North Boundary Trail

North Boundary Trail

The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is the first international peace park and the only two trails that connect them are the Waterton Lake trail and the Boundary Trail.

The Waterton Lake trail starts at Goat Haunt (which is the US Port of Entry in the park) and extends all the way into the town of Waterton. It runs fairly level along the shores of the magnificent Waterton Lake ducking in and out of the trees all the way to the border where you’ll find a campground on the Canadian side. You’ll also know that you’re crossing the border by observing the giant swath cut out of the forest as well as pillars with writing on all four sides of them describing which country’s side you’re on and when the treaty was established between the two countries.

About a third of a mile south of the border on the Waterton Lake trail, the North Boundary trail takes off and follows Boundary Creek until it heads back up into Canada towards Summit Lake. It starts off meandering through lodgepole forest, then changes to a denser forest as you proceed into the canyon. There, the creek tumbles and dances over rocks and into pools. The trail gains some elevation, then undulates for a bit and then levels off into a more open forest lacking views. The trail turns north and begins to gain some elevation and you come to the US/Canadian border once again at the 49th parallel. The trail continues on and forks where taking the left fork will bring you to Cameron Lake and the right fork will take you to the Carthew-Alderson trail and dump you into the town of Waterton.

Being in a remote part of the park, most visitors in this area take the boat up and down the lake for the day or to start out a longer trek. Because of this, you’ll probably not see a soul out there save for the trail crew if they happen to be working in that area.

North Boundary Trail

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13 responses to “North Boundary Trail”

  1. Mike Kinsella Avatar
    Mike Kinsella

    What were the logistics? Did you take the Waterton boat to Goat Haunt? That would have given you a late start. When you came back, did you just turn left and hike into Waterton to finish?

    1. hike734 Avatar
      hike734

      Well this was actually part of my big eight day trek. Details as follows:

      Day 1 was hiking up and over Flattop to Fiftymountain and camping.
      Day 2 was hike down to Kootenai Lakes.
      Day 3 was Porcupine Lookout, then move camp to the Goat Haunt shelters.
      Day 4 was Waterton Lake to North Boundary and back to Goat Haunt… finishing up the day with the overlook (I was whipped!)
      Day 5 was back to Fiftymountain
      Day 6 was to Granite Park
      Day 7 was up and over Swiftcurrent Pass (with the Lookout) to the backcountry reserved sites at Many Glacier
      Day 8 was up and over Piegan Pass

      1. Mike Kinsella Avatar
        Mike Kinsella

        I’m going to have to take a nap just thinking about that, especially Goat Haunt up to Fifty Mountain. You haven’t posted Swiftcurrent yet, have you?

        1. hike734 Avatar
          hike734

          Nope… it’s in the queue, but before you get too excited about it, it was a miserable day, so you aren’t going to get the amazing views, just a window into suffering. 😉

  2. steve callihan Avatar
    steve callihan

    Jake-
    Great blog and website! Thanks for all the info. We are going to Glacier for a week (end of July – Aug 3rd) Staying at St Mary’s, just outside the park. Lonely Planet raves about Waterton’s Carthew Alderson trail (and crypt trail).
    -note both authors from UK! (the book guide includes Bamph and Jasper).
    In your opinion, is it worth missing one of your top 6 hikes in Glacier to make the Waterton hike/Prince of Wales hotel/Cameron falls? I know its all subjective, but have you been there? I’d really appreciate your opinion. Thx in advance -Steve

    1. hike734 Avatar

      That’s a tough one, but I would probably do Carthew-Aldersen again over the last couple. If you were really motivated, you could do Iceberg Lake and Ptarmigan in a day. I would do those over Crypt I think as you go to Crypt with a herd as you go with the boat. It’s a little busy because people aren’t as spread out. Hope that helps a bit!

      1. steve callihan Avatar
        steve callihan

        Jake-
        Thx for all your help!

        We are flying into Kalispell airport Wed at 1:00pm from Myrtle Beach,SC.
        Plans:
        Wed pm: GSTR and take in Hidden Lake and St Mary/Virginia Falls on way to our weeks rental house in St Marys. (noted your advice on not trying to cram Avalanche with other stops)
        Thursday: Highline
        Friday:Grinnell
        Saturday: Pitamaken tunnel/Iceberg combined (do you recommend the tunnel first, then backtracking to iceberg lake?)
        Sunday:Siyeh pass
        Monday: Pitamaken/Dawson
        Tues:Carthew/Alderson;Waterton falls–back to Kalispell
        Wed-fly home.
        Big Q: Last year we hiked Half dome at Yosemite in a day and had Quad fatigue for the next 1-2 days… so we are saving Dawson/Pitamaken for last to see how we feel by Monday. Wonder if PitanakenTunnel/ Iceberg will be just as tough as P/D or Halfdome?
        I’m 62 y.o. but active hiker/runner…may “prefer to hike” Avalanche by weeks end instead!!!
        Our other thoughts were to take the train tour or a boat ride if we feel we need a day’s rest.
        We are going to try to visit the various Beautiful Lodges on our journeys…
        Whew… anything else we should think of as alternatives to a hike in case of trail closure (bears), bad weather, or tired legs? Nightlife/music tips? Traveling with my kids/spouses (late 20s-30s)
        Sorry this is so lengthy–Any thoughts on our plans from you or your readers would be very welcome!

        1. hike734 Avatar

          I think your plan sounds great! You do run a risk of working your quads (and knees), but let your body be your guide. 😉

          I’d consider doing a Bullhead Lake day as a nice alternate or perhaps a boat ride across Two Medicine, then a nice hike up to Upper Two Medicine. You’ll get Twin Falls and a very nice lake for lunch.

          I love the big lodges at Lake McDonald, East Glacier, and Many Glacier. When in East Glacier, think about dinner at Serrano’s. It’s delish! I’m not sure there are a lot of “nightlife” things out there on the east side. you’ll see what I mean when you get there. 😉

  3. steve callihan Avatar
    steve callihan

    Thanks, Jake!
    C U down the trail…

    -smc

  4. Do you know if this trail will be clear of snow by mid June? Thanks in advance

    1. Tough call. Guessing snowpack is a tricky business. My guess is that some of the trail will be open, but you’ll still encounter late snow. The trail is all low-angle, so it wouldn’t be dangerous, just a lot more work. Keep in mind of where you’re heading once you cross the border to the north if it’s higher elevation.

  5. dawn ann navarro Avatar
    dawn ann navarro

    Hey there Jake, my friend and I are trying to do all the 734 she is almost done and thus north Boundary is on our list for this summer. She is looking to go in at waterton take boat across get camp site at Boundary bay if possible we already reserved WAT on US side if we can’t get or keep and make for a 3 day 2 nighter but saw you video was done in Sept with lots of creek crossing…do you think doable end of July if we can get reservations???

    1. Jake Bramante Avatar
      Jake Bramante

      Hello Dawn! First of all, I’m excited to hear that you’re getting close to hiking all of the trails! That’s obviously quite the feat as I know that you know. 😀

      I’m not sure how helpful I can be on letting you know whether or not those crossings will be doable. All of the Boundary Creek crossings are bridged and I’d make sure that they were installed first. It seems like they installed them on 7/13 last year, so you’ll want to check that on the park’s trail status page.

      In regards to the creek crossings that I mentioned in the video, I believe those were unnamed seasonal streams. I’m guessing those will require you stepping in the water. I’d bring trekking poles for sure!

      This one will be an adventure in July. You probably will have some downfall as well if the trail crew hasn’t gone through there… and bring bug spray!

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