Akamina Ridge is one of the premier hikes the Southern Rockies. The usual route involves following a well-maintained trail starting in Waterton Lakes National Park which passes over Akamina Pass and enters British Columbia’s Akamina-Kinishena Provincial Park. From there, clear signage leads to Forum Lake, then a well-used route is visible ascending from the northwest aspect of the lake towards the ridge. I followed this route last time I visited Akamina Ridge, 6 years ago. I decided to return to the ridge this weekend. I took a different approach this time, first climbing Forum Peak, which connects to Akamina Ridge, then carrying on with the ridge walk. Conditions were as good as they get for an autumn hike and I had a great day in the mountains.
Access is via the Akamina Parkway in Waterton. Just before it reaches the large parking area at Cameron Lake there’s a pull-out and parking area for the Akamina trailhead. This trail leads to Akamina Pass, which marks the provincial boundary. The usual route continues along the trail at this point, but I departed and followed a cutline to the south. I had come this way last winter when I made a snowshoe trip to Forum Ridge. I followed the same route again, ascending the “big hill” then staying on the ridge as the grade eased and I eventually got clear of the trees and could see down to Cameron Lake.
Straight ahead along the ridge I could see Forum Peak’s summit. The direct approach is guarded by some impressive cliffs. Kane describes the best approach to overcoming these in Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies 3rd ed. After climbing over one minor rock step, I followed a ledge along the base of the cliffs around to the right. It felt a little exposed, and I personally wouldn’t try this in anything other than perfectly dry conditions. After a little under 100m I saw what looked like a boot-beaten ascent route up “moderate” terrain. A cairn of exactly 3 very small rocks marked this spot – I wouldn’t count on it being there for very long. Regardless, the spot was fairly obvious. I scrambled up there then carried on picking my upward until I reached the summit ridge. From there I turned left and visited 2 cairns marking Forum Peak’s summit. It took 1 hour 52 minutes to reach the summit.
From Forum’s summit, I followed the connecting ridge to the west and soon found the Akamina Ridge trail. No further route-finding was required and I enjoyed the roughly 4 km of sublime ridge walking that makes Akamina Ridge such a popular destination. The weather was almost completely calm and quite warm, so I took a nice long break at Akamina’s summit. In an added bonus, I had the whole area to myself. I didn’t see another person until I was beginning my descent to Wall Lake. The descent route departs from the ridge at a spot marked with a fairly large cairn. The route takes a sharp right turn at the cairn (the trail to the right isn’t immediately obvious, so you need to be looking for it -hence the cairn). I saw there was a trail going left, too, though. I decided to explore that to see if it led to an alternate descent. It didn’t, though – it petered out at a col a short distance to the northwest, which I later learned is Bennett Pass. I small lake was visible in the valley below which my Gem Trek map says is unofficially “Little Wall Lake”. I backtracked from Bennett Pass and ascended along the trail to Wall Lake, then to Akamina Pass, and finally down to the trailhead.
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