Maintained by the Kootenay Backcountry Horsemen
0 km: Leaving the road, the trail climbs through the forest, switching back many times for the first 1.5 km. This steep section takes about 30 minutes and heads generally north, gaining about 274 m (900 ft.).
1.8 km: The path bends around to the west (left) and slides through a notch, a short gully with gently sloping sides, N31800-E50800, 2040 m (6,700 ft.). From the end of this gully, look northwest to another notch, 2 km across the sparsely treed rolling meadows of the plateau. Head toward the second notch on the well-made trail.
4.1 km: Reach a narrow gully and it’s the second notch, N33071-E49370. Don’t descend the narrow gully; instead look left for a trail marker on a tree. The trail makes a sharp left turn and heads uphill into the forest. The trail climbs again to the lake.
5.5 km: Baldy Lake, N33600-E48400, at 2080 m (6,838 ft.).
For an alternative route on the hike out, follow the forest section of trail until you reach the plateau. There you may want to climb the grassy ridge west of the trail and hike the short ridgewalk back to the first notch. The ridge is 210 m (700 ft.) higher than the plateau and is only 2 km long. Good views of Lake Koocanusa and Tobacco Plains area.
Baldy Lake Map
Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park Adjacent to national parks of Waterton in Alberta and Glacier in Montana
Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park
Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park (AK), in the southeastern corner of BC, is wedged between Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana. Today the combined protected areas are becoming well-known as “The Crown of the Continent.”
The headwaters of three major North American rivers all diverge from this mountainous region. The Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Mississippi rivers all start in “The Crown of the Continent” and each flows into different oceans.
Old Akamina Road (non-motorized access only) is the primary access for hikers or cyclists into AK park. The road begins from the paved Cameron Lake Road in Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. It climbs 130 m (450 ft.) in 1.2 km and crosses the BC/Alberta border over the low Akamina Pass, 1800 m (5,900 ft.). The road was first built in the 1920s along Akamina and Kishinena creeks and connects with the BC Flathead River valley.
The Akamina Ridge hike is the nicest ridge walk I know of. The ridge is wide and expansive and alpine plants cover its rocky terrain. The ridge drops off on the northern side, plunging in a cliff into three lakes: Wall and Forum lakes in BC and Cameron Lake in Alberta.
Camping in Akamina-Kishinena Park
Camping in the park is limited to one site, at Akamina Pass near the ranger station. It is 1.5 km to 2 km from the trailhead on Cameron Lake Road. Staying at the campsite shortens the hike to Akamina Ridge. The tent sites, outhouse and food slings are all beside Akamina Road, a busy cyclist and hiker route. BC Parks charges a fee per person per night. The campsite is not scenic, nor is it secure from thieves who may pass by. We have had things stolen. The campsite is in a dark forest of spindly ingrown pine. The water supply is questionable, and I advise filtering all your drinking water. Mosquitoes like the spot, too.
Ecosystems and mountain ridges
The three large parks of Waterton, Glacier and AK collectively not only protect the forest, rock and ice, but their combined scale ensures security of the largest self-sustaining population of grizzly bears on the continent.
The mountain ridges of AK contain some of the oldest exposed rocks in the Rockies. Estimates show these rocks are 1.3 billion years old. Colourful rocks of amber, purple and red are on the Akamina Ridge and the shores of Forum and Wall lakes. The rocks at Forum are reputed to be the oldest.
Waterton Lakes and Glacier national parks were previously united as the world’s first International Peace Park in 1932. The United Nations recognized the partnership of the parks in 1976 as a biosphere reserve. Then UNESCO furthered the area’s reputation in 1995 when it declared the Waterton–Glacier International Peace Park a World Heritage Site. BC granted park status to AK in 1995 (after years of negotiations), thus completing the region’s protected status.