I hiked about 50 miles of trails on this trip to Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park. And the Crypt Lake Trail in Waterton Lakes National Park was the most memorable.
The Crypt Lake Trail is ranked at or near the top of all hiking trails in Canada.
This hike begins with a ferry ride across Upper Waterton Lake to a dock at the trailhead. This lake happens to be in one of the windiest locations in Canada - meaning that the boat encounters rough water on this trip (waves were breaking over the top of the smaller boat that returned us to the marina).
Once on land, the 10.8 mile, 2,300' elevation gain trail starts in a pretty forest. Over time, the landscape opens up with great views. The trail narrows and the edges of the trail become steeper. And then you reach the cliff - and adrenaline releases.
People mentioned the narrow trail at the top, but "sidewalk" widths were referenced to us. That would not be even close to accurate.
I didn't have the strength left in me (having hiked about 40 miles before this trail) to carry more than one lens on this hike and 24mm was not wide enough to take in this absolutely spectacular view. The panorama seen here was my solution to that problem.
If you look carefully at the cliff on the left side of this photo, you can see a tiny line that is called the trail at this point. If might be 2 shoes wide, but it is sloped, not smooth and is covered with scree (small loose stones). As you can see, down appears to be a 1,000' step.
It gets better. See the dark spot on the rock just above where the trail ends? There is a narrow (one shoe+ wide) steel ladder bolted into the rock that leads to a cramped, mostly natural tunnel. And it gets even better at the other side of the tunnel.
You have to step down over rocks to the trail - which makes the trail on the other side of the tunnel look like the sidewalk it was referenced to be. The trail is barely a shoe width wide (being generous with my memory) and again filled with scree. But, you have a heavy cable bolted to the side of the mountain to hold onto. But, this cable is bolted at trail level - forcing you to walk bent far over. And, the cable is floppy - not tight.
The trail ends at a beautiful lake, but the view seen above from the face of the cliff is my biggest memory.
I should mention that, at this time of the year, there is one ferry to and one ferry from the dock each day. We had to be back before that second ferry left the dock to avoid an overnight in the wilderness. There was only one other person in this entire wilderness area on the day we hiked Crypt Trail.
The Crypt Lake Trail hike is an unforgetable, amazing experience.