The Hellroaring Falls trail is an alternative approach or retreat on the hike to Crypt Lake.
The hike to Crypt Lake, from the east shore of Upper Waterton Lake, in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada, provides a trail option about 0.4 KM (¼ mile) from the beginning of the Crypt Landing trail-head. The options are the main Crypt Lake trail or the hike through Hellroaring Creek Canyon.
The main trail is a 2.6 KM (1.6 mile) option. The alternative Hellroaring Creek Canyon trail is the 1.8 KM (1.1 mile) trail past Hellroaring Falls. The decision is a no-brainer, right? Take the shorter trail with the waterfalls on it. Wrong!
The Crypt Lake Trail is good quality and gains elevation on well-graded switchbacks. The Hellroaring Falls Trail, through the dramatic Hellroaring Creek Canyon from the lower elevation junction, initially loses elevation then proceeds to the upper elevation junction on rugged, poorly maintained trail, without switchbacks to buffer the climb.
The Hellroaring Falls Trail is not a good option for the hike up but may be a consideration for the return hike, depending on your mental and physical state towards the end of the moderately challenging Crypt Lake hike.
There is a viewpoint at the top of a waterfall which could have been investigated further with more time, more water and more strength. The Crypt Lake hike took its toll over the eight + hours.
There are some days when hitting the switch creates nothing happening and this was the most compromised hiking day since Balu Pass, so towards the end of this Crypt Lake hike a fair amount of energy is used to maintain a positive attitude. Additionally, heat and exhaustion is taking its toll.
Mount Crandell is a welcome vision looming over Waterton Village and the Prince of Wales Hotel on the final approach to Crypt Landing.
The Hellroaring Falls hike has more to offer given appropriate energy and time. I believe there are huge opportunities to extend the exploration, to do some off trail, and be in the right place at the right time for photographs in a deep canyon. The recommendation is to use the boat shuttle to Crypt Landing from Waterton Marina and optimize the time spent hiking the Hellroaring Creek Canyon as a full-day, single-objective mission.
There might be enough time to explore part of the Wishbone Trail for views across Upper Waterton Lake and Vimy Peak features. A long-day alternative would be to bike the Wishbone Trail south from Maskinonge Lake as far as possible along the south shore of Middle Waterton Lake, then hike the Wishbone Trail further south to Crypt Landing. This would allow a mid-day exploration of the Hellroaring Falls Trail in both directions with off trail excursions before returning the same way. There would be a goldmine of fabulous views from the Wishbone Trail.
And then, there is the Vimy Ridge to Vimy Peak hike off the Wishbone Trail. Alas, so much to do and so little time. Waterton Lakes National Park has a lot to offer.