smile or a word of encouragement, enhances the experience for everyone.

Where to Eat Near Bear Hump Trail

Red Rock Trattoria

Media from redrockwaterton

Address: 107 WindFlower Ave Box # 51, Waterton Park, AB T0K 2M0, Canada


Contact Details: +14038592004

Opening Hours: Daily 5–8:30 PM

Cost: $$

Nestled within Waterton Glacier Suites, Red Rock Trattoria shines as a year-round culinary haven, transitioning from its previous identity as Red Rock Café. 

With its hearty Italian menu, you’ll find fresh ingredients in its dishes that range from appetizers to pasta, complemented by an exquisite selection of Italian wines. 

As one of the few dining establishments in Waterton Village open all year, it serves as an ideal spot for diners seeking a cozy retreat following their park adventures.


Media from waffletoncafe

Address: 301 WindFlower Ave, Waterton Park, AB T0K 2M0, Canada


Contact Details: N/A

Opening Hours: Daily 7 AM–4:30 PM

Cost: $$

Waffleton offers a charming ring that echoes its delightful offerings. This seasonal eatery, set against Waterton Lakes National Park’s stunning backdrop, invites visitors to indulge in both savory delights and sweet treats. 

Known for its generous servings of whipped cream, butter, and fruit, Waffleton’s waffles and breakfast snacks provide a hearty start to the day or a delightful afternoon indulgence, all enjoyed within its quaint and friendly ambiance.

The Lakeside Chophouse

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Address: 111 Waterton Avenue, Suite 101 – Box # 38, Waterton Park, AB T0K 2M0, Canada


Contact Details: +14038592211

Opening Hours: Daily 6 AM–9:30 PM

Cost: $$

Lakeside Chophouse is celebrated for its global culinary influences while still honoring the essence of Western Canada. Think Mumbai butter chicken, Szechuan lettuce wraps, buddha bowls, cod and chips, and more!

The bonus? Lakeside Chophouse offers a summer patio dining experience, given the surrounding mountains and lake!

Zum’s Eatery and Mercantile

Media from zums.eatery

Address: 116 Waterton Ave, Waterton Park, AB T0K 2M0, Canada


Contact Details: +14038592388

Opening Hours: Daily 8 AM–10:30 PM

Cost: $$

Zum’s Eatery and Mercantile captures the essence of Waterton Lakes National Park dining with its laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere. 

Serving meals from morning until night, Zum’s welcomes diners to a space where comfort and eclectic charm meet. Whether you’re enjoying the expansive outdoor patio or the inviting interior, Zum’s feels like a home away from home.

Pizza of Waterton

Media from pearlscafe_waterton

Address: 305 WindFlower Ave, Waterton Park, AB T0K 2M0, Canada


Contact Details: +14038592660

Opening Hours: Daily 11 AM–10:00 PM

Cost: $$

For over two decades, Pizza of Waterton has been a beloved spot under the same roof as Pearls Café. 

Imagine relaxing with a cold beer and scrumptious pizza on an inviting patio until late into the evening—what more can you ask for? It’s the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploration. 

What’s the Weather Like in Bear Hump Trail 

The weather on Bear Hump Trail varies seasonally. Prime hiking months, July through September, offer the most stable and warmer conditions, ideal for exploring. 

Before late June, trails may still be covered in snow, and there’s a risk of avalanche hazards, making early summer hiking cooler and potentially wet. 

Trails can be muddier this time of year. It’s always wise to check current weather conditions and trail statuses directly through official sources like Parks Canada before heading out.

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