Crypt Lake Trail Loop

MODERATE 148 reviews

Crypt Lake Trail Loop is a 20.6 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near Waterton Park, Alberta, Canada that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
20.6 km
ELEVATION GAIN
914 m
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

cave

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

This hike is a great opportunity to get a good workout and see some beautiful and diverse nature. The first part of the hike goes through a forest and is shaded. The first set of climbs are easy and then the trail levels out. Somewhere around the second waterfall, the hike starts climbing and it is completely exposed, be sure to have water, sunscreen, a hat etc for this part of the hike. Then comes the ledge, the tunnel and the chains. The ledge has enough space to walk comfortably on both sides. Unless you are very terrified of heights you will likely not find this part of the hike too scary! The tunnel is of course fun, and the lake is just a small walk away after this. The route on this map sends you back via the Hell Roaring Falls Trail. This trail can be overgrown and is much less travelled. If you want to get away from the crowds it is a great option, but you can also do the hike as an out and back.

2 days ago

Don’t get me wrong, this is a gorgeous hike and should be done by anyone coming to this area. I give it 3/5 rating because I felt it was falsely rated in difficulty. It is said this is supposed to be a thrill seekers delight, but I found this untrue. It was a relatively easy hike, with little to no worry for any issues along the way. I was expecting a more challenging hike with difficult traversing and a few holy s**t moments but I was left disappointed.

8 days ago

Great trail with amazing views. I highly recommend bringing 3L of water per person AND a filter of some source for stream water. We ran out but were lucky a friend had a filter. The forest hike is lovely with dense foliage. The switchbacks are when I felt the trail began to get truly tough, but keep going and it will be worth it. The tunnel is on a left slant and you will have to duck as it is short, so be aware of that if you are unable to squat down to walk awkwardly. The cable walk is not terrible but be sure footed. I strongly advise to wear ankle supporting boots as the shale on the switchbacks down can be hard on the body.

hiking
8 days ago

boat rides, lush forests, water falls, cliffs, tunnels, lakes! This hike has everything you could ever ask for. It is a challenging hike but well worth it! The cliff sections were not as scary as I originally thought they would be but I would not recommend this hike for small kids or dogs. The tunnel is alot more narrow than I imagined and would not recommend for people over 300 pounds or if you have trouble bending your knees. Bring bear spray as there have been recent sitings and we saw fresh bear scat. We usually bring about 2 litres of water on day hikes but this hike required much more due to the intensity and how hot it was that day. i would recommend 4 litres (minimum 3) and or bring a water filter/purification system there are many streams along the way to fill up. DO NOT drink the water from the lake unless you have a purification system. Drinking still water is never a good idea without a filtration system. We saw a guy drink right from the lake and when we scooped up a bottle full there were worms in the water. HIKE SMART!

hiking
10 days ago

This a MUST DO for any hiking fan! The views are incredible and just enough of a challenge to get in a good workout. A beautiful forest at the start to a canyon, mountain tunnel, waterfalls and a gorgeous lake at the top. Not only is the hike itself amazing but the ferry ride and tour of Waterton is equally rewarding. If you’re considering this hike DO IT!

hiking
11 days ago

Great bucket list hike. Not for the faint hearted nor people scared of heights. You access the hike via a paid boat shuttle service that departs from the Waterton Lakes Marina and takes you to the Crypt Trail landing. From there you gain 725m t in elevation to Crypt lake in 8km or so and the last 2km of it are very steep and include a ladder climb, a 20m crawl through a natural narrow tunnel, and a climb on narrow ledges with steel cables to ease the ascent and for safety. The trail is quite busy and we had the misfortune to do it on a wet and cold day. Still a great hike, but be aware that you are time limited and this can become an issue if you are late on your way back as the boat won't wait for you. A word of caution, if you have bad knees (as I do), the descent and uneven parts of this hike was definitely not pleasant from a pain point of view. We had a friendly encounter with what i would call the friendly resident marmot on the trail too (both ways at the same spot)

13 days ago

I had to give this trail only 3 stars (it in itself is worth 5) because it is so heavily trafficked that it’s hard to feel like you are out in nature when there are approx. 150 people on the trail with you.
Otherwise a beautiful hike with stunning views!!!

hiking
13 days ago

A ton of variety on this trail. A lot of rock faces and scrambling, some dense forest, a few waterfalls and creeks, a tunnel, cliff traverse, and of course Crypt Lake itself. It's pretty long if you do the add-ons (loop around the lake and the Hell's Roaring loop), around 21km. If you just do the out and back, I think its closer to 18km. Not incredibly difficult if you're in good shape, but you may want to catch the early ferry in and the late one out if you're concerned about time. The ferry company must make a killing just offering the shuttle service, it's a little under $30 for the trip there and back. There were people of all ages on the trail so it's definitely doable for most. A few words of advice:
-Bring bear spray. The people a few minutes ahead of us encountered a grizzly and had to use a bear banger to scare it off. They almost had to spray it as well. Don't let this discourage you from doing the trail though, there's tons of people on this trail daily so the bears usually don't cause any trouble.
-Do the Hell's Roaring loop on the way back, if you decide to do it. It's very steep to do it on the way up. To be honest it wasn't overly phenomenal, but a nice change from the out and back trail. It is definitely less traveled and the trail is a little overgrown in some spots.
-There's a den right beside the approach to the lake. Not sure if it's a bear's den (or if it's even occupied), but something to watch out for.
-Bring layers/rain gear. The temperatures and weather can fluctuate quite wildly. There's still a bit of snow up at the lake, but I did fine getting through with hiking shoes. Be careful walking on the snow close to the shoreline.
-There's an outhouse near the top, but as always it's a good idea to pack in some toilet paper of your own.
-Keep an eye on the time! The ferry will leave without you if you're not back to the dock in time. They do keep track of everyone who goes in and out, so they will send someone back later to get you, but I imagine there will probably be a fee.

Overall the best

16 days ago

Great hike with a long tunnel, narrow cliff walks, waterfalls, and plenty of switchbacks. Crypt lake had a couple of snow patches still. We encountered a black bear with two cubs along the trail.

16 days ago

Great hike that offers everything: tunnels, stunning views, waterfalls, a cliff traverse, wildlife and a ton of greenery. We saw a blonde black bear and her two clubs on the way down. This hike was heavily trafficked and there were lots of traffic jams at the tunnel and the cable assisted cliff side. One of the best moderate hikes that gives you so much.

17 days ago

This is definitely not a good hike for people that have any fear of heights or drop-offs.

21 days ago

This is an awesome hike. What an adventure!! A must do

hiking
23 days ago

Spectacular hike with epic views. Must be in relatively good shape and not afraid of heights to completely enjoy but not necessary. Overall tremendous hike!

hiking
25 days ago

I did this hike on June 2018. My husband and I loved it. Had some difficulty, some thrill, and beautiful scenery the whole way. I do highly recommend you pack a couple beers with you. It would have been really nice to crack a couple at the lake as a few others did. I do believe that people should take this hike seriously as it’s not necessarily super difficult for folks that hike, but the ferry that takes you across ended up leaving a couple ladies that were way behind. I believe it went back later to pick them up for a cost. If you do this hike in June there are lots of mosquitoes since the snow is melting and there is standing water.

hiking
1 month ago

It’s an enjoyable hike and worth the effort and time, but also a little over-rated. It’s scenic and the hike through the tunnel is an experience.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Absolutely amazing!

hiking
4 months ago

An absolutely amazing hike. Did this back in July. It requires a ferry ride to get to the trailhead so make sure to stop by and grab a ticket beforehand.

The trail itself winds through the mountain forests before breaking through the tree line. There are a couple very cool waterfalls on the way up, and the last part of the hike is amazing and intense, with a ladder up to a cave and then some cliff side scrambling (with a cable for safety) to get to the valley where the trail’s namesake is located.

Leaving the trail also requires a ferry back. Don’t miss the last one or they’ll leave you and send the park rangers to pick you up later. When we hiked there were two women who got left behind. Know your limits and watch the clock so that this doesn’t happen to you.

5 months ago

Awesome

hiking
8 months ago

Long and tough, but very worth it!!

8 months ago

Great hike! Take a small fishing pole with a spinner for some cutthroats in Crypt!

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike, with spectacular views, took the Hell Roaring Falls trail on the way up, separated us from the boat load of people going up, and able to do this part of the trail while still full of energy.

hiking
9 months ago

Super awesome! Great for beginners that have the cardio for 17 km. Get to the lake first and you will feelthe silence.

hiking
10 months ago

Enjoyed hiking it with friends. The best part is the tunnel and the crystal clear lake. It took us 7hours to complete the loop.

hiking
10 months ago

We did this on long weekend. Started at 830 am from waterton lake and reached crypt lake hike landing by 845 am. Boat ride was good and guide shared some good information about the hike. We were able to reach crypt lake in 2 hr 40 min though we spend some time in taking pictures all the way. Falls were not impressive as we expected. I personally believe the Tunnel and lake are the main focus of this hike. While coming back we went to Hell roar fall but the trail from there to come down is not well maintained and you will see thick foliage. I would prefer to pass this passage with few guys and not alone. Overall it was 20 plus km and decent elevation.

hiking
10 months ago

Nearly all the hikes in Waterton were closed except this, Bertha Lake and Bears Hump. Well, we were relieved this one remained open. So much variety on the hike - and some stunning views. The cave and cable were both frightening yet exhilarating. We had an excellent day. The loop detour near the end was a little lack-lustre but we can say we did it.

10 months ago

My favorite Waterton Hike. I'm scared of heights and I was a bit nervous coming out of the cave and climbing up the side but the cable is very secure and if you don't look down you'll be just fine!! So fun and so worth it.

hiking
10 months ago

Did the hike in late August.

The hike by itself is a decent workout . The first part of the hike goes thru a forest and is shaded. The first set of climb is easy and then it levels out. Some where around the second waterfall, the hike starts climbing and it is completely exposed . Then comes, the ledge , the tunnel and the chains. Truth be told, reading the reviews, I was extremely scared, but once I got to the ledge I realised there was enough space to walk comfortably on both sides! The tunnel is of course fun! The lake is just a small walk away after this .

The lake is a very very pretty lake and it is easy to loose track of time while at the lake. So it is very important to time yourself at the lake.

We saw three bears during the hike - two near the tunnel and far away and one on the trail. While they didn't trouble us, it is always good and recommended to carry bear spray if the need be. We rented ours from Pats - Unless opened can be returned and deposit of 15$ is returned back .

We also took the Hell Roaring Canyon on the way back - will not really recommend. The trail is steeper in sections and the very very hot day did not make it easier.

hiking
11 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

First time doing a hike for me and I loved it. Second set of switchbacks were rough, but Crypt Lake was worth it. Definitely a mental challenge as the physical part wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Saw a few families with kids under 12 and older people as well. Most fun parts were the tunnel and the cable walk. Most difficult part was the rocky switchbacks. It was hot and I brought 2 litres of water and ran out on the way back, so bring lots of water, a hat, and sunscreen. I also brought Tylenol and a knee brace and it helped quite a bit for the way down. I recommend 100%. We had lots of time with the 8:30 drop off and 5:30 pick up. You can buy your tickets the day before.

11 months ago

Easy to see what makes it one of the top hikes in Canada, take time for a swim.

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