Distance: 14.5 km
Elevation gain: 975 m View map Download GPS track
Sandra and I find it too exhausting to do two trips in a two-day weekend, but a three-day weekend, well, that has plenty of time for two trips! With fresh snow blanketing anything near Calgary we decided to head south again to Waterton National Park to hike up Bellevue Hill, a peak just a few kilometers from Lakeview Ridge, our destination on Friday.
The common route up Bellevue Hill starts from the Red Rock Parkway, but since it was closed today we had to walk along it for about 4 km to reach the mountain. This walk was very pleasant today and in under an hour we were standing at the base of Bellevue Hill. It was at this point that I realized I had no idea which route to take to the summit! For some reason I hadn’t done much research on the route, and while I did have two tracks loaded on my GPS, I don’t like blindly following a line. In search of an obvious path we walked a further kilometer further down the road, and while several potential routes up the steep hillside were apparent, I realized that I didn’t even know which bump along the skyline was the summit! Clearly I wasn’t prepared for this trip, but as it was an easy scramble I figured I could just follow a GPS track to get started and adapt on the fly if necessary. We thus backtracked to a point about 4 km from the car, climbed a short retaining wall, and began hiking up the very steep slope.
The hiking was easy through meadows, very light forest, and short patches of scree, sand, and rubble, but it was very steep and we gained 450 m over just 1 km. After that 1 km we reached the crest of the southeastern ridge and the ascent angle decreased considerably. A reasonable sheep trail existed for most of the way along the ridge and any areas that looked even remotely questionable from a distance turned out to be very easy. The views were constant and spectacular too and made the 2 km hike along the ridge very pleasant.
We reached the summit two hours after starting the ascent and were able to enjoy lunch in the sun on top for the first time in a very long time. The view of the main Waterton Peaks to the west was spectacular, of course, and we spent a long time just taking it all in. We haven’t done a lot of “real” summits this winter, and when we did it was too darn cold and windy to enjoy the views, so being able to enjoy the views today was quite restorative.
On our way up, once I figured out which bump was the actual summit, I’d been eyeing a rib that seemed to head from the summit all the way back to the road as a potential descent route. We decided to follow it and it worked perfectly, depositing us back at the road with near zero bushwhacking a leisurely hour after leaving the summit. It was then an easy walk along the Parkway back to the car. This route was much shorter than our ascent route, but the section we did along the ridge definitely made our route the better choice.
The one negative of this trip were the ticks. I’d been warned about this, both directly and from the fact that every trip report on Bellevue Hill I’d read in the past mentioned ticks, but we’d blindly hoped that they were exaggerated. They weren’t, of course, and we ended up finding 13 of them on us at various points during the hike. Remarkably none had bored into us yet, but they’re gross no matter what they’re doing. In some spots they were so abundant that I was able to spot them on the tips of grass as we walked. So yes, the reports aren’t exaggerating. If you’re on this mountain you’ll get covered in ticks