The Great Divide Trail

The Rocky Mountains are home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, one of which is the epic Great Divide Trail. Beginning in Waterton Lakes National Park, the trail ends near Kakwa Provincial Park.

The trail follows the crest of the Rocky Mountains which separates Alberta and British Columbia. It is a whopping 1100km walk! The route is not well marked, leaving you to explore the trail as you wish through the vast wilderness and incredible sceneries.

Hiker standing on a ridge from The Great Divide Trail viewing the Rocky Mountain peaks.

Hiking the Great Divide Trail is not for the faint of heart and can be a challenge for even the most experienced hikers. Walking long distances in the wilderness can take a toll and you’ll be wise to remember that many wild and dangerous animals call this their home.

You’ll be passing through five National Parks and eight Provincial Parks, as well as wilderness areas, so you’ll need to be alert for signs of black bears, bobcats, and wolves as well as other dangerous wildlife like Elk and Moose. If you get into trouble along the trail, help is not always close by and you’ll most likely be hiking in complete solitude so keep this in mind when preparing for the hike.

A bull elk sitting in the Canadian Rockies sporting a massive set of antlers.

For the most experienced hikers, these dangers only escalate the experience of walking this trail. So if you’re looking for a truly immersive hiking experience then this is the trail you’re looking for, and it’s one that is on so many hiking enthusiasts bucket lists.

A view of Rocky Mountain Scenery from The Great Divide Trail.

If you’re planning a thru-hike, then give yourself around two months to complete the full route. There are only a few towns along the way so be sure to prepare in advance for food supplies and gear. Remember those black bears when planning your food supplies and when preparing food on the trail. The smell of cooking food can definitely attract unwanted visitors to your campsite. Bringing along some bear spray is highly recommended! 

Navigations skills are key, and having experience hiking long distances through rough terrain will do well to prepare you for the Great Divide Trail. A helpful tool to find your way is The Great Divide Trail App by Atlas Guides. You will also need to book your camping spots or town stays ahead of time.

For some of the best resources on the trail, check out The Great Divide Trail Association’s site. They are dedicated to the protection and maintenance of the trail. They have some key tips from hikers who have completed the trail as well as the best information on planning your trip.  

Classified as one of the most spectacular and challenging hikes in the world, completing the Great Divide Trail is a true accomplishment for avid hikers! Few trails in the world offer this kind of remote hiking experience and this trail will leave you breathless as you discover jaw-dropping sceneries and incredible wildlife along the way. Many hikers have described the journey as ‘life-changing’ and ‘more than you can imagine’. It’s everything you want in a hiking experience and more. 

So, when are you going to take on the challenge?