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Crypt Lake Trail



6.4 mile 10.3 kilometer point to point
82% Runnable


Ascent: 2,342' 714 m
Descent: -204' -62 m
High: 6,474' 1,973 m
Low: 4,249' 1,295 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


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Map Key

Trail shared by Shannon Brunner

This trail requires a ferry to the trailhead, features stunning views of a lake, and involves crawling through a tunnel.

Shannon Brunner

Features Birding · Cave · Fishing · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Need to Know

Best used April until September.

Pack your own water, sunscreen/hat, and good running boots recommended. Check the ferry times/rates in order to prepare for this trek. There is a portion that offers runners the option of holding onto chains while running along a ledge. Those with fear of heights should be aware of this portion of the trail.


Crypt Lake Trail is consistently ranked as one of the top trails in the Canada Rockies. To reach the trailhead, you must first take a 15-minute ferry across Upper Waterton Lake. From there it is a 10.8-mile round trip run to a sparkling turquoise lake cradled by horseshoe-shaped cliffs. You'll gain 2,300 feet along the way, passing waterfalls, crawling through a tunnel, and clinging to chains bolted along a narrow ledge. Crypt Lake Trail is an exciting run to a stunning location.

Start from the boat launch at the marina for the Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company. There is no drinking water on the boat or along the trail, so pack everything you need before you start. If you are an agile runner and would like a bit more solitude along the trail, try to get to the front of the pack leaving the ferry. Otherwise, you'll find yourself trapped by slower runners moving up a singletrack trail that rarely offers a passing lane.There are just two noteworthy junctions along the trail, both with Hell-Roaring Falls Trail.

This trail can be used to add a small loop to the start of the run. The side trail provides glimpses into a canyon carved by a cascading creek, while offering excellent views over Upper Waterton Lake. The first junction with Hell-Roaring Falls Trail comes a quarter mile from the start, breaking off to the right. The second comes at 1.85 miles from Crypt Landing when the trails reunite. Hell-Roaring Falls Trail is steeper than Crypt Lake Trail, so it is preferable to save this route for the descent.

Crypt Lake Trail leaves the landing beneath a lush canopy. As you make your way up switchbacks, the forest thins and the shade disappears. Mount Boswell rises capping off an impressive valley view. Pass Twin Falls just over just over 2 mi from the start and continue to Burnt Rock Falls. The trail becomes a bit more challenging, climbing higher up the side of the valley. you'll be treated to a view of Crypt Falls, a 600-foot streak coursing down a long rock wall. It is a beautiful sight, but on this run, things only get more amazing the farther you go.

Then comes the ledge, the tunnel and the chains. The ledge has enough space to run comfortably on both sides.The lake is just a small run away after this. The route on this map sends you back via the Hell Roaring Falls Trail. This trail can be overgrown and is much less traveled. If you want to get away from the crowds it is a great option, but you can also do the run as an out and back.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers, bears, muskrat, chipmunks

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