Entertaining mountain bike loop that starts in town.

Quick Stats

  • Distance: 23.1Km
  • Height Gain : 500m
  • Round Trip Time: 2h25m
  • Surface Type: Paved / Dirt / Rock
  • Weapon of choice: Rental Mountain Bike

Mount Crandell, seen here, makes the backdrop for the town of Waterton. Although it seems like a huge mountain, it is possible to ride a mountain bike around the perimeter.
Step 1, get a bike. If you happen to have left your $10,000 carbon fiber bike at home, or it doesn’t actually exist, you can rent a bike from the small gas station in town. The bikes are from a reputable brand but may not be in top form. One of ours had trouble shifting and staying in gear. But don’t let that stop you from having a good time. Besides, we all the know the fastest bikes are rental bikes. Sign a waiver and pick a bike from the rack to start your adventure!
Leaving from the east side of town is a pleasant, paved bike path. Follow this until the Red Rock Parkway where you will hang a left.
Immediately after you lave the paved path is a handy Parks Canada Map. You have a choice here. Ride your bike down the Red Rocks Parkway Road or take the dirt trail that parallels it. We had read this portion of the trail had sandy washed-out sections that were tough going. Given the issues we were having with the bike we opted for the road ride.
The scenery along the Red Rock Parkway is very good. Although there isn’t much of a shoulder, it wasn’t that busy as far as traffic goes. The speed limit is 50km/h which feels a bit safer than being passed at highway speeds by tourists distracted by the scenery.
When you reach the Crandell Lake turn off hang a left. In 2022 the campground was still closed being rebuilt after the fires.
At the Crandell Lake parking lot are toilets and big rocks at the right height to sit on. The perfect place to take a break and fuel up. It’s all uphill from here, or at least until you get to the lake.
Initially, the Crandell Lake trail is wide, flat and just meanders along the creek, easy going.
The trail eventually narrows and starts the climb toward the lake. All junctions are well signed making navigation straight forward. Mountain bikes are permitted on the Crandell Lake trail as of 2022.
For the most part, the trail is easy to mountain bike up. There are a few rocky bits you may have to walk up if you are not accustomed to mountain biking in the Rockies. Nothing is very technical or difficult.
After roughly 14.5km and about 400m of elevation from Waterton Townsite you will reach Crandell Lake. This would be the perfect spot for a cool refreshing dip on a hot summer day. Or perhaps a delicious refreshment on one of the logs. Mind the tiny frogs that hang out on the shore.
After leaving the lake, you can return the same way, but where is the fun in that? Instead, continue around the west side of the lake and climb another ~150m to the pass above the lake.
And of course, reaching the pass means time for the traditional summit selfie!
As they say, it is all downhill from here. This will get the brakes warm on the rental bike. You can drop down to the highway below, but I personally would suggest staying on the dirt trail that is above and parallel to the road.
Well maybe not all downhill. The trail does occasionally meet up with he highway if you need an easier way out. But of course, we kept to the mountain bike trail the entire way, even if that meant a couple more short uphill grinds.
This looks like fun. Send it! Or walk your bike down this part, you decide.
Eventually, the trail will emerge on the North side of the town. Perfect time to drop off the bike and go have a well-earned beverage by the lake.


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