Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada)

Waterton National Park was a particularly enjoyable landing spot that I knew nothing about prior and would happily go back and spend a few days hiking happily. We spent one night there, explored a bit then hopped across the border to Glacier, hiked the Grinnell Glacier trail in the Many Glacier region of Glacier National Park (east side) on a recommendation and it was incredible. Then on a whim that I couldn’t quite let go, we cancelled the next night’s reservations and hopped back across the border the next morning into order to do the International Peace trail between Waterton and Glacier National Parks, which was the first International Peace Park.

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Waterton Lakes from Prince of Wales Hotel

Since we did limited prior research, we turned the 8.5 mile hike into just over 10 since we hiked from town and spent a bit of time searching for the trail head. The Canadian side of the trail had a few handfuls of people and a good amount of elevation change as you wind along the lakeside towards the border. After crossing the border and checking off hiking/walking across a border from my life list with a handful of cheesy pictures you have a couple of options. First, turn around and hike back to Waterton or continue on to the US side and the Goat Haunt Ranger Station. At which point if you’ve prebought tickets and timed it right you can hop on a boat back to Waterton otherwise you turn around and hike the 8.5 miles back to town.

We had opted for the boat, but had a limited amount of time to make it to the boat, made more interesting since it took us a bit to find the trail head. This added to the adventure a bit since we spent the last ~4 miles on the US side speed hiking through waist or higher berries and brush, finding lots of berry filled bear scat, but not coming across any other hikers. This way, I suppose the husband felt his bear spray was well justified and we made sure to make lots of noise along the way.img_20160823_142609324_hdr

When you round into Goat Haunt and begin to encounter a few buildings the first people we ran into were full fledged US Customs and Immigration officers. As the hike winds down there’s signs warning you that you need to present your passport to the ranger station if you hiked in from Canada, but for some reason we were expecting a rather more casual quick glance by a National Park Service Ranger. Instead 2 Customs officers, complete with bullet proof vests and side arms asked us a few questions and stamped our passports, including a nice little goat stamp!

Thankfully we made it just in time to catch the boat and enjoy the leisurely ride back to Waterton before grabbing a much deserved beer and dinner at the Prince of Wales Hotel. The hotel has an unbelievable view, good food at reasonable prices – the perfect post hike stop. Then we hopped back across the border for our 4th time that day, laughed at the border officer’s warning to watch for cows in the road in the dark and then quickly realized how creepy black cows hanging out in the middle of road really are in the dark. A bit like crazed otherwordly beings attempting to thrwart your ability to drive safely.

And now this has somehow turned into a little hike trip report, but I’m going to go with it for the day. Plus, it’s well past time to get to the trip planning so that we have somewhere to stay next week!

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