Crypt Lake is Waterton's live wonder in Canadian Rockies

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Written by bike posted on Monday, October 19th, 2009

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Crypt Lake. It has such an evocative name ... and the trail up to it passes such highlights as Hellroaring Falls. But the view at the end makes the journey well worth it!

Crypt Lake. It has such an evocative name ... and the trail up to it passes such highlights as Hellroaring Falls. But the view at the end makes the journey well worth it!

If you vacation at Waterton Lakes National Park, we strongly urge you to take the Trail of the Crypt.

No, it’s not the road to a long-running cable horror show! Actually, the Crypt Lake Trail is one of the premier hiking paths in the Canadian Rockies. The trail is popular enough to warrant a dedicated ferry service from the Waterton Park townsite.

You begin with a choice, as two alternate routes can be taken for ascent and return. The more arduous of the two takes longer, but the reward for your effort is a pass by the very impressive Hellroaring Falls.

After this beginning in forest, you’ll enter an open walk that traverses a valley. The trail crosses a number of small mountain streams. It’s a breezy, easy walk with a spectacular destination: several beautiful views of the 150-meter high Crypt Falls.

The falls are fed by Crypt Lake, located in the hanging valley above you, and the viewpoints mark the beginning of the last part of the trail, and by far the most challenging. There are areas where the walk runs next to steep drops and is secured by cable. There’s also a stretch where you’ll have to crawl through a narrow, albeit short, tunnel.

The trail eventually ends at the shore of Crypt Lake, an alpine lake so high it usually has ice into August. Most of the area around it is covered by scree or snow. To hike around the lake takes about 45 minutes. Keep an eye on the mountains above; you never know what wildlife you might spot.

The Crypt Lake Trail therefore offers a little bit for everybody. There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. The hike itself ranges from easy to challenging. You’ll pass through forests and open terrain, and if you choose to take the longer route you’ll be treated to not just one but two towering waterfalls. It’s no surprise the trail is so popular.

The ferry service from Waterton brings hikers to the trail head twice in the morning, returning for them twice in the late afternoon. (In the off-peak season, the service only runs once per day.) It’s a reasonable amount of time to hike the whole trail, but just to be on the safe side, keep an eye on the time. Also, there is no potable drinking water provided at the trail head or anywhere along the hike, so bring your own. And while there are a couple of outhouses, hikers are also advised to bring their own toilet paper.

So if you’re interested in a day’s adventure that includes a little bit of everything, this is probably right up your alley. After you’ve come back, we’re sure you’ll agree: the Trail of the Crypt is a keeper.

For more about adventures in Banff National Park, click here!

For more about adventures in Jasper National Park, click here!

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