Hiking to Crypt Lake – Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Hiking to Crypt Lake – Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
The hike that has it ALL!

Hiking to crypt lake - waterton lakes national park, alberta

Back in 2014, Crypt Lake Hike was named one of the “World’s 20 Most Thrilling Trails” by National Geographic, so I knew this hike would be a very fun one! I have hiked in various climates and terrains, but I have never experienced a hike with so many different variables and components. Although this hike is quite popular, the difficulty mixed with its remoteness keeps the crowds at bay.


The trailhead begins across the lake, so you must purchase boat tickets at the Waterton Marina. Shuttles to the Crypt Lake trailhead are run by the Shoreline Cruise Co and depart at 8:30am and 9am for the summer season with tickets costing $32 per person round trip.


After a quick boat ride across the lake, you’re at the trailhead. Unfortunately, this means you start the hike at the same time as everyone else on your boat, so hike quickly if you want to get ahead of the masses. I would say this hike does not have as good of views as some of the others I have done in the Canadian Rockies, but the terrain itself was interesting and diverse.


Many sections of the trail were fully exposed to the elements with no shade, so make sure you wear sunscreen! I had been looking forward to the tunnel portion of the hike, so I was very excited when we could see the ladder leading to the natural tunnel! 


The tunnel was much longer than I expected (about 65 feet long), which added to the thrill of the experience.

The climb down after crossing through the tunnel was probably the most challenging part of the hike. There were no holds, so you have to scramble down the rock, which is a little unsettling since it's a steep drop-off if you slip.


The section after the natural tunnel had chains to hold, but it wasn't too frightening. It seemed like a section where you could get by without the chains if hikers aren't moving in both directions, but we aren't ones to take too many risks. My general rule is: if I have a photograph from a certain moment, then I felt completely safe to be taking pictures and not using one of my hands to secure myself. 


There is a serene peace being somewhere so beautiful that you worked so hard to get to and feeling like there are hardly any other people there. We took some pictures, ate lunch, and walked around the perimeter of the lake, but we hardly crossed paths with anyone! The vibrant colors of the rocks and the water made the scenery feel artificial! The water looked like glass it was so still ind clear. Some hikers were brave and took a dip in the glacial lake. We packed our bathing suits but weren’t brave enough to jump into the icy water.

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We descended the mountain fairly quickly to ensure we would get a spot on the first boat back (there are return boats at 3:30 and 5:30). The boat can hold a decent number of people, so if we did this hike again, I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to return to the trailhead next time.

  • Distance: 11.7 miles
  • Elevation: 2,900 feet

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