Distance: 16.8 km
Elevation Gain: 670 meters
Time Required: 4 - 6 hours
Location: Waterton Lakes
Crypt Lake is a popular full day hike from Waterton Lakes, and rumoured to be one of the best hikes in Canada. You have to take a boat across Waterton Lake to the trailhead which runs very close to the Canada and US border. The hike takes you through an epic valley filled with wildflower meadows and waterfalls, to a rock ledge, and up to a stunning crater lake at the top. It is a very diverse hike, but definitely challenging so come prepared.
Head to the Waterton Marina and purchase a return boat ticket. The boat ride is quick, and only takes about 10 minutes to cross the lake to the Crypt Landing Dock. The trail begins with a series of switchbacks through lush forest before reaching Burndt Rock Falls (5.6km).
From here the trail becomes much more exposed, as you climb up more switchbacks and can view another waterfall in the distance. The trail curves around a becomes a rock ledge. Eventually the trail ends and you need to climb an 8 foot metal ladder into a rock tunnel. Climb through and then carefully edge along the narrow ledge while holding the safety cable. It sounds scarier than it is, but you do have to watch your footing and be careful.
Once on solid ground again, its only a little ways further to reach Crypt Lake. The cold, clear lake is in a nice pocket of forest, so find a shady spot along the shore to relax and have lunch. If time permits, you can do a quick loop around the lake but watch your time, as you don’t want to risk missing the return boat! On the way back down, you can also plan to stop at Hell Roaring Falls if you have time. Its a much better place to stop on the return than the way up.
Head down the same way you came up, and then wait for the boat at the bottom. An exhausting but incredible day! Celebrate that you made it with a cold drink in Waterton. Happy hiking!
For boat information: