Use icons to filter by season

Crypt Lake Trail

Inside the Park
One of the Top 20 most thrilling hiking trails in the world by National Geographic
Show Map
Hide Map

About this Trail

There are hiking trails, and then there are hiking trails – and Crypt Lake Trail definitely falls into the latter category.

This 17.2 km (10.7 mile return) trek is both challenging and rewarding in the way that only truly worthy mountain hiking trials can be.  On Crypt, you’ll both marvel at the scenery and test your mettle.

The adventure begins with a short boat ride from Waterton marina to Crypt Landing, where the trail works its way through a mountain forest before passing an optional detour to Hell Roaring Falls.  The trail gains elevation steadily from there, passing Twin Falls along the way and emptying into a scree field before transforming into switchbacks – some of which are quite physically demanding.  Crypt Trail isn’t easy, but it’s worth every ounce of effort.

You’ll enjoy a great view of Burnt Rock Falls before arriving at the remnants of a long-closed campground. Afterward, the trail makes its way through a boulder-filled landscape leading up to an adrenaline inducing climb up a metal ladder – bolted to the mountain – to the trail’s next level. As if that weren’t enough, hikers next have to traverse a 4-foot wide tunnel carved through the rock.  Once through, Crypt Lake is minutes away.

The reward is worth the effort. Crypt Lake is a high mountain water body that does not disappoint in its beauty or tranquility. Just sit back and enjoy view before turning around and heading back down. Mountain goats can often be seen scrambling along the rocky ledge of the lake, Golden Eagle grace the sky, and the lake is surreal in its perfection.


6 Hours


17.2 km / 10.7 mi.


Day Hike




675 m / 2,214 ft.


The trailhead is located at Crypt Landing, which is accessible by a short boat ride from the Waterton marina.  For hiker shuttle schedules, or to inquire about trail conditions, please contact Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co.



Trail Terrain and Surfaces

Well-maintained hiking trail


Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co.
Box 126
Waterton Park, AB T0K 2M0


  • $$ Moderate Price
  • Challenging
  • Moderate Challenge
  • Nature and Wildlife
  • Pet Friendly

Sign Our Guest Book

Dwayne Schnell 9/12/2015
Grateful for the boat to take us across the windy wavy lake. Great hike! Please share my photos of the trail from Labour Day Monday Sept 7
Lisa Bagby 7/17/2016
Can one camp overnight at Crypt Lake?
Lois Tremblay 5/18/2017
I lived at Crypt Landing Warden cabin for a couple of years in the early '50's...I used to go hiking to the Lake every other day with the Warden, Larry Tremblay (my husband) Once a small bear broke into our Cabin when we were at the lake. He sure made a mess of our food. Crypt Lake was an awesome experience! And it was loaded with beautiful Cutthroat Trout.... We got caught up there once in a Violent thunder and Lightening storm. It got so dark that we didn't want to chance trekking down the mountain side in the dark. We had to stay under a big tree with a tent made of tree branches and a piece of canvas over our heads...The lightening flashing on the Lake half of the night was spectacular! It lit up the whole Lake. The tunnel was a little scary for me as I was sure it was full of spiders. I always let Larry go ahead of me to clear the way. :-) Good Times!!!!!!!!
Dallas David 7/26/2017
I hiked this trail yesterday with my cousin and it was amazing. Starting my an early morning ferry ride to the trail head then the switchbacks through the forest seeing all the wild raspberries was awesome. Then we hit the shale switchbacks in the sun which wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. The highlight was the ledge walk to the ladder that leads to the tunnel then the scaling of the mountain face holding onto the cable wire was so thrilling and exciting. The reward was when you arrive at the lake and all you want to do is jump in for a nice cooling refreshing swim then enjoy your lunch as everyone arrives to the summit. The trip down was just as rewarding you get to go check out the huge water fall as it spills over the mountain (not sure how far but it is really really far down). Then the hike down to hell roaring falls is a must on the way down not the way up just cause of the terrain and the amount of rock you have to climb over. Still a great view that makes you want to have even more time so you can scale the mountain down to one of the many pools you see on this part of the trail to go swim in & wish that there was a smooth enough natural water-slide to the bottom. When your done and waiting for the boat at the trail head and review your many many pictures you've taken that day makes you so proud to have taken the time to trek the beautiful journey both there and back to Crypt Lake. I highly recommend being in somewhat good shape to enjoy this hike.
Bill Paton 5/25/2018
I did the hike a bit early so had to camp just above the lake. The camp site was still covered by one metre of snow. Got up in the middle of the night and saw the aurora borealis! Great Hike!
Sheila Dykes 7/3/2018
We hiked to Crypt Lake on Sunday, 7-1-18. We questioned more than once if we would make it, but we held steady and kept putting one foot in front of the other! It was worth screaming lungs (we are from Mississippi at an elevation of 200 ft. above sea level), tired legs and feet! To see Crypt Lake made it all worthwhile! So serene and peaceful and absolutely breathtaking! We had no trouble on the ledge part or the cable section. We were just focused and aware and we all paid attention to that section for sure. The tunnel was the hardest part for me because I have claustrophobia pretty bad. But, I did it and I am glad I did! It was worth it. Next time we are taking the earliest boat though. If you are not a truly experienced hiker use to harder climbs, you will be rushed to get back by the 5:30 pick up time. Going on the earlier boats will also give us time to hike to Hell Roaring Falls. Great hike! Super happy we did it!!! Bragging rights now for sure!
Tania 8/5/2018
I did this hike 2 weeks ago! Wow amazing! It is definately more of a difficult hike so if you are inexperienced I highly suggest get on the earliest ferry so you make it back by 530 ferry! It is worth all the effort! I took my 7 year old on this hike, yes she complained a couple times but she did it along with me! But I must say it was a big hike for me let alone a child. I would suggest if taking kids that maybe 11 12 years old would be ideal! But not younger. We ended up being stuck in a horrible rain hail storm coming down, and when we got to the bottom we still had a 45min wait for the ferry but we seen another nasty storm coming from the distance, we called the ferry and they ended up coming back for us early since we were all accounted for so we didn't get hit in the next reeeeaaalllyyy bad hail storm. So cudos to them!!!! It was an excellent experience and I'll be back to do it again!