GDT – Stage 1- Waterton to Banff


Mt. Assiniboine

Distance:  309.1 miles (497.3 km)

Time:  10.5 days  (8/16/11 – 8/26/11)

Daily Average:  29.4 miles (47.4 km)


  • Waterton National Park: It is difficult to imagine a more spectacular beginning to a long distance hike. Literally one jaw-dropping vista after another.
  • La Coulette Ridge: Some of the toughest, most rewarding hiking of the entire GDT.
  • Kananaskis Lakes at sunset. The sublime views were only slightly tempered by an afternoon encounter of the bruin-kind.
  • Mt.Assiniboine: Matterhorn-like peak (see photo above) which is best seen in the early morning from the eastern end of Lake Magog. One of the most beautiful vistas I can ever recall.
  • Safe Haven B&B:  The place to stay in Coleman. Three meals. Comfy rooms. Hospitality plus. Alannah and Dan are the GDT’s number one trail angels……………actually, they are the only trail angels, but nonetheless this was my favourite town stop during the GDT.
  • Bear Street Tavern Pizza: Even if you are not resupplying in Banff, it is worth the trip in just for this pizza. In regards to accommodation, I enjoyed my first ever stay at the excellent YWCA………..who knew they accepted guys?


  • Castle Mountain to Coleman: Approximately 50km of viewless hiking on ATV trails. Without question my least favourite section of the GDT.

Notes & Musings:

  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The title of one of my favourite movies and a fairly accurate description of the day that I arrived at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The Good: Sunset over lower Kananaskis lake. The Bad: My resupply package which contained maps and food to get me through to Field didn’t show up. The Ugly: I lost a permanent crown; and I was no oil painting to begin with. On the bright side, I was able to buy replacement maps to get me through to Banff and the tooth that I lost was close to the back, meaning that I don’t look like a complete hillbilly (note: opinions may vary on this final point).
  • Bear Dogs: Whilst at Peter Lougheed I met an interesting woman by the name of Carrie Hunt. A bear biologist who has worked for more than 30 years in the field, Carrie trains Karelian Bear Dogs, a remarkable breed of canine which play an integral part in Carrie’s “bear shepherding” techniques. For more information on Carrie and her Bear Dogs, see


GDT – Stage 1- Waterton to Banff — 3 Comments

  1. What a amazing adventure Cam…The good, the bad & ugly days combine just make it all the more memorable :)! Good luck with your next hike.

    • Hi Ericca,

      That’s a very broad question. I’d suggest picking up Dustin Lynx’s detailed GDT guide book. It gives a good overview of the various sections of the trail.



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