Sofa Mountain

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Alberta, Canada, North America
Hiking, Mountaineering
Summer, Fall
8252 ft / 2515 m
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Sofa Mountain
Created On: Apr 4, 2009
Last Edited On: Apr 11, 2009


Sullivan Falls from Sofa s summit ridge (looking west)Sullivan Falls from Sofa's summit ridge (looking west)
Sofa s Broad Summit RidgeSofa's broad summit ridge, looking southwest towards the Glacier peaks (with a hazy Cleveland in the rear center)

Sofa’s unassuming name belies the spectacular outlook from its summit. Situated near Waterton’s eastern boundary where the mountains yield abruptly to the plains, it provides a clear line of sight as far west as Long Knife Peak in Glacier’s North Fork-area, while Cleveland looms massively in the foreground. Perhaps most rewarding is the unusual southward perspective on Chief, situated just to the far side of the conspicuous border-cut. Many of the Waterton peaks will be visible, perhaps most strikingly horseshoe-shaped Crandell edging on the (out-of-sight) townsite. Sullivan Falls pours from a hanging valley in view from Sofa’s summit ridge.

Getting There

The route up Sofa is accessible from an unpaved turnout on Waterton’s Highway 6 located outside the entrance gate but within the offical boundary of the park. If you are driving towards the Chief Mountain port of entry from the townsite, the turnout will be on your right side less than a mile after a paved scenic turnout where the road bends sharply to the east.
South of the Border: Chief MtnSouth of the Border: from Sofa's summit, a splendid view of Chief Mountain. Cutting diagonally across the picture, the US-Canadian border-cut.

The Route

Alan Kane’s excellent Scrambles in the Rocky Mountains contains the most complete available route information. From the turnout, look for a well-trodden climber’s trail leading through the meadows and forest areas; from the base of the mountain, cross the stream (climber’s right) to ascend the steep, grassy slope up to the ridge. Scramble over unexpectedly solid talus, winding your way south along the broad, final ridge to the summit.

It is possible to descend Sofa more immediately from the summit rather than returning via the ridge, but the cliffs below (invisible from the summit) present far more challenging and exposed terrain that may be quite slippery in the early season or under wet conditions.

Ascending SofaAscending Sofa. In the valley below is the stream you will cross where the faint trail ends.
From the Base of SofaWhere the game-trail ends: at the base of the ascent (up the meadows to the right)

Cliffs on Sofa s (alternate) RouteThe more direct, less scrambler-friendly cliffs directly below the summit
A Cliffy Descent off SofaA steeper alternative to the south of the recommended route

Red Tape

Waterton Lakes National Park charges a use fee; daily and annual passes are available.

Proof of citizenship is required to cross the US-Canadian border in either direction.


Waterton’s Belly River campground is the nearest place to pitch a tent in the front-country and receives far less human traffic than the Crandell Mountain and Waterton townsite campgrounds, both within the park entrance gate. The Many Glacier campground is the nearest within Glacier National Park, but it fills quickly during high season in July and August.

Views from the Summit and Along the Way

Cleveland (L) and Goat Haunt (R) from SofaCleveland (L) and Goat Haunt (R) Mountains
A Yellow-brushed Ridge on SofaA yellow-streaked ridge off of Sofa's summit

Looking North into Waterton from SofaLooking north into Waterton at Crandell Mountain (beyond that eminently climb-able slab)
Three-Pronged Long Knife Seen to the Far WestThree-pronged Long Knife Peak (in Glacier National Park) hovers in the far west

External Links

Waterton Lakes National Park Homepage

Glacier National Park Homepage
Looking West from SofaThe sea of Glacier peaks: to the far R, sharply-pointed Kinnerly with Kintla to its L