Crypt Lake was listed as one of the "World's 20 Most Thrilling Trails" by National Geographic, 2014 and was rated Canada's best hike in 1981. Along the hike, enjoy stunning scenery along the way, pass by 4 spectacular waterfalls, climb through a 60 ft-long natural tunnel, and take a dip in the glacier waters of Crypt Lake.

The hike begins with a gradual climb through shaded forest, which thins as you progress into the hanging valley. Along the way, you will pass by three amazing waterfalls: Twin Falls at 3.5km (2 mi), Burnt Rock Falls at 5.6km (3.5 mi) and the 600ft Crypt Falls at 8km (5 mi). There is also a 1km (0.6 mi) side hike for Hell Roaring Falls. It is recommended to take this path on the way back to ensure you have enough time to catch the ferry (details below).

The trail then becomes an open walk through a valley, crossing small mountain streams and leading up to spectacular views of Crypt Falls. Keep a lookout for bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and many different rodents scurrying around the rocks.

Reaching Crypt Lake headwall is one of the most thrilling parts of the hike. You will climb a bolted 8 rung steel ladder into a 60m (200 ft) natural tunnel, which will require you to crouch and crawl your way through. You then traverse 60m along an exposed narrow cliff ledge, which has a steel cable for extra stability.

It is then about 5 minutes through a small forest until you reach the crystal clear Crypt Lake. If you take a stroll around to the other side of the lake, you will cross the border into the United States.

Allow yourself about 30 minutes less for the hike back to Crypt Landing to catch the ferry.

Getting there: To reach this trailhead, you will have to take a passenger ferry across Upper Waterton Lake, from the Waterton Park Townsite to Crypt Landing. Tickets for the return ride are $22CAD for adults and are available through Waterton Inter-Nation Shoreline Cruise Co.. During peak season, the ferry departs twice in the morning at 9 & 10am, and returns for you at 4 & 5:30pm. Off season times are 10am & 5:30pm only.

Pack List

  • Waterproof hiking shoes
  • Raincoat
  • Water
  • Energy snacks
  • Bear spray
  • Toilet paper
Show More
RT Distance 10.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 2296.6 Feet
Activities Chillin, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Beautiful But Busy

Very gorgeous, a must see but don't do it if you want to get away from people for the day. Super busy!!

Appetizer

This hike is a delight. Entirely spectacular and a great introduction to all that Waterton offers. It isn't that difficult, can be done in a day, and gives you immense payoff. The only reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is that it can feel very "touristy". On a busy day the ferry is full and you'll find the tunnel at the top a busy intersection. The peace and isolation isn't quite what you would hope for.

almost 2 years ago

Amazing Trail

Loved the views at the top. The rough terrain is worth it! Very rewarding when the hike is completed! Bring bear spray.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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