Hellroaring Falls - Waterton - Hiking Alberta

 

The Hellroaring Falls trail is an alternative approach or retreat for the hike to Crypt Lake in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

The hike to Crypt Lake, from the east shore of Upper Waterton Lake, in Waterton Lakes National Park 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!

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada A view looking down into the Hellroaring Creek Canyon from the Crypt Lake Trail.

 

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. 

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The top trail junction to Hellroaring Falls from the Crypt Lake Trail to Crypt Landing.

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Upper Waterton Lake peeks out from the descent on the Hellroaring Falls Trail

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The Hellroaring Falls Trail is steep and rugged.

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Limited views provide a glimpse of cascading water

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Sound reverberates against the rock walls of Hellroaring Creek Canyon

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Pools of emerald water fill rock bowls created by the cascading water in Hellroaring Creek Canyon.

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Ideal light is available for a few minutes each day. Late today, contrast is too high.

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Excellent views over Upper Waterton Lake appear at the top of Hellroaring Falls.

 

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 of the entire day hike to Crypt Lake. 

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.

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The trail turn towards Crypt Landing offers a view of the Hellroaring Creek outlet into Upper Waterton Lake.

 

Hellroaring Falls - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada A nice view over Upper Waterton Lake towards Waterton Townsite as we make the final approach to Crypt Landing.

 

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 rests above the Canada/USA border with Glacier National Park in Montana and has a lot to offer.

Glacier National Park in Montana, USA must not be confused with the spectacular and more rugged Glacier National Park in British Columbia, Canada.

 

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