Crypt Lake Hike

A few weeks ago I hiked one of Canada’s top 10 hikes, if not one of the best in the world. Crypt Lake, located in Waterton Lakes National Park, is a difficult 20.4 km hike with an elevation gain of 936 metres. To access the hiking trail you’ll need to take the Shoreline Ferry across Waterton Lake, about a 15 minute journey, which costs $30 per person.

After exiting the ferry the hike starts off right away with a bunch of switchbacks in a forested area. Grizzly bears frequent this area so this is a very critical hike to have bear spray on.

About 1/4 way through the hike you’ll finally emerge from the trees for a bit, where you’ll spot a waterfall off to your right. It’s quite pretty so be sure to snap a photo.

Continuing along the trail you’ll encounter numerous more switchbacks, with the treeline thinning out around 1/2 way along the hike. You’ll then see the second waterfall off into the distance.

About 3/4 of the way through the hike you come across a narrow ledge, about 300 metres long, which you must carefully traverse. After traversing the ledge you’ll find a small ladder, which you ascend, and then have a ~100 metre long tunnel which you must crawl through. Be careful to not smack your head like I did.

After emerging from the tunnel you’ll have a fairly technical 300 metres section with a bunch of chains. Just take your time as any mistake could result in a plunge to your death many hundreds of metres below. It’s not hard physically, but it is a bit nerve wracking.

After the chained section its a mostly flat hike to the lake. At Crypt Lake I changed into my bathing suit and carefully stepped into the freezing cold water. The water here was much colder than that of Carnarvon Lake the previous week.

After enjoying my time at the lake it was time to head back to catch the ferry back. There are two times the return ferry sails at. Make sure you get back in time, because it’s a tremendously long hike back (6+ hours) if you miss it. The times vary from season to season so be sure to check on their website. The hike took me just over 5 hours to complete.

Carnarvon Lake Hike

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hiking one of Alberta’s premier hikes, if not one of the top hikes in Canada. Carnarvon Lake, located in the Kananaskis area, is a difficult 20.4 km hike with an elevation gain of 857 metres. The hike starts off flat, going through a pasture area, where I saw a bunch of cows grazing.

About 2 kilometres later you’ll come across one of two river crossings. You’ll want a pair of water shoes here so you don’t soak your hiking boots. Even in mid-July the water was up to my waist, and somewhat strong so make sure to follow proper river crossing techniques. If you’re travelling with a partner, put the stronger person upstream, unclip your backpack, and gently cross the river. Hiking poles may also be useful here, however I don’t hike with them.

After the first river crossing you’ll walk about another 0.5 kilometers to the second river crossing, which is only about 1 foot deep, but you’ll still want water shoes for that one.

After crossing the second river you’ll enter a forested area that has a somewhat gentle incline for the next 2/3rd’s of the hike. After the forested area you’ll emerge to a steep scree (loose shale over a slope), with a bunch of switchbacks containing a few chains, and even a ladder, before emerging at the freezing cold turquoise blue lake.

I soaked in the freezing cold lake for a while to cool off, as it was 32°C out the day I went hiking. After cooling off it was time to head back to the car. The descent is a bit more difficult than the ascent, so make sure to just take your time and be careful. The hike took me about 7.5 hours return, but I was taking my time.