Waterton Adventures Part 2: Crypt Lake Hike.

If you missed it, HERE is yesterday’s post about the other adventures my friend Robin and I undertook in Waterton this past weekend. Everything from pizza and beer before climbing Bear’s Hump to the weirdest museum I’ve ever been in, so if you did in fact miss it, you missed a lot. Check it out. Today I am recapping our hike to Crypt Lake, one of the most stunning hikes I have ever done. If you don’t believe me, ask National geographic about it, because they rated it one of the 19 most thrilling trails in the world in 2016.

On the Friday afternoon we arrived in Waterton, we headed to the harbour to ask about the Lake Shore Trail and getting tickets for the boat back from Goat’s Haunt. Our plans were foiled when the ticket lady asked it we had our passports. Uh, no. She informed us that recent changes to increase US security called for all passengers on the boats to Goat’s Haunt Ranger Station (border between Canada and the US) have their passport. We kindly said we want no part of being in America right now and just want to get the boat back from the border but no dice so she offered us a trip to Crypt to tackle the Crypt Lake day hike. I did this hike two years ago (when Joanna – aka Living Mint Green – and I FIRST MET, aw, how cute) so I knew what I would be getting into but Robin was a bit hesitant.

In the end we decided to go for it… which you know, because otherwise this would be the worst blog post of all time. We signed up for the 10am boat to the trail head and the 5:30pm boat back. In the morning we were excited and nervous for the day ahead, packing lots of snacks and water because we knew it would be a hot day and lots of hiking! We arrived at the trail head just after 10:15am and began the ascent to Crypt. I was able to test out the ‘hike’ feature of my new Garmin 935 which told us we hiked about 8.7km to Crypt in two and a half hours, gaining 2400ft in elevation.

It is an amazing trail, full of every type of terrain and scenery. You pass waterfall after waterfall, mountain lakes, wildflowers, forest, a touch of scrambling, creek beds, a cable rope, a tunnel, a ladder… it’s one hell of an adventure. Robin definitely felt the climb going up as it gets pretty steep when you get out of the trees. We took our time and while we stopped a few times, we pretty much power housed it up and get there as many of the 9am boat passengers were arriving as well. She did so great and it was really fun to tackle this day together!

We arrived at Crypt ready for lunch so we sat in the gorgeous sunshine and devoured our veggie and avocado sandwiches, apples, and trail mix. There was a brief encounter with a horse fly and my left butt cheek on the way up but that was only the painful start to my insect whispering as I had this little guy join me for lunch. It was hilarious as he just sat there and hung out as I had lunch. There were still areas with snow around the lake but it was super hot up there as the temperatures climbed around 28C throughout the day. After about 30-40 minutes of eating and resting, we headed back down.

We opted to take the Hell Roaring Falls route back to the boat which added a kilometre and an extra waterfall sighting on to our distance. We hiked 9.3km back to the boat, still with about 400ft of elevation, and that was going DOWN! It took us the same amount of time going down as it did going up, with the added kilometre included as we could get down some of the steep sections faster than going up. The energy lows definitely hit a couple times as we ventured down so we stopped to grab a snack and water at the falls on the way. It was super hot, we had been in the sunshine for hours, and hiking for most of it, so it was really hard to gauge our dehydration. Robin was pretty tired (of course, I was too, but I find myself really able to gauge when I need water and when I’m running low on fuel and energy which has proven really really helpful this summer) but we made it down. We actually flew down so fast that we made the 4pm boat back to Waterton!

I am so proud of Robin for our awesome hike and I am happy we were able to do Crypt despite it not being our Plan A when we talked about this trip. It’s one of my favourite hikes, just for the variety and beauty is provides in a day, plus that fact that you get a ton of bonus fun stuff like a boat ride to and from the trailhead, a ladder, a mountain tunnel to crawl through, and a dip in the lake if you so choose at the top! When we reached Waterton we grabbed our flip-flops and headed to the water to cool off our feet.

Nothing feels better after a hike than ice cream and a shower so we stopped at the Waterton Townsite Campground to borrow their showers and then made our way to Welch’s Pie Shop for a scoop of ice cream. As we sat outside the shop eating our ice cream that familiar feeling of sheer exhaustion and accomplishment set in. It was a challenging day but it was super fun. I highly recommend this hike and I’m sure once Robin forgives me for taking her on an 18km, over 5 hour hike, she will recommend it too! 😉

What was the last hike you did? What’s your favourite?

What ice cream flavour is your jam this summer?


  1. We couldn’t get over the abundance of wildflowers when we did the hike, too! Late June/early July is prime viewing in Waterton! They have a wildflower fest each year (of possible interest)

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