Crypt Lake is a 10.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Waterton, Alberta, Canada that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and trail running and is best used from April until October.
Start from Waterton Township on the northwest end of Upper Waterton Lake and find the boat launch at the marina for the Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company. Tickets for the Crypt Lake Shuttle Ferry are $20 for adults and $10 for children (as of 2012). Ferries leave at 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. daily. On the ride to Crypt Landing on the east side of the lake, enjoy fantastic views south toward the United States, and north toward the historic Prince of Whales Hotel situated on a bluff above the lake. There is no drinking water on the boat or along the trail, so pack everything you need before you start. Ferries return to Waterton Township at 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
I rated this a 5 because of its diversity. The hike starts with a 15 min boat ride to trail head. Grizzly bears, steep cliffs with inches of foot room, cables to hang onto, a 10 foot ladder leading to 50 foot narrow tunnel. A big plus is the small group of people on the trail due to limited seating on the boat.
So much fun! Lots of elevation and the ridge/tunnel/chained ridge spot are scary and fun! A must do for sure. The ferry needed to get there is TOO expensive. They know it's the only way so they gouge big time. 25 bucks for a 5 minute boat ride
This is my ultimate favorite trail I've ever experienced. We had absolutely great weather and we will be doing this hike many times again during our life. 5 star trail!
Nice hike, not too hard. Beautiful lake at the top and some nice waterfalls along the way.
This is a beautiful trail with lots of great views, multiple waterfalls, a beautiful lake at the end to sit and have lunch (lots of places to sit), and some fun obstacles (a narrow and short tunnel, a narrow climb with a cable to hang onto, etc). Definitely worth the cost of the boat ride.
This was the most unique hike I have been on so far! The views from the top are insane! I would do this hike again for sure!
Beautiful hike with amazing wild flowers. Moderate but fairly long and steep at times. Great experience with the boat ride to the trail head.A++
Difficult but well worth the effort. Catch the ferry over to the trailhead in the morning. Begin your hike through the forest and berry bushes up a steady incline. Many waterfalls to stop and view along the way. If a steep incline isn't your thing hit up Hells Roaring Falls (short side trip) on the way down - still a steep incline but at least you are going down. I'm a little afraid of heights and I found the cable part of this hike pushed me to my limit. After climbing the ladder and crawling through the cave (so much fun!) you literally walk along a skinny ledge holding onto a cable. On the way back when some people were still climbing up, this was extremely stressful for me. I would recommend not heading down from Crypt Lake until 1:30pm as that was about the time we stopped seeing people hiking up. We walked around the lake at the top (worth the additional effort) and it was my favourite part. Make sure to bring lots of water (we brought just over 2 litres per person and if it had been warmer we would've needed more) and sweaters and a rain jacket. You are in the mountains and weather changes suddenly and frequently. We were in shorts and tank tops, then sweaters and jackets and then we kept switching as the weather changed. All in all a fabulous hike but not for those afraid of heights!
I've done a lot of hiking, and this is my favorite trail, hands down. The views are heartbreakingly beautiful - mountain valleys, cliffs, waterfalls, and the final quiet solitude of Crypt lake itself. I hiked in early July, and the upper part of the trail was under feet of snow despite a temperature over 70.
Whoever marked this trail as "moderate" is crazy. You hike uphill with lots of switchbacks for over 5 miles to arrive at Crypt Lake, and just before the lake you traverse a narrow ledge, a short metal ladder, a cave passage, and an exhilarating (but terrifying) scramble/hike up rocks with a cable to help you and a gut-clenching drop off feet away.
This hike is worth every bit of its difficulty. This should be on your bucket list!
This trail was rated this hike as one of the World's 20 Most Thrilling Trails in 2014 by National Geographic. After doing this hike, I agree with NG. The trail is 11 miles round trip with a 2,200 feet net elevation gain (if you factor in the downhill parts of the hike going up, the cumulative elevation gain is closer to 2,700 feet). The detour to Hell roaring falls adds to the distance and elevation gain. Once you reach the lake, if you want to walk around the lake, that will also add to the distance.
The hike starts with a 15 minute boat ride across Upper Waterton Lake to the trailhead at Crypt Landing. Make sure you check the boat return schedule. Usually you will have a maximum of 7 hours between the boat drop off and pickup. Make sure you return in time or you will be left out in the wild for the night (or a 20+ mile trek back to Waterton township).
The trail passes close to 3 spectacular waterfalls: Twin Falls (3.5 km), Burnt Rock Falls (5.6 km) and Crypt Falls (8 km). A sort detour gets you close to an additional falls - Hell Roaring Falls (1 km). The highlight of the hike was the steel ladder, 60 foot tunnel through the mountain, and 100-200 feet maneuver around a cliff (with cables).
Some key waypoints along the trail:
4200 ft 0 mi Trailhead - Crypt Landing
4840 ft 1.2 mi views of upper Waterton Lake
5000 ft 1.6 mi HRFT rejoins
5200 ft 3.3 mi first views of burnt rock falls
6320 ft 4.8 mi Crypt Lake Campground
6327 ft 5.08 mi Tunnel, and the cables
6380 ft 5.50 mi Crypt Lake