This hike was done on Saturday July 9, 2016. Curtis and I decided to stay over Friday and Saturday night, making it easier on us (and to give us more sleep). I would recommend staying at least the night before so you can sleep in a bit.
There are two boats to this hike: one at 8:30am and one at 9:00am. Buy your tickets the day before so you can make the 8:30am boat. The ride is only 15 min and you are starting your hike by 8:50. The hike itself wasn’t hard, but it was long. By my gps, it was 20km round trip. From the boat, it’s a steady but gentle uphill among lots of switchbacks. There is a creek that you can see from time to time, but other than trees, not much else until you get above the tree line.
The first falls you come to is Hells Roaring Falls. This adds 45 min to your trip so do it on the way back (it’s a side trail that loops around). There are three more falls, all within view of the trail. The second (or first if you don’t do the side loop), can be seen from a giant boulder that acts as a plateau directly infront of the falls. Take a minute to rest and snap a few pictures.
The trail now starts following the gullies and ridges as it climbs slightly. You hike into a few hanging valleys that are full of vegetation so be on the lookout for wildlife. We didn’t spot any but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. By this time, you should be seeng the next falls, or at least hear them. The water has gouged a canyon into he rock and because of this, there are only a few spots where you can actually see the falls. One such spot is right when you turn to climb up a steep embankment to be on the same height as the falls. A glance to your left shows the many layers of rock.
Continuing on, your hike takes you through more rocky territory than bush like what you came from. After a few minutes here, the last falls should soon be in sight. Huggin the left side of the valley, you’re afforded views of th falls pretty much all the way to the tunnel. If it’s sunny, make sure you have sun screen on as this side is exposed to the sun the entire time.
There is an outhouse just before the tunnels, if you have to go, now is your chance. Over the creek and the tunnel should be in view. It looks small from afar because it actually is small. When going through, strap your bag to your front rather than back, it makes it easier. Be sure to watch your head and footing as there are a few steps down to be aware of. Once through, climb down the cliff about 10 feet and then scramble up to the top of the ridge. There is a cable if you need but the path is very well worn and I am used to scrambling so it was easy without the cable.
Once at the lake, there is an option to walk around. We did and had to fight through some lingering snow. We quickly ate because it was starting to cloud over and get windy, then headed down to beat the rush (each boat carries 45 people and both boats were full, so the lake filled up fast).
The return trip didn’t take as long but we were exhausted and out feet were sore. We passed the majority of the hikers on their way up so the downhill was pretty much just us, it was nice to not have to fight with anyone for the trail. We arrived back at the docks at 3:00pm and soaked our feet in Waterton Lake for a few minutes. A tour boat was passing by and stopped to give us and 18 others a lift back to Waterton. By the time we reached mainland, it was pouring rain;we were thankful the boat stopped or we would have been soaked.
It’s a great hike and not difficult but long. Be prepared to walk 20km and you will be fine!