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Crypt Lake Trail

Difficult
 5.0 (4)

This trail requires a ferry to the trailhead, features stunning views of a lake, and involves crawling through a tunnel.


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Map Key

6.4

Miles

10.3

KM

Point to Point

6,474' 1,973 m

High

4,249' 1,295 m

Low

2,342' 714 m

Up

204' 62 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

22%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Cave · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Need to Know

Best used April until September.

Pack your own water, sunscreen/hat, and good hiking boots recommended. Check the ferry times/rates in order to prepare for this trek. There is a portion that offers hikers the option of holding onto chains while hiking along a ledge. Those with fear of heights should be aware of this portion of the trail.

Description

Crypt Lake Trail is consistently ranked as one of the top trails in the Canada Rockies. To reach the trailhead, you must first take a 15-minute ferry across Upper Waterton Lake. From there it is a 10.8-mile round trip hike to a sparkling turquoise lake cradled by horseshoe-shaped cliffs. You'll gain 2,300 feet along the way, passing waterfalls, crawling through a tunnel, and clinging to chains bolted along a narrow ledge. Crypt Lake Trail is an exciting hike to a stunning location.

Start from the boat launch at the marina for the Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company. There is no drinking water on the boat or along the trail, so pack everything you need before you start. If you are an agile hiker and would like a bit more solitude along the trail, try to get to the front of the pack leaving the ferry. Otherwise, you'll find yourself trapped by slower hikers moving up a singletrack trail that rarely offers a passing lane.There are just two noteworthy junctions along the trail, both with Hell-Roaring Falls Trail.

This trail can be used to add a small loop to the start of the hike. The side trail provides glimpses into a canyon carved by a cascading creek, while offering excellent views over Upper Waterton Lake. The first junction with Hell-Roaring Falls Trail comes a quarter mile from the start, breaking off to the right. The second comes at 1.85 miles from Crypt Landing when the trails reunite. Hell-Roaring Falls Trail is steeper than Crypt Lake Trail, so it is preferable to save this route for the descent.

Crypt Lake Trail leaves the landing beneath a lush canopy. As you make your way up switchbacks, the forest thins and the shade disappears. Mount Boswell rises capping off an impressive valley view. Pass Twin Falls just over just over 2 mi from the start and continue to Burnt Rock Falls. The trail becomes a bit more challenging, climbing higher up the side of the valley. you'll be treated to a view of Crypt Falls, a 600-foot streak coursing down a long rock wall. It is a beautiful sight, but on this hike, things only get more amazing the farther you go.

Then comes the ledge, the tunnel and the chains. The ledge has enough space to hike comfortably on both sides.The lake is just a small hike 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 traveled. 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.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers, bears, muskrat, chipmunks

Contacts

Shared By:

Shannon Brunner

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 4 votes

#805

Overall
  5.0 from 4 votes
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Trail Rankings

#2

in Alberta

#805

Overall
11 Views Last Month
159 Since Sep 10, 2019
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Photos

In the tunnel.
Aug 30, 2022 near Cardston, AB
The cable section.
Aug 30, 2022 near Cardston, AB
You gotta make it thru the tunnel for this view. But worth it.
Aug 30, 2022 near Cardston, AB
On the ledge just before the ladder leading to the tunnel.
Aug 30, 2022 near Cardston, AB
And finally…Crypt Lake.
Aug 30, 2022 near Cardston, AB

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Current Trail Conditions

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Aug 16, 2021
Jessica Stewart
11.9mi