Waterton Lakes National Park
contains a surprising diversity of landscapes and climates (!) that are encountered within a relatively small area. There are often good conditions for skiing at the end of the Akamina Road, yet on the same day, little snow and balmy weather on the open prairie at the edges of the park, just 15 minutes away.
This hike starts off on the open prairie and gains elevation and views across as you enter Horseshoe Basin. We did this hike early in the spring when options higher up were limited. There is a trail that cuts across the prairie and up into Horseshoe basin but we were in snow for half the time and had to bushwhack through the trees to find the route that led up into the Basin. Once inside the basin we continued up and explored a couple of ridges to gain some views. The trail continues onwards (known as the 'Oil Basin' route.)
Overall a great shoulder season hike when avalanche conditions, snow (or lack of snow!) limit your options.
Note: The prairie at the base of Bellevue Hill are important over-wintering grounds for large numbers of elk. Treat the animals with respect and keep your distance; if you bring a dog, keep him on a leash.
Waterton Lakes National Park. Park off Redrock Canyon Road (see map)and head North on the path that cuts across the Prairie (alternatively start at the Buffalo Paddocks and head South).
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