We didn’t have plans for Waterton other than to do some day hikes. Because of the nearby fires, there were only a few trails open so our options were very limited. The good news was that the trail to Crypt Lake was open. It was rated as one of the Top 20 most thrilling hiking trails in the world by National Geographic so it seemed like a no brainer.
The Crypt Lake trailhead requires a ferry across Waterton Lake. The issue with taking a ferry is that everyone is starting the trail at the same time. We were behind ~20 people, and who knows how many more behind us. After a half mile or so, you have the option to take a side trail to some waterfalls. We were originally planning to do this on the way down from the lake, but decided it was better to do it at the start and get away from the crowds.
From the waterfalls, you hike through a forest eventually connecting back up with the main trail. There are a couple of other nice waterfalls along the river flowing through the valley below.
Once above the tree line, the trail starts to open up to nice a view.
As you get closer, the trail starts to narrow and gets very steep to the right. If you are afraid of heights, this is probably not going to be your favorite hike!
The narrow ledge that you hike along brings you to a tunnel which you must climb through.
On the other side of the tunnel, the trail begins to climb up. There is a chain anchored into the wall to assist with the climb. I can’t imagine trying to do this section without it!
We finally reached the lake where we had a nice lunch and soaked in the sun.
We had some extra time on the way down so we stopped at one of the waterfalls we had hurried past on the way up.
While at the waterfall, we noticed the smoke from the fire across the lake had started to pick up. It eventually grew to cover the sun – very creepy!
We made it back to the main trailhead around 4 pm where we took the ferry back to the main dock. With the smoke becoming so intense, we decided to find a restaurant and hole up in inside. After dinner, the smell has decreased (or maybe we just used to it) so we headed back to camp.