While there are many remarkable places in Waterton to hike, Crypt Lake is one of the best! Grab your gear and make sure you have clothing to keep you cool or warm. It may be warm when you start but it can get colder before you know it. When I first moved to Waterton, I knew I wanted to hike at Crypt Lake. It was disappointing that I had to put it on the back burner for a bit while I focused on getting settled.

I had read on several occasions that Crypt Lake is one of the best hiking experiences in all of Canada! I wanted to find out for myself, and I wasn’t disappointed! I planned to complete the hike with a good friend. We knew it was about 8.7 km each way and it would take about 3 hours in each direction. I like to stop and look around when I hike, so I planned for the adventure to take us about 7 hours.

A shuttle bus is the easiest way to get to the trailhead to hike Crypt Lake in Waterton. Some people around there have access to a water vessel and they use that instead. I paid $20 for a round trip shuttle bus so I didn’t think that was too bad. It is important to know the shuttle times though, there are two buses each morning up there and two buses back each evening.

The first part of the hike was easy enough, the ground is flat as you through the alpine forest. I saw the sign about 1 km into the hike to go to Hell Falls, off the trail about 1 km. I didn’t take it though, as it was suggested to us by the shuttle bus driver to do that on the way back. In the end, we didn’t do it though. We were just too worn out by the time we returned to that point. I knew I couldn’t realistically go 1 km in and 1 km back in addition to what we had already done. I will explore it on a future hike of Crypt Lake!

As I was hiking along with my friend, I noticed the grass and some plants. It was very pretty as we went through the trees and I could feel the incline starting. The terrain began to get rocky. There were so many switchbacks that I quickly lost track of them! I noticed the trees were diminishing as we climbed higher and higher.

They were replaced by snow on the ground and lots of rocks. I couldn’t believe how much snow we had to walk through on the trail! The incline was steep and the snow was slippery. We saw several people turning back, feeling that they couldn’t continue in such conditions.

Both myself and my friend had great hiking shoes on with plenty of traction. We felt confident we would be fine to continue. We really wanted to see the cave and the view from the ledge. We knew we were getting closer to the falls too. The back country campground isn’t there anymore, but we recognised it when we hiked through that area. It still has the hitching post for horses! Sadly, Parks Canada no longer allows anyone to camp there. If they did, I would definitely do so!

The hike was worth it, the ledge gave us the best view of the valley you can imagine. It was absolutely gorgeous! Even so, the best part of hiking Crypt Lake was exploring the cave. You enter with the use of a metal ladder but then you have to get your body really low to crawl through it. The space is small, and I imagine taller people may struggle to get through there.

On the other side of the cave is a narrow ledge. It is scary when you see how far the drop would be! They have installed a steel cable for safety. Even so, it was unreal walking that close to the ledge. The hike continues uphill to the actual lake. It was getting increasingly difficult for us to move along the trail because, by this point, it was completely covered with snow.

It was actually as high as my thighs, making movement a challenge. We pressed on because we wanted to see the lake. I was disappointed that I couldn’t get a picture of all of the mountains and the lake in the same shot. It was amazing to look at in person, and I did my best to capture what I could. My friend and I sat by the lake and at the lunch I had packed for us. We relaxed for a bit but knew we had to be heading back to catch the bus on time.

My friend told me when we got back to the trees and could move easier that if we ran we could make it for the earlier bus. If not, we would have to wait around another hour and a half for the later one. We decided to see if we could make it and took off running. My legs were so heavy by this point, and I was out of breath quickly!

My friend is an avid runner and currently training to take part in a marathon. He left me behind with very little effort. I thought what can I do to motivate myself and get there in time for the early bus? I have a great imagination, so I pretended I was being chased by monsters like you see in the movies. Our effort was all in vain though because, with about 5 minutes left until the bus would take off, we weren’t even at the Hell Roaring Falls sign yet. I knew from that point it was another 1 km to the bus stop. I think he was wrong with his time estimate for us to make it!

We slowed down our pace then, resolving we would have no choice but to wait around for the later bus. It took us another 45 minutes to get back to the bus stop, and we were tired out. We spent our time waiting relaxing by the water and stretching our leg muscles.

It was an amazing time, hiking to Crypt Lake in Waterton! I decided I was going to sign up for the Triple Crown Challenge and made a personal commitment to complete it by the end of the year. The view from Crypt Lake is unforgettable, and I encourage other hikers to go see it for themselves!