Running the Tamarack is bound to give one life long memories. Deep in Waterton's backcountry, up against the Great Divide, is some of the most awesome and impressive terrain and beauty to be found anywhere. Typically done in 2-3 days, three well kept trail camps with bear lockers, food prep areas, tent pads, and maintained toilets, are sprinkled along this trail.
It's hard for words to do it justice, so here's a slide show of this Tamarack Hike
Tamarack Hike can be done in either direction. A southbound run from the Red Rock Canyon trailhead to the Rowe Lakes trailhead on the Akamina Parkway, is described here.
Beginning on Snowshoe Trail
from the Red Rock Canyon upper parking lot, cross the bridge over Red Rock Creek. The trail initially goes through a regenerating burn area with views of the surrounding peaks. A couple of streams are crossed at the 1.4 and 2.1 mile marks. These streams are wide, with plenty of rocks to cross on.
Goat Lake Trail
is passed on the right at the 2.9 mile mark. Then a couple more streams are crossed as the trail leaves the burn area for beautiful fir forest. After 5.4 miles Snowshoe trail camp is reached and Snowshoe Trail
ends at Twin Lakes Trail
Twin Lakes Trail
Continuing in the fir forest on Twin Lakes Trail
, cross the creek and start climbing gently. The trail then follows Bauerman Creek upstream to its source at Twin Lakes. Still in forest, a couple switchbacks ease the way up a steeper spot and the trail then becomes flat until the 6.8 mile mark. Along this stretch, the trail pops out of the forest into small grassy meadows with Bauerman Creek running through the meadows and views of the steep forested mountain across the meadows.
Alternating between meadows and forest, at the 6.8 mile mark the trail begins a short climb to Upper Twin Lake. A well marked trail junction with Sage Pass Trail
is soon reached. Go left to continue on to Twin Lakes. The trail is flat as it crosses Bauerman Creek, the outlet creek of Upper Twin Lake, and arrives at Twin Lakes trail camp about a quarter mile later.
For almost its entire length, Tamarack Trail
runs very close to the rock walls of the Great Divide. Steep, sub-alpine, grassy meadows are at the base of these cliffs - this is the land of Tamarack Trail
. From these meadows, one looks up at massive, awe-inspiring rock walls of the Great Divide.
Leaving Twin Lakes trail camp, in 0.2 miles one passes Lower Twin Lake Spur
. Go straight here to stay on Tamarack Trail
. The trail then enters forest as it veers slightly away from the Great Divide to climb over Kishinena Peak's east shoulder. There are awesome views of Lower Twin Lake far below during this climb.
Returning to the base of the Great Divide with its nearby massive rock walls to the west, the trail is in the upper reaches of the Blakiston Creek watershed for about 3 miles as it runs through meadows, thin forest, and a burn area. The Blakiston Creek valley is seen to the east with rugged mountains forming its sides. A small tarn is passed at the 8.5 mile mark, followed by the Blakiston Valley Trail
junction at the 9.1 mile mark. Then shortly later is South Kootenay Pass Trail that leads to the Great Divide.
Continuing on beneath the Great Divide's rock walls, one reaches Lone Lake, a pretty lake set against the cliffs. Here the climb over Mt. Festubert's east shoulder begins. The climb is in thin forest with great views of Lone Lake below. Topping this ridge, one then descends in a burn area, that gives way to healthy sub-alpine meadows as the trail veers east to go over Lineham Ridge.
The climb to Lineham Ridge's high point and down is on loose shale for about 2.5 miles. The ridge's high point is higher than the Great Divide, thus providing awesome views of peaks further west in British Columbia. Basically awesome views in all directions.
Descending Lineham Ridge, the trail eventually leaves the shale for the green meadows, and then pretty forest. Emerging from the forest, at the Rowe Creek bridge, Tamarack Trail
ends at Rowe Lakes Trail
Rowe Lakes Trail
Cross the bridge, go through the small meadow, and into beautiful, lush fir forest to follow Rowe Creek downstream for 3.3 miles to the trailhead. Lower Rowe Lake Spur is passed at the 20 mile mark. Breaks in the trees reveal nearby rugged mountains.
From fir forests, to high, lush, grassy meadows, and barren alpine. Summer wildflowers. And the animals that live in such terrain - sheep, bears, pine marten, squirrels, chipmonks, deer, and more.