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One of most beautiful hikes ever; fir forests, alpine meadows, wildflowers, peaks, turquoise lakes, snow, roaring creek.

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Point to Point

7,671' 2,338 m


4,319' 1,316 m


2,247' 685 m


3,392' 1,034 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (22°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


The Carthew - Alderson Traverse is a one-way hike through some of the most beautiful mountain terrain that one will ever see. It goes through remote areas, and offers mountain vistas of the inaccessible North Lakes area of Glacier National Park.

Need to Know

The shuttle goes from Tamarack Outdoor Outfitters in Waterton Townsite. Reservations can be made. Walk-up riders are also taken on a first come, first serve basis. Check for the latest shuttle info. The shuttle does not run in the winter.

As a day hike, the Carthew - Alderson Traverse takes about 8 hours. It can be done faster, but then one risks missing all the beauty. It can take longer also, depending on the frequency and length of scenic rest breaks. It is strenuous - best to pack two lunches, and plenty of water and trail snacks, so the last part is not a drag.

There is a primitive campground at Alderson Lake with an outhouse. Permits and reservations are needed for this trail camp. They can be gotten online at the Parks Canada permit/reservation website: reservation.pc.gc.ca/.

Please review the Parks Canada


The Carthew - Alderson Traverse can be done in either direction. However, it is quite popular to start at Cameron Lake out on the Akamina Parkway, and hike to Waterton Townsite. Shuttle service from Waterton Townsite, stops at many points along the Akamina Parkway, including Cameron Lake.

Cameron Lake to Summit Lake
The Carthew - Alderson Traverse starts in a thick fir forest, along the north end of Cameron Lake. Beautiful views of Cameron Lake with Mt Custer at its other (south) end, can be seen through the trees. Leaving Cameron Lake behind, the trail climbs a series of switchbacks. The trees thin as altitude is gained, and the vegetation becomes a mix of meadows with wildflowers, and shorter trees. Summit Lake is reached shortly after the switchbacks end.

Summit Lake to Shoulder of Mt Carthew
Summit Lake is a small, sub-alpine lake. Looking across Summit Lake, one can see Chapman Peak and Mt Custer. Summit Lake is NOT the summit of the Carthew - Alderson Traverse. At Summit Lake, the Carthew - Alderson Traverse trail turns left, away from the trail that continues south to become the North Boundary Trail. After turning left, the trail continues through meadows and thinly forested sections. It begins to climb gradually to a ridge in the distance, the shoulder of Mt Carthew. As it climbs, the trees give way to low bushes, and a sea of peaks to the south comes into view, including Chapman Peak and Mt Custer. Soon, the trail begins to climb switchbacks on the bare slope of the shoulder of Mt Carthew. The views get better and better! A few dark turquoise lakes come into view at the base of the peaks. These are the inaccessible North Lakes in Glacier National Park. The switchbacks end on the shoulder of Mt. Carthew.

Shoulder of Mt Carthew to Carthew Lakes
The shoulder of Mt Carthew is the high point of the Carthew - Alderson Traverse. With magnificent views in all directions, this is a great place for a lunch break. From the shoulder of Mt Carthew, in the direction ahead, one can now see the three Carthew Lakes below. Beyond them in the distance are the prairies of Alberta. The descent from here towards the Carthew Lakes, is on a talus slope. The talus is made of small rocks and large gravel. The descent is gradual enough so that there is low risk of losing one's footing. Just above the first Carthew Lake, there is a snow patch to cross, even in late summer.

Carthew Lakes
The Carthew Lakes are three beautiful turquoise blue alpine lakes. They are nestled in the valley between Mt Carthew and the shoulder of Mt Alderson. They are surrounded by talus slopes and alpine meadows. Well shaded by the shoulder of Mt Alderson, patches of snow remain around them through the summer. The trail follows the shoreline of the two larger Carthew Lakes and is flat here.

Carthew Lakes to Alderson Lake
Veering away from the middle Carthew Lake, the trail begins a steep descent, as it heads to Alderson Lake. The descent begins over rocky and then bush covered terrain. As altitude is lost, the bushes become larger and short trees begin to dominate. The trees get taller, and one is in a thin fir forest when they reach Alderson Lake. Alderson Lake is a sub-alpine lake, surrounded by walls of Mt Alderson on the sides opposite the trail.

Alderson Lake to Waterton Townsite
Leaving Alderson Lake, one quickly finds themself in a thick fir forest, with many small streams to cross. These streams empty into Carthew Creek, that is at the bottom of the steep hillside to the left of the trail. The trail continues to gradually descend, as it runs along Carthew Creek, for about 3.1 miles. The trail then veers right, as it approaches the place where Carthew Creek empties into Cameron Creek. The trail then, without crossing Cameron Creek, begins to follow Cameron Creek, and Waterton Townsite comes into view. The trail continues to descend along its last .7 miles as it follows Cameron Creek into Waterton Townsite.

This is a segment of the GDT (Great Divide Trail): greatdividetrail.com

Flora & Fauna

Fir forests, sub-alpine meadows, alpine meadows, wildflowers, bare scree and rock.


Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

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  4.5 from 2 votes
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Mt. Custer (center) stands amid a sea of peaks as seen from high on the Carthew - Anderson Traverse.
Dec 20, 2016 near Pincher…, AB
Gorgeous views of Summit Lake, Chapman Peak (left), and Mount Custer (right) make the Carthew - Alderson Traverse a must-do.
Dec 20, 2016 near Pincher…, AB
Chapman Peak (furthest left), Lake Wurdeman, Lake Nooney, and Mt. Custer (furthest right) rise among a sea of peaks when looking south from the shoulder of Mt. Carthew.
Dec 20, 2016 near Pincher…, AB
On the Carthew - Alderson Traverse, Chapman Peak welcomes visitors through the trees.
Dec 20, 2016 near Pincher…, AB
Mount Custer offers a spectacular backdrop to any journey along Cameron Lake.
Dec 20, 2016 near Pincher…, AB
Carthew Lakes exhibit the beautiful blue-green water typical of a high-alpine lake.
Dec 20, 2016 near Pincher…, AB


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Jul 12, 2023
Claire Milligan
12.3mi — 6h 00m
Jul 28, 2016
Joan Pendleton
Sep 4, 2015
Roger Chesser
Jul 29, 2015
Khanh Vu
Jul 3, 2015
Chad Pitcher
With Paige, Ryan, Suzi, and Brady 12mi

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