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 have on their bucket list!

Located right in town, it’s easily doable in under an hour – meaning you can have a full day in Waterton and enjoy this hike. Here’s how to hike Bear’s Hump in Waterton National Park!

Bear’s Hump Hike Guide

Waterton Lakes from Bears Hump HIke.

Bears Hump Stats

Infographic for hike length

2.3 km

Infographic For Hike duration

30 min to 2 hrs

Infographic For Hike Elevation Gain

214 meters

Infographic for difficulty of hike


Infographic For Trailhead

Bear’s Hump Trailhead

What’s the Story Behind the Name?

Waterton Lakes holds deep cultural significance as the traditional territory for the Blackfoot, which is comprised of the Siksika, Piikani, and Kanai nations. Bear’s Hump, along with Mount Crandell, was formerly called Bear Mountain by the Blackfoot Piikani due to its distinctive hump shape that looks like the outline of a grizzly bear from a distance.

According to Piikani tradition, Waterton Lake originated from the massive trenches dug by a giant, furious bear, who also piled up earth and rocks to form the surrounding mountains. As the bear eventually fell asleep, it transformed into the prominent landmark known as Mount Crandell.

Route Description

Bears Hump HIke.
The start of the trail

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.

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 to take a breather throughout the hike.

Hiking up the Bears Hump trail
Hiking up Bears Hump HIke.
Hiking up!

This hike is moderately strenuous, depending on your fitness ability, but thankfully, it’s only 1.4 km up, making it one you get to 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.
Said hi to a few friends on the trail

Once at the “top,” 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 as difficult in Alan Kane’s book, so it should only be attempted by serious scramblers.

Natasha at the summit of the 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.

Looking down towards the Prince of Wales Hotel
Looking down towards the Prince of Wales Hotel

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.

How Hard is Bear’s Hump Hike?

Bears Hump HIke.

The Bear’s Hump hike is one of the easiest I’ve come across in all of my adventures in the Canadian Rockies, but it’s still one of the best things to do in Waterton. 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 and abilities.

Gear We Recommend For Hiking in the Rockies

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

Looking at Waterton Lakes from Bears Hump HIke.

At just over 200 meters of gain and less than 3km of distance round trip, 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?

Looking down on the Prince of Wales Hotel from the 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!

What to Wear On a Hike?

natasha hiking mount bourgeau

The most basic principle of what to wear hiking is layering. Anyone who 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 body temperature, protect against elements, and manage moisture. Temperature management is best achieved through a layering system. We have an entire guide about hiking clothing in the Rockies if you want to learn more.

Looking for Other Great Canadian Rocky Hikes?

Hiking The Onion in Banff
Hiking The Onion in Banff

If you plan to explore more of the Rockies, this website details some of our favorite hikes!

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

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About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 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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