Location: Waterton Lakes National Park
Park here: Crandell parking lot on Akamina Parkway
Public Transport: N/A
Hike Distance: 4.5 km roundtrip
Elevation Gain/Loss: Approx. 151 m
Hike Duration: 1 hour
What makes it easy? Very little elevation gain; flat, wide trails and short distance
Trail website: Click here
Crandell Lake is an excellent hike for beginners and children. This easy hike takes you through a scorched forest with beautiful mountain views. The trail is wide and flat with a couple of short inclines. The destination, Crandell Lake, is a small alpine lake nestled against Mount Crandell with a pebble beach, backcountry campsite and outhouse.
Finding the Trailhead
There are two trails to Crandell Lake: an east trail accessed via the Red Rock Parkway and a west trail accessed via Akamina Parkway.
This review is of the west trail. To find the trailhead, take a right turn onto Akamina Parkway just before reaching the Waterton townsite. It is a seven-kilometre drive to the trailhead where they have ample parking, garbage and signage.
The Hike Itself
This is an ideal hike for beginners and kids. Walk through what was once a heavily forested area. The 2017 Kenow Fire has left behind a forest of sticks which, on the bright side, affords you beautiful mountain views the entire hike.
In the first kilometre, there is a spring run-off stream which can be quite high in May but usually dries out by August.
The trail itself is very wide and flat. There is little to trip you up, which makes it a great hike for focusing on the view or letting your children explore along the trail.
As you come up to the crest of this hike, you will see a fork to the south for the townsite trail. Keep to the left and start your descent down to the lake.
You’ll soon see the lake through the trees.
Here you will descend towards the lake. The short and steady decline is the toughest part of the hike when you’re heading back to the parking lot.
You’ll notice a couple of other trails that shoot off towards the lake. You can take these down to different areas of the lake but they require you to do some climbing over rocks before reaching the shore. It’s best to stay on the main trail and head to the main beach.
The trail heads away from the lake for about 400 metres, so don’t worry if you feel like you’re heading in the wrong direction. Watch for the signage to head towards the lake. The east and west trails join together seamlessly and you will take a right onto a small trail to hit the beach.
The beach offers beautiful views. You can fish here (with a permit) if you'd like.
Before You Go:
- Carry bear spray always in Waterton
- There is limited-to-no service in this area of the park
- When you head back, remember to turn west at the fork where the two trails meet