I’m going to start by saying that when you read reviews of hikes, you have to understand everyone has their own opinion on the difficulty of a hike. The reviews of Window Mountain Lake said easy to moderate so Rachelle and I figured it was perfect for me to pack little TyTy along. I would not call that easy! Read more later.
Rachelle and I did some epic hikes last year, Grinell Glacier and Cracker Lake. But this year, our schedules were always conflicting and before we knew it, school started up and we hadn’t been out yet. That’s ok- fall hiking is better anyway!
With Waterton still pretty closed up from the Kenow Fire, I’ve been heading out to Castle and Crowsnest this year, and I had heard Window Mountain Lake was an easy and beautiful hike.
First off, I am too old to drink a lot of wine and go hiking the next day. I was so sick that morning and the baby was super fussy so I had to sit in the back with him. The last 20km of the road to the trail is very bumpy and I almost didn’t make it without throwing up.
All the reviews talked about how it can be difficult to find the trailhead. So I’ll give you what I think are easy directions.
- Take a right toward Allison Creek off Highway 3 and when you hit the fork to Chinook Lake, go right toward Atlas Staging Area.
- It’s about 18km on this road to the trailhead and it’s full of potholes. Two of Rachelle’s car sensors went off from the terrain. We went extra slow because we didn’t know what to look for.
- You need to go over a cattle guard and the next trail on your left marked with a yellow diamond sign with an ATV on it is the road to take.
You can go up this road to the trailhead, but it is a pretty rough road, and as two sensors were already triggered, we decided to park at the bottom and walk the extra kilometre or so to the trailhead.
It smells AMAZING out in the mountains right now. I suggest you get out there right away and enjoy!
After walking up the road, we hit the actual trailhead which was marked with a sign.
The trail from this point is covered in large gravel-like rocks at a slight incline. If you have bad knees or ankles (or if you’re clumsy and have a baby strapped to you) it’s best to step along carefully and watch for any loose rocks.
Let’s talk about the reviews I read. They said that the beginning of the hike is a slight incline that was a moderate hike and then the trail levelled off. As we went up this portion of the trail, I thought how I wouldn’t call it moderate but since it went so long, it could be so to a beginner.
TyTy was having one of his rare off days this morning and he was a bit grumpy on the way up. He would go from babbling happily to complaining in two seconds. If Rachelle stopped to give him a smile or talk to him then he was happy. He just wanted attention- wonder where he gets that from? Ha!
There are a lot of trails shooting off the main trail, but spray painted rocks mark the correct trail.
But suddenly the trail started going up a ridge at a good incline. It wasn’t an easy incline, in fact, I was huffing and puffing as I slogged up. A consult with the AllTrails app said we were on the right track, but we were sceptical since the reviews said it was and easy to moderate uphill.
There were a few parts where the trail is hidden because you need to climb over a few rocks. Tricky with an extra 15 pounds dangling in front of me, but I did it.
After the uphill portion of the trail, we came into a dense and dark forest. The trail levelled out and then went downhill. But it was creepy. There was no sound but the trees groaning in the wind and it was gloomy with little tree cover. When I heard a crow cawing I said, “This forest is creepy. Like we’re headed to see the Wicked Witch of the West.”
When the trail opened up to a little meadow clearing Rachelle asked “Is this it?” And for a brief second I wondered if we had another Loon Lake on our hands. But I had seen pictures and knew the lake was a big one nestled against the mountains, not in a forest, so we kept on.
Very shortly, we saw water peaking through the trees and we came upon the beautiful Window Mountain Lake.
There is a trail that circles the entire lake that I wanted to take, but Tynan wanted out of that carrier, so we found a sunny spot and set up on the beach for lunch.
I was still too sick to eat, so I snacked on a few apples and some carrots and called it good. While we sat there, a large cloud covered up the sun and a cold wind blew in and it got real cold! I put TyTy in his Elmer Fudd hat and mittens and he looked so darn cute I couldn’t handle it!!
TyTy had a bottle and then was content to watch the water. He was fascinated by it.
As we were getting ready to leave, TyTy began getting really fussy and I recognized his “I’m sleepy” cry. I turned him around in his carrier for the way down since I figured that would be easier and within minutes he was snoozing away.
I did slip once on the way down, but it was a flat part so I didn’t hurt myself,. TyTy woke up with the jolt crying but quickly fell back asleep again. I picked my way down the steeper portions of the trail VERY slowly and carefully. I felt a little bad for Rachelle, wondering if she was annoyed at the slow pace and demanding baby. I don’t think she was, but in the future, I’ll definitely be warning my hiking buddies about what to expect.
When we hit the flat portion of the trail I was able to concentrate less on my steps and try to savour the fresh fall air and the beautiful colours.
It wasn’t until the last couple minutes before we hit the car that my back started to really ache.
It was such a great day! I always have fun hiking, I always have fun with Rachelle, and TyTy did so great on his first real hike of his life.
The first of many! I am so excited to expose this little guy to as much as I can and raise him to be a little outdoorsy guy.