Kootenai Brown Peak

Kootenai Brown Peak near Waterton Park Gate, AB

This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars This trail was given a rating of 5 out of 5 stars
28 kms
Fall, Summer
Waterton Park Gate, AB
User bfcoffey

Note - time and distance are for a 28km loop. Total elevation gain is about 4,600'.

Mounts Bauerman, Kootenai Brown, Lost and Anderson form a continuous chain of mountains in the Red Rock Canyon area of Waterton Lakes National Park. What differentiates this outing from just another ridge walk is the fact that these are all named peaks, the elevation gain and loss is more than normal ridge walks and they are all geographically individual in character.

This mountain could be approached directly from below on the Blakiston Valley Trail. However, this would require a lot of unpleasant bushwacking. It could also be approached from Lost Mountain or Mount Bauerman. Either approach would probably involve climbing all 3 mountains, or you could drop down off Kootenai Brown to the Blakiston Valley Trail. However, I don't know what that would involve since we didn't go that way.

On this day we decided to approach from the west. Both options start at the Red Rock Canyon parking area. The Twin Lakes Trail is a 25km loop which actually circles these four mountains. So you could approach from the north or the south. We took the Blakiston Creek side of the loop and travelled in from the south side of the mountains (see map). This 11.5km trail in is mostly flat, rising in the last 2-3km to an obvious high point above Twin Lakes called the Bauerman Divide. Here you will also find a large cairn. There is no other reason for this cairn than to indicate that it is the high point and to turn up the ridge onto Mount Bauerman. Those who aren't climbers and wouldn't think to leave the established park trails are merely left to wonder why it's there.

The trail up to Mount Bauerman is about 2km, straight forward and not steep at all. It's the easiest part of the day. So if you just want a long day in the mountains with an easily attainable summit, this one is for you. Angle left when you head into the trees. You will eventually come a trail at the top of the cliff above the Bauerman Creek side of the range with nice views of Twin Lakes below. Follow this trail up until it opens onto open rocky slopes on a nice broad ridge. Follow this ridge to the summit. There is nothing there to mark the spot except a little pile of rocks.

Our second peak of the day was Kootenai Brown Peak. This is not the official name at this time (Sept '08) but hopefully soon will be. This peak is about 3.5km from Bauerman and involves about 600' of downclimbing and then about 1100' back up. Although none of this trip is technical in nature some of the ridges we traversed could be a little daunting to those with vertigo problems. You don't really need to walk right along the cliff and you aren't right on the precipice anyway. That would be inviting disaster on a (typically) windy day. The lower part of the ridge is treed so can be a break if it's windy. Continue up this steepish slope out of the trees to a false summit. Turn left and continue on much gentler slopes to the true summit. We built a cairn and left a summit register here for future visitors.

From here you can continue on to Lost Mountain or backtrack to the south summit of Kootenai Brown and then drop down to the Blakiston Valley Trail. The choice is yours.

Kootenai Brown Peak is (soon to be) named for John George "Kootenai" Brown. Born in Ireland in 1836, he passed though the Waterton Lakes area in the summer of 1865 and wrote, "This is what I have seen in my dreams, this is the country for me." He would return twelve years later to play a pivotal role in the development and history of this area which so impressed him. Those twelve years would see Kootenai wounded in the back by a Blackfoot arrow (it is said that he pulled the arrow out himself and treated the wound with turpentine), spend time as a Pony Express rider, endure capture by Sitting Bull and a band of Sioux, and then subsequently escape. Kootenai was instrumental in lobbying the Canadian government to set aside an area for future generations and when the area became Waterton National Park in 1911 he was appointed the park's first superintendent. He continued to serve as a park ranger until his death in 1916. He is buried along the shores of Lower Waterton Lakes.

The last photo shows the final approach from Mount Bauerman.


From Red Rock Canyon, cross the creek and take the left (south) trail to Blakiston Falls. Follow this trail for 11.5km to what's called (but not signed) Bauerman Divide. This is an obvious height of land above Blue Grouse Basin and Twin Lakes. There is a large cairn (photo) at the point where you will start up through the trees towards Mt Bauerman.


Please check the bottom of the Description (above left; click) for the author's written directions.

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