We were staying overnight in the historic Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. I had read about the Bear’s Hump hike and the wonderful views it provided, so once we were settled in the Hotel, I planned to drag my husband and Brother with me to tackle the short but sharp hike.
The iconic Prince of Wales Hotel was built in 1926/27 by the Great Northern Railway of the US to try to lure tourists during the Prohibition era. Though named for the Prince of Wales, he never actually did stay at the hotel and it was designated a Canadian National Historic Site in 1995. The main lobby is very impressive, with a wall of windows opening to the view up Waterton Lake and a huge iron chandelier hanging in the middle.
There is just one small operator controlled lift to take your luggage up to your room, if like us you are on the 3rd floor. Our room had a mountain, partial lake view and had one double bed and one single, with a small private bathroom. With squeaky floorboards and not much soundproofing, you are often reminded of the age of the hotel, but for me it was all part of the experience. The staff are great, dressing in kilts made of the Price of Wales Tartan, and very helpful and informative. One in particular, named Lucky, was later to be found giving a talk to those hanging out in the lobby area about the history and facts of the historic hotel.
So having dropped our bags to our room, we headed of to the start of the hike, for which we just had to walk the short distance down the driveway of the hotel and across the main road to where the Visitor Centre was located. The hike starts right from the car park area and after the first 50 feet or so you come across a sign giving details for the hike. Even though it is a short 1.2 km or 0.75 miles, it has an elevation gain of around 700 feet in that short distance and says to allow 1 and half hours to complete. I think, with the time we spent at the top, it took us close to that amount of time to do it ourselves.
To start out the path is a smooth uphill, with occasion steps, but the further you go the steeper it seems to get and in among the rocks are placed the steps which are very uneven.
This makes it hard to get into a rhythm as you walk up, constantly having to alter your stride with some steps a lot higher than others, particularly if you are relatively short like me! In this photo you can see my husband and brother having fun with it, but I might add this picture was taken on the way back down. On the way up we were all huffing and puffing too much to worry about taking photos.
I consider myself fairly fit, but found that I had to stop at intervals just to catch my breath. Rounding the last bend in the trail I saw my brother up ahead on the rocky outcrop and shouted out to him “is it worth it?”, and though too out of breath to shout back, he gave me a big nod and thumbs up. Another 100 feet or so as I scrambled up onto the rocky top and the fabulous view opened up before me and it sincerely is very well worth the effort.
The town of Waterton is spread out below you and as you look south up Waterton Lake, you see the US in the distance as the border is just over halfway down the lake. Looking in the other direction you look down on the historic Price of Wales Hotel and the other end of the lake.
Having spent plenty of time enjoying the view and taking photos, we headed back down the trail. On the way we passed many people heading up, and nearly all of them asked us how much further they had to go which I found amusing, but felt bad when some of them weren’t even half way up there yet. I did try to console them by saying that it really was worth the effort to get to the top and see that view.
We walked back to the hotel and after some freshening up, headed into Waterton to find some much deserved food, which you can read about in my Waterton food post.
Date of visit; 6th August 2017