Red Rock Canyon & Tamarack
Backpacking in Waterton Lakes National Park
©Outdoor Adventure Canada
in south western Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park has been part
of the world's first International Peace Park since 1932. In 1995 this
area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and is where the prairies
meet the mountains. Historically this area was a bison hunting ground
for aboriginal people and the oldest campsite, in Red Rock Canyon, dates
back 8400 years. Today the bison are found only in protected areas but
backcountry camping still remains.
Combining the trail from Red Rock Canyon to Twin Lakes
with the Tamarack Trail makes a great multi-day hike for the experienced
backpacker. The journey is about 32 kilometers long and it is recommended
that you take at least two days to complete it. You will need to arrange
transportation back to the trailhead. My suggestion would be to use
the services of the Tamarack Hiker Shuttle which has been in operation
for 80 years.
The hike takes you from the spectacular and unusual Red
Rock Canyon along the Bauerman Creek to the campsite at Snowshoe. You
then travel from Snowshoe to Twin Lakes. There is another campsite at
Upper Twin Lake. A low ridge separates the two lakes. You will continue
along the trail and see the Kishinena Peak to your right. Beautiful
alpine meadows encircle a small lake. As you travel toward Lone Lake
you will see the aftermath of broken timbers left by an avalanche. Lone
Lake has a campsite with a pole for hanging your food out of the reach
of hungry bears. There are several stream crossings along the route
and many breathtaking vistas. You will parallel Rowe Creek and eventually
reach the end of the trail but only after you take in the awesome view
of Mt. Linehan.
The Tamarack Trail is spectacular in late September and
early October, not only because of the stunning topography, but also
because of the tree it is named for. Tamaracks, also referred to as
the Alpine Larch, are a deciduous tree that shows bright hues of yellow
during the fall. This tree sheds its needles; a strange occurrence for
is biologically diverse and boasts over 900 species of wildflowers.
One such species is Bear Grass which does not grow anywhere else in
Canada. Wildlife is abundant but special care must be taken as this
regions hosts mountain lions, black bears and grizzlies. The long toed
salamander is also a resident of the park. Fish are prevalent in Waterton's
lakes including the Bull Trout, an endangered species.
You will see alpine meadows, glades, moraines, crags
and cliffs. You will travel through forest and along scree slopes. The
varied geology and abundant wildlife make this an interesting trip.
A camping permit is required and if you plan to fish you must purchase
a special license.
More information is available through the Waterton
Lakes National Park of Canada website.
Written by Laurie March