The Front Range of Waterton - Vimy Ridge

Distance: 25 km / 15.5 mi (round trip)
Time: 8 to 10 hours (plan a full day)
Elevation Gain: 1220 m / 4002 ft

Download a .gpx file of our hike here. Just click the link and download and extract the Zip file:


July 9, 2012 was a hot day for Southern Alberta, particularly in Waterton Lakes, at the townsite, approximately 4,200 feet above sea level and the peaks near 10,000 feet above sea level. The temperature was 31 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit). We started another great adventure. This trip was to summit Vimy Peak across Waterton Lakes from the townsite, walk along the ridge, descend on to the Crypt Lake Trail right before the tunnel, visit Crypt and come home on the Crypt Lake Trail. The logistics as a result of the lake make this trip a little difficult. We rafted over through the river between the middle and lower lake and picked up with Wishbone Trail. Normally you pick up the trail at Marquis Hole but Marquis Hole was closed due to a bear in the area. We ended up having to paddle down the river to the head of the lower lake where we were able to easily pick up the trail. (Added 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) approximately to our trip.) We would catch the Shoreline Cruises boat home. I had the opportunity to visit with Rod Kretz the owner of Shoreline Cruises on the way home.

Getting ready to cross the river.

We were on the trail at 7:40 a.m. and reached Vimy Peak in approximately 4 hours. The kids with us peaked an hour earlier than myself. Two of us were early 50’s and three were 18 to 22 year-olds. The trail to Vimy Peak is a very good trail (see above). with very little scrambling until you reach the very top.

You actually walk behind the ridge, ascend onto the ridge and walk on the back side of the ridge looking at Sofa.

From Vimy Peak you can see down to the townsite and get great views in all directions.

Waterton townsite.

Great views from Vimy Ridge.

Once along, at the top of the peak you can see all the way down the ridge that we were going to climb. Vimy Ridge has actually four peaks on it and we climb all four.

The walking on the ridge was easy with little difficulty. (My wife Barb thinks there are a couple of more technical/difficult spots).

Looking back at Vimy.

The only tricky part of the entire trip is to make sure that you descend off the ridge into the bowl before the Crypt Lake bowl and no sooner. The best gauge is to ensure that you have passed the trail which is very visible into Crypt Lake tunnel prior to your descent. You cannot descend either before or after that.

We came down the stream just after the fourth point and it is a little bit cliffy. If you come down too soon you will cliff out and if you go down too late you will cliff out. Best to bring ice cleats, just in case!

Max Lowe, the owner of Wieners of Waterton, told me that he had hiked over the next ridge and actually gone into the Crypt Lake bowl itself. There would be a lot of snow to do it and he told me it was a lot of snow when he did it a few weeks earlier.

Into the tunnel!

We came back down the normal Crypt Lake trail and took the Waterton Cruise back to the townsite. The entire trip was about approximately 25 kilometers and it took us approximately 9 hours from start to finish.

Keep Hiking!