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A stone archway stands amid the ruins of Waterton Lakes National Park's visitor center, which burned on Sept. 11 during the Kenow fire's assault on Waterton Village. The Prince of Wales Hotel on the hill just across the road survived unscathed.

ROB CHANEY rchaney@missoulian.com

A few of Waterton Lakes National Park’s trails have reopened to winter use after crews completed repair work in the wake of last summer’s Kenow fire.

The Kenow fire burned 19,300 hectares (47,700 acres) of the park’s western side, mostly in one four-hour run on Sept. 11. Damage from fallen trees, destroyed guardrails, mudslides and lost facilities blocked access to virtually everything west of Waterton Townsite.

On Monday, park officials announced some amenities have been restored to public use. Waterton Townsite itself was undamaged, and has some year-round businesses open to greet winter visitors.

Winter travelers can follow the Chief Mountain Highway out to the Sofa Mountain pullout along the park’s eastern border. The Wishbone and Vimy Ridge trails were unaffected by the fire and are open for travel, as is the Crypt Lake trail. Maskinonge day-use area has also reopened near the park entrance.

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The Red Rock Parkway has opened to nonmotorized use to the Bellevue trailhead, but remains closed beyond that point. Its Crandell Mountain campground likely will stay closed throughout the 2018 season due to fire damage.

The Akamina Parkway remains closed from the townsite on.

Within the townsite, the popular Bear’s Hump overlook trail is closed, as is the hike to Bertha Falls and Bertha Lake. The Waterton Lakeshore trail to the U.S. border also remains closed. Open routes include the Linnett Lake Loop, Prince of Wales hill and the Townsite Loop along the lakeshore only.


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