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Bellevue Hill

Summit Elevation (m): 2110
Trip Date: Saturday, May 01 2021
Elevation Gain (m): 785
Round Trip Time (hr): 3
Total Trip Distance (km): 7.5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class II / III – you fall on the crux on the SE ridge you could break a leg otherwise it’s just hiking
Difficulty Notes: The SE ridge is easy to moderate scrambling the south ridge is just a steep hike
Technical Rating: SC5
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Due to a mixture of boredom and longing for summer scrambling season to begin, I’ve been fixing up some of my older trip reports over the past few weeks. Recently I was poking around with Phil and my long day on Vimy, Arras and GR939323 and this got me thinking of how much I love the Waterton Lakes National Park area. While musing on many past forays along Waterton’s tight valleys and wonderfully colored peaks I realized I still hadn’t done one of the easiest official summits there yet – Bellevue Hill. I’d been saving this little gem for many years, keeping it as a backup objective in case I ever made the long drive for another objective and couldn’t do it for whatever reason. After finally standing on the summits of Mount Dungarvon and Glendowan last year I was now pretty much done with official Waterton summits, only having a few left and not “premier” ones. I decided I was in the mood for a nice long drive down highway 22 and an easy solo outing for the first day of May 2021. After some basic research on my planned objective I realized two things. Firstly, there was a fun sounding loop route that Cornelius Rott did that I was keen to try. Secondly, May 1st 2021 was the opening day for the Red Rock Canyon Parkway so I wouldn’t even need to bike the approach as I was originally planning to do.

Bellevue Hill Route Map

The Waterton Lakes Information Center emailed me back on my inquiry for details regarding the opening of the Red Rock Parkway. They were a bit vague on the details. Apparently the parkway would “likely open May 1st but there’s no guarantee as it’s conditions dependent”. Also they indicated if it did open it would likely be sometime between 08:00 and 09:00 but again – no guarantees. The smart move was to bring a bike, get to the gate at 07:00 and bike the 3.5 kms to the start of the SE ridge. That would have me hiking up the SE ridge before the parkway even opened. As you’ve probably guessed already, I didn’t do the smart thing for some reason. To make a long story short I ended up waiting at the closed gate for almost 2 hours before a member of the parks staff finally opened the parkway to traffic. Even more amusing is that despite sitting there by far the longest of anyone else a couple of vehicles still managed to beat me across the start line! Oh well. The weather was gorgeous and I chatted with a park warden for ages which was quite interesting. He filled me in on the role of the park warden since sweeping changes were made in the mid 2000’s. Once the gate finally opened it was a very short drive up the parkway towards a dry looking Bellevue Hill. I pulled into one of several little pullout options and started hiking towards the bottom of the SE ridge on a mix of dried grasses and Prairie Crocus.

Views of the Red Rock Parkway and Bellevue Hill’s SE ridge rising to the right. The hidden ramp just visible at upper right. Mount Crandell rising at left and Mount Blakiston at distant center left.

I wasn’t in a hurry whatsoever as I started ascended scree / grass slopes on the east side of the SE ridge. Why should I be? I knew the hike would only take me ~3 hours and the weather was gorgeous as were my views. Waterton rarely disappoints in the views department, usually it’s the wind that puts a tiny damper in an otherwise sublime outdoor experience here. After groveling up loose scree slopes to the obvious access ramp I was happy to see some actual scrambling ahead of me to gain the SE ridge proper.

The sneaky access ramp through east cliffs to gain the SE ridge of Bellevue is easy to moderate scrambling with great views and some exposure. Note my car parked along the parkway at lower left.

The access ramp was moderate scrambling at most with some limited exposure. I could see a hiker not appreciating it as much as I did. I was delighted to be scampering up dry, solid(ish) rock again! It didn’t last nearly long enough but the continuation of the SE ridge looked nice and dry and the views up Blakiston Creek and the parkway more than made up for any disappointment at a lack of scrambling opportunities. After all this was only supposed to be a “hill” and I wasn’t expecting much in the way of difficulties. I managed to find some more moderate scrambling by sticking to the ridge crest but soon the terrain slacked off and I was back to hiking.

The easy SE ridge rises to the false summit at right. Crandell, Lineham, Ruby Ridge, Blakiston, Anderson and Galwey from L to R over the Red Rock Parkway and Blakiston Creek valley.
The Kenow wildfires of 2017 fried this whole valley making for some dramatic views.

There wasn’t much in the way of obstacles to the false summit, I barely even had to step on any snow. Evidence from the Kenow wildfire of 2017 is all over this area and makes from some very dramatic landscapes. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of peaks I could see from the false summit.

Views from the false summit back over the scenic SE ridge towards Sofa, Sarcee, Arras, Vimy, Boswell, Cleveland and Mount Crandell (R).

From the false summit there was a small dip along the ridge before a pleasant hike in light winds to the tippy top of the hill where a large cairn and obvious summit register awaited. The register was filled right up with bits of random paper (not sure what that accomplishes) so I didn’t bother adding my name to the mix. I did however, bother taking in the views and enjoying many pleasant days past as I gazed across the familiar landscape. As the winds were picking up I decided to stroll down the easy south ridge to the parkway far below where I could see a steady line of cars already filling the valley.

Summit views include (L to R), Cleveland, Crandell, Alderson, Buchanan, Forum, Akamina Ridge, Lineham, Ruby Ridge, Blakiston, Lone, Galwey, Dunwey (R). Lakeview Ridge just out of sight at right here.
Views over Middle Waterton Lake to Sofa, Sarcee, Arras, Vimy Ridge, Vimy Peak, Mount Boswell and Mount Cleveland / Stoney Indian Peaks (R).
Descending the easy south ridge (C) towards the Parkway far below. The SE ascent ridge at left.

The south ridge was easy – as expected. Barely scrambling at all, more of an OT3 hike. Combining Bellevue with Mount Galwey would be a nice option – I almost considered a repeat but didn’t trust that the crux would be snow and ice free. Near the bottom of the ridge I was delighted to see purple and yellow color in all the rock and dead trees and grasses. 

As I hiked back to the car along the parkway I was not surprised to see the first “bear jam” of the season just in front of me. It was a bit amusing to stride right past a mama and cub (black bear) in the burned out forest as people were videoing and photographing the scene from their vehicles. Just another bear folks. Move on. I found myself smiling as I walked in warm sunshine past the lower SE ridge and back to my car with sweeping views to the lakes and Vimy Peak rising beyond. Waterton Lakes National Park is a special place – no doubt about it. For some reason driving 5 hours to sit around for 2 hours and wait for a gate to open just to hike 3 more hours seemed worth it. That doesn’t happen just anywhere. 

Bellevue Hill
60 photos
The SE ridge of Bellevue Hill rises to the right off the Red Rock Parkway.
The SE ridge of Bellevue Hill rises to the right off the Red Rock Parkway.
The diagonal ramp just ahead.
The diagonal ramp just ahead.
Bikers on the parkway.
Bikers on the parkway.
Find the bikes on the parkway far below me now.
Find the bikes on the parkway far below me now.
Views from the bottom of the ramp - easy to moderate scrambling.
Views from the bottom of the ramp - easy to moderate scrambling.
Views back to the Waterton Park entrance and the lower lake from the ramp.
Views back to the Waterton Park entrance and the lower lake from the ramp.
Ruby Ridge (L), Mount Blakiston and Lost and Anderson Peak (R).
Ruby Ridge (L), Mount Blakiston and Lost and Anderson Peak (R).
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Great Waterton colors as I scramble the easy SE ridge.
Great Waterton colors as I scramble the easy SE ridge.
I love how the prairie meets the mountains here.
I love how the prairie meets the mountains here.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Views back to Lower and Middle Waterton Lake.
Views back to Lower and Middle Waterton Lake.
Mount Galwey was my first Waterton peak way back in 2004 I think.
Mount Galwey was my first Waterton peak way back in 2004 I think.
Mount Blakiston rises over the closed Crandell Camground.
Mount Blakiston rises over the closed Crandell Camground.
The Kenow wildfires burned everything in this area back in 2017.
The Kenow wildfires burned everything in this area back in 2017.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
The Kenow wildfires burned everything in this area back in 2017.
The Kenow wildfires burned everything in this area back in 2017.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Scree and ledges on the SE ridge.
Views back to Mount Crandell at right with Vimy at distant center.
Views back to Mount Crandell at right with Vimy at distant center.
The Kenow wildfires burned everything in this area back in 2017.
The Kenow wildfires burned everything in this area back in 2017.
Views to the north off the false summit towards Lakeview Ridge.
Views to the north off the false summit towards Lakeview Ridge.
The summit of Bellevue in front of Galwey and Dunwey peaks.
The summit of Bellevue in front of Galwey and Dunwey peaks.
A very scenic view from the false summit back down the SE ridge towards the Waterton lakes.
A very scenic view from the false summit back down the SE ridge towards the Waterton lakes.
Views over Forum Peak and Akamina Ridge towards Kintla and Kinnerly Peak.
Views over Forum Peak and Akamina Ridge towards Kintla and Kinnerly Peak.
Views to Stony Indian (L) and Cathedral Peak.
Views to Stony Indian (L) and Cathedral Peak.
Sofa (L), Vimy, Boswell, Cleveland, Stoney Indian, Cathedral and Wahcheechee Mountain (R).
Sofa (L), Vimy, Boswell, Cleveland, Stoney Indian, Cathedral and Wahcheechee Mountain (R).
Mount Galwey at right. Anderson, Lost, Blakiston, Ruby, Lineham and Akamina Ridge (L).
Mount Galwey at right. Anderson, Lost, Blakiston, Ruby, Lineham and Akamina Ridge (L).
Views over Forum Peak and Akamina Ridge towards Kintla and Kinnerly Peak.
Views over Forum Peak and Akamina Ridge towards Kintla and Kinnerly Peak.
Hiking to the summit of Bellevue Hill.
Hiking to the summit of Bellevue Hill.
Hiking to the summit of Bellevue Hill.
Hiking to the summit of Bellevue Hill.
Ruby Ridge (L) and Mount Blakiston over the burned Crandell Campground.
Ruby Ridge (L) and Mount Blakiston over the burned Crandell Campground.
Views over Crandell Lake and Forum Peak / Akamina Ridge towards Kintla and Kinnerly Peak.
Views over Crandell Lake and Forum Peak / Akamina Ridge towards Kintla and Kinnerly Peak.
Langemark Mountain to the west.
Langemark Mountain to the west.
Cleveland (L), Crandell, Alderson, Buchannan, Forum, Akamina, Lineham, Blakiston, Galwey, Dunwey.
Cleveland (L), Crandell, Alderson, Buchannan, Forum, Akamina, Lineham, Blakiston, Galwey, Dunwey.
Sofa (L), Sarcee, Vimy, Boswell, Cleveland and Stoney Indian Peaks (R).
Sofa (L), Sarcee, Vimy, Boswell, Cleveland and Stoney Indian Peaks (R).
Kintla and Kinnerly rise impressively over Forum Peak and Akamina Ridge.
Kintla and Kinnerly rise impressively over Forum Peak and Akamina Ridge.
Kintla and Kinnerly rise impressively over Forum Peak and Akamina Ridge. Buchanan at left.
Kintla and Kinnerly rise impressively over Forum Peak and Akamina Ridge. Buchanan at left.
Mount Blakiston.
Mount Blakiston.
Lone Mountain at left with the south ridge of Kishinena and Langemark at center.
Lone Mountain at left with the south ridge of Kishinena and Langemark at center.
Mount Galwey and Dunwey (R).
Mount Galwey and Dunwey (R).
Lakeview Ridge.
Lakeview Ridge.
Mount Galwey can be combined with Bellevue Hill.
Mount Galwey can be combined with Bellevue Hill.
Descending the easy south ridge back down to the Red Rock Parkway below.
Descending the easy south ridge back down to the Red Rock Parkway below.
Descending the easy south ridge back down to the Red Rock Parkway below.
Descending the easy south ridge back down to the Red Rock Parkway below.
Anderson Peak.
Anderson Peak.
The Kenow wildfires burned everything in this area back in 2017.
The Kenow wildfires burned everything in this area back in 2017.
Mount Crandell at left is another fun scramble in the area.
Mount Crandell at left is another fun scramble in the area.
Views over the SE ridge.
Views over the SE ridge.
Local residents.
Local residents.
Spring flowers.
Spring flowers.
Spring flowers.
Spring flowers.
Spring flowers.
Spring flowers.
Spring flowers.
Spring flowers.
Hiking back along the Red Rock Canyon Parkway.
Hiking back along the Red Rock Canyon Parkway.
Hiking back along the Red Rock Canyon Parkway. Bellevue Hill at right.
Hiking back along the Red Rock Canyon Parkway. Bellevue Hill at right.
Pasqueflowers with Crandell and Bellevue in the bg.
Pasqueflowers with Crandell and Bellevue in the bg.
Views from the Bison paddock towards Crandell (L), Bellevue Hill and Lakeview Ridge (R).
Views from the Bison paddock towards Crandell (L), Bellevue Hill and Lakeview Ridge (R).
Views from the Bison paddock towards Bellevue Hill, Dunwey, Dungarvon and Lakeview Ridge (R).
Views from the Bison paddock towards Bellevue Hill, Dunwey, Dungarvon and Lakeview Ridge (R).

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