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Vimy Peak
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
June 20, 2015

Distance: 26.2 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1364 m

In 1917, during WWI, Canadians took Vimy Ridge in France from the Germans. That same year, in honour of that battle, Goat Mountain, which sits at the entrance of Waterton National Park, was renamed Vimy Peak. 98 years after the Battle of Vimy, Sonny and I were able to “take” Vimy Peak without bloodshed.

It wasn't much of a battle. Routefinding is limited to seeking the trailhead and the Vimy Peak junction, both of which are signed. Although two good legs will get you to the junction, two good wheels will get you there quicker: Sonny and I cycled the nearly 7 km stretch, a ride interrupted only to cross Sofa Creek. The trail, however, is not for casual city cyclists, being sometimes rough, deep and bushy, and always narrow, always demanding attention.

After reaching the junction, we stashed our bikes in the bushes and started up a trail lined with trees and thick vegetation. We passed a couple of glades, pleasant viewpoints, before the tree canopy shut out views for the next hour or so. After crossing above a small waterfall, the trees relaxed their grip on the scenery, and we caught glimpses of Vimy's summit above the treetops. Eventually the trees fell away so only ground and rocks lay between us and the summit. We plodded up the trail to a summit ridge studded with blocky rocks.

A windbreak took the place of a summit cairn, a testament to the high winds that can occur in Waterton Park. But we were met with calm air and stayed for an hour on top, taking photos of peaks and watching four unruly ground squirrels scamper around us. And we signed the new summit register. There was a single entry for last year, October 19, and five this year beginning just five days ago. Afterwards, it was time to head back.

We hiked back down the trail to the junction and jumped on our bikes. At the creek crossing, four “plant watchers,” as they called themselves, caught up to us. There were looking for rare plants, and the area offered an opportunity to see them. (Trilliums, for example, can be found here and nowhere else in Alberta.) They add plant sightings to their list much like Sonny and I add successful summits to ours. After spending several interesting minutes talking to them, Sonny and I hopped back on our bikes.

When we rode down the trail earlier that day, Sonny and I, not used to riding single track with packs on, struggled to stick to the tight trail. But on the return leg, we had found “the zone.” Sonny set a furious pace and we sped all the way back to the car. It was an exhilarating finish after an exceptional hike up Vimy Peak.

KML and GPX Tracks
Sonny's Trip Report

Vimy Peak appears above Wishbone trailhead

The trail winds through meadows

And through trees

Crossing Sofa Creek

More meadows after the creek

Among the many wildflowers along the trail, the western wood lily drew our attention the most

Sonny looks for a place to stash his bike at the junction
(mouse over to read the sign)

Lush vegetation crowded the path

The trail climbs left of the Lion's Head, the outcrop on the left

From this angle, Lion's Head sort of resembles its namesake

The trail crosses above a small waterfall

Sonny easily crosses the stream

I couldn't resist drinking the cold, clear water from this brook. It was refreshing!

Lingering snow covered the trail in places

The trail swings right and heads toward the summit

The trail runs all the way to the top

Sofa Mountain extends behind us

The trail runs around to the back before climbing to the summit

Sonny walks along the summit ridge

On the summit of Vimy Peak

Sonny holds up the summit register

Looking north. Below and right is Nugara's ascent gully.

Sonny walked down for a closer look at Waterton Lakes

The pointed peak in the foreground is Mount Galwey

Golden-mantled ground squirrels were drawn to the salt from sweat on
Sonny's poles and pack (mouse over for a close-up of a squirrel)

A squirrel looks for a handout

Looking SE along Vimy Ridge to Arras Peak, the highest point on Vimy Ridge

Crypt Lake (mouse over for a close-up)

Heading down from the summit, Sonny crosses a snow patch covering the trail

Crossing Sofa Creek again

Sonny chats with the "plant watchers"

82 H/4 Waterton Lakes

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