How to Hike Bear’s Hump in Waterton National Park

Bear’s Hump is one of the best things to do in Waterton National Park. It’s a great Canadian Rockies hike as almost anyone can make it up to Bear’s Hump and get incredible views over the park. On a clear day, you can easily see Montana from here. It’s a beautiful, short, and easy hike that any visitor to Waterton should do.

Located right in town, it’s easily doable in under an hour – meaning you can complete your days in Waterton with plenty of other things to do. Here’s how to hike Bear’s Hump in Waterton National Park!


Bear’s Hump Hike Guide

Bears Hump HIke.

Bears Hump Stats

Infographic for hike length
Length

2.3 km

Infographic For Hike duration
Duration

30 min to 2 hrs

Infographic For Hike Elevation Gain
Elevation

214 meters

Infographic for difficulty of hike
Difficulty

Easy

Infographic For Trailhead
Trailhead

Bear’s Hump Trailhead


Route Description

You have a couple options for starting your Bear’s Hump hike. As we were staying at one of the best Waterton hotels (the Prince of Wales), we parked our car here and walked across the street to the start of the trailhead to begin our hike. Bear’s Hump is also an easy walk from town if you are staying there.

There is a car park at the trailhead, but note that it is not large, and it may be full on the weekend. If this is the case, please don’t attempt to park on the side of Highway 5 – not only will this block traffic, but you’ll probably get ticketed.

Bears Hump HIke.

The whole hike up to Bear’s Hump is on a well-maintained trail. There are “stairs” throughout this trail held up by wooden beams, making the climb up and down easier. There’s absolutely no way to get off trail on this hike, but you will gain elevation quickly in a series of switchbacks. Don’t worry, though – there are numerous benches throughout the hike to take a breather at.

Bears Hump HIke.
Bears Hump HIke.

This hike is moderately strenuous depending on your fitness ability, but thankfully it’s only 1.4 km up, making it one you get put behind you quickly. Within an hour, you’ll reach the top of Bear’s Hump and be able to take in the vistas surrounding you.

Bears Hump HIke.

The views over the Waterton townsite and everything around Waterton Lakes are incredible. 99% of people will stop here, but it is possible to continue your ascent up to Mount Crandell behind – though this is rated a difficult in Alan Kane’s book, so it should only be attempted by serious scramblers.

Bears Hump HIke.

From the uppermost point, you get astonishing views of the Prince of Wales Hotel and the narrows that separate the Upper and Middle Waterton Lake. You’ll find a large rock situated perfectly for hikers to pose over Waterton.

Bears Hump HIke.

Waterton is one of the windiest places in Canada, so once you have been blown around a bit or are ready for lunch, descend the same way you came.


Gear We Recommend

Salomon Speedcross 5

Salomon Speedcross 5

The vast majority of hikes and easy scrambles in the Rockies, you’ll find us in our trusty Salomon Speedcross.

Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody

Arc’teryx Cerium

Arc’teryx Cerium is our pick for the best down jacket. It’s incredibly light, and we bring it on almost every hike in the Rockies.

Peak Design Capture Clip

PD Capture Clip

This nifty clip from Peak Design secures a camera to my backpack strap for easy reach. No more digging in the backpack!

Hiking Poles

Hiking Poles

A pair of durable and lightweight hiking poles are a great asset on the hiking trail. 

Gregory Nano Backpack

Gregory Nano 20L

20L feels like the ideal size for quick hikes and scrambles. We love the Nano from Gregory with a hydration reservoir.

Garmin Inreach Mini

Garmin Inreach Mini

There is not much cell service in the Canadian Rockies. In case of emergencies, we carry an emergency beacon with GPS.


How Hard is Bear’s Hump Hike?

Bears Hump HIke.

The Bear’s Hump hike in Waterton National Park is one of the easiest I’ve come across in all of my adventures in the Canadian Rockies. If you’ve completed Tunnel Mountain in Banff, you can expect Bear’s Hump to be easier than that.

It’s a great hike for beginner hikers as there is nothing scary or sketchy about it. The trail is well maintained for all ages to complete.


Gear We Recommend

Salomon Speedcross 5

Salomon Speedcross 5

The vast majority of hikes and easy scrambles in the Rockies, you’ll find us in our trusty Salomon Speedcross.

Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody

Arc’teryx Cerium

Arc’teryx Cerium is our pick for the best down jacket. It’s incredibly light, and we bring it on almost every hike in the Rockies.

Garmin Inreach Mini

Garmin Inreach Mini

There is not much in terms of cell phone service around the Canadian Rockies. In case of emergencies, we carry an emergency beacon with GPS.

Hiking Poles

Hiking Poles

A pair of durable and lightweight hiking poles are a great asset on the hiking trail. We’ll always  

Gregory Nano Backpack

Gregory Nano 20L

20L feels like the ideal size for quick hikes and scrambles. We love the Nano from Gregory with a hydration reservoir.

Arc’teryx Zeta LT

At only 10 oz, the Zeta is an excellent shell jacket that blocks out the elements without too much weight in the backpack.


Bear’s Hump Hike Duration

Bears Hump HIke.

At just over 200 meters and less than 3km, you can expect Bear’s Hump to take you less than an hour up and 30 minutes down, depending on your pace. It’s also a great trail to trail run in under 30 minutes round trip, or you can consider heading up to Bears Hump on a clear night to see the stars.


When Can You Hike Bear’s Hump?

Bears Hump HIke.

Being low elevation, Bear’s Hump is usually clear of snow in May and is good to hike snow-free until October. If you want to hike Bears’ Hump in the winter, make sure to bring poles and microspikes.


Should You Bring Dogs & Kids up Bear’s Hump?


Absolutely! Kids and pets will love this family-friendly hike. After you’ve completed Bear’s Hump, you’re ready for the Crypt Lake Trail!


Advice on Hikes in the Canadian Rockies


If this is your first time hiking in the Rockies, take a conservative approach. Pick an adequate hike for your fitness, plan for plenty of time, pack water and food, and don’t be afraid to turn around. If you want to learn more about what to wear hiking, we have a great post.

For long hikes, set a turnaround time at the departure. Whenever we set out for an objective, I determine a time at which we need to turn around to arrive at the parking lot or campsite by dark. I would recommend not hiking in the dark as it’s easy to get lost and it’s not fun in bear country.

On that note, always carry bear spray if you plan to hike in the park. We carry ours in the neighborhood, and bears have been known to stroll through town and busy parking lots. Always practice wildlife awareness when you’re on a trail, and please give animals space.

In regards to times, keep in mind your mountain fitness — different than the gym. The low end of this post’s low end is a constant fast pace uphill with little to no breaks and a brisk pace downhill. Most hikers should plan for a middle-of-the-road time with the estimated duration.

It’s also super important to know that there are limitations and to come prepared. These are very serious mountains, and it is easy to get in well over your head with life-threatening consequences.

Lastly, a GPS tracker could save your life – it’s one of those backpacking essentials I like to have on me just in case I need to hit SOS. Alltrails is our favorite app to have on a hike. It shows the correct trail way, elevation, and other hiker reviews. We paid the subscription fee so that we could download all the data we need to our phones. Best $2.50 (per month) ever spent!


What to Wear On a Hike?

The most basic principle of what to wear hiking is layering. Anyone that has spent time in the wilderness or mountains can speak to the fact your temperature can fluctuate a lot on a hike. You can easily start off cool at the mountain base and get hot as soon as you begin moving.

The goal of hiking clothing is to help regulate your body temperature, element protection, and moisture management. Temperature management is best done through a layering system. If you want to learn more about what to pack for a day hike or what to wear on a hike, you can see our full post!  Here are the best hiking clothes for men and the best hiking clothes for women.


Looking for Other Great Canadian Rocky Hikes?

About Natasha

Natasha Alden lives in Canmore, Alberta. After traveling across six continents and 80 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river.

Learn more on the about us page.

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