Banff National Park, Canada

Great Lodge Hikes

Local Activities at Moraine Lake Lodge

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One way to truly experience and appreciate the mountains is to explore them on foot. At Moraine Lake, we offer trails that vary from simple leisurely strolls to those that require climbing experience, equipment, and physical endurance.

Summer is a great time to hike in the area if you like to view the spectacular wildflowers. Although trails are busier this time of the year the spectacular wildflower viewing outweighs the “busy trails.” Common wildflowers include pasque flowers (“prairie and violets.”)

Moraine Lake Trails

The Rock Pile

The short, interpretive trail up the Rockpile, located adjacent to the Lodge, provides a detailed introduction to the environment and the history of the Ten Peaks. From the lower parking lot, cross the bridge over the outlet stream, and follow the trail to the top of this knoll. There are plaques along the path showing examples of various species and rock formations that comprise the Rockpile. The “Twenty Dollar” view can be seen here as it is the exact location found on the old Canadian Twenty Dollar bill. There are many Picas and Marmots living in and around the Rockpile. Common birds in this area are the Whiskey Jack, Clarks Nutcracker and the Raven.

  • Distance: 0.35 km (0.22 miles) one way
  • Time: 20 minutes one way
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 30 m (100′)
  • Maximum elevation: 1919 m (6300′)

Lakeshore Trail

This trail follows the forested shore of the lake to its inlet and is appealing to all ages. The trail head is located near the canoe docks. It is a flat, easy walk with a boardwalk at the south end of the lake just next to the stream rushing in from the Wenkchemna Glacier. The wildlife that frequent this trail are the squirrel, porcupine, harlequin duck, and dipper.

  • Distance: 1.2 km (0.75 miles) one way
  • Time: 20-30 minutes one way
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 5m (15′)
  • Maximum elevation: 1889 m (6205′)

Consolation Lakes Trail

This hike leads into the heart of the mountains with a rewarding destination of beautiful surroundings. From the lower parking lot, cross the bridge over the outlet stream and continue to Consolation Lakes. The trail passes beyond the Rockpile and passes through a quartzite boulder field. From this region of tumbled rock the trail rises into a pleasant forest of Engelmann Spruce and Sub-Alpine Fir trees for 2 km. The path eventually opens up to a meadow just prior to reaching the lower of the two lakes. A large rock slide separates the lower and upper lakes which was once one lake. The meadow is a
peaceful hideaway. The impressive glacier-covered cliffs of Mt. Quadra which has four peaks and Bident Mountain to the left, contributing to the comforting atmosphere. On the walk through this forest, hikers may see porcupines, hoary marmots, picas, squirrels and various birds, including Grey Jays, Kinglets and Woodpeckers.

  • Distance: 2.9 km (1.8 miles) one way
  • Time: 1 hr one way
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 66 m (215′)
  • Maximum elevation: 1950 m (6400′)

Larch Valley / Sentinel Pass

Located right outside your doorstep, Larch Valley is an excellent area to view the many examples of wildflowers. Hike the trail with one of our on-site Naturalists to learn flower types or venture out alone. Either way, you will approach a wonderful meadow full of colourful wildflowers.

For the more ambitious hiker, the trip to Larch Valley is more challenging and longer than the previous trails mentioned. This trail is an extension of the Lakeshore Trail, gradually leading away from the water until it is a distant blue pool. It is one of the more popular excursions in Banff National Park as the subalpine meadow turns into a golden valley in the fall when the Larch tree needles turn from a soft green to a bright yellow. This image is so well known that the trail is often very crowded in the fall.

The trail branches north (right) from the shore of Moraine Lake, just beyond the canoe docks. The first kilometre of steady uphill prepares you for the really hard work on this hike – ten switchbacks – that deliver you to the mouth of Larch Valley. At the top of the switchbacks, the trail branches right to Larch Valley and gradually climbs through a treeline forest dominated by Lyall’s Larch. The trail winds its way into the lower valley and crosses a footbridge to a meadow.

  • Time: 1-2 hrs one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 520 m (1650′)
  • Maximum elevation: 2425 m (7890′)

Hikers can climb further up the switchbacks to Sentinel Pass, approximately 5.8 km (3.6 miles) from Moraine Lake and 200 m (650’) higher than Larch Valley. This pleasant hike concludes at the highest point to which trails go in this area, with a maximum elevation of 2605 m (8500’). It offers an expansive view of the Ten Peaks as well as Paradise Valley on the other side of the pass.

Strong hikers can make a make a full day outing by continuing over Sentinel Pass and descending into Paradise Valley. The trail is poorly defined as it switchbacks steeply down through scree and boulders. From the summit of Sentinel Pass to the junction with Paradise Valley trail is 2.3 km and a vertical descent of 500 m. At this intersection you can continue right to Lake Annette or left to the Giant Steps. Both trails join again lower in the valley and follow to Moraine Lake Road.

Eiffel Lake / Wenkchemna Pass

This is another awe-inspiring area that tends to see fewer hikers than Larch Valley. The trail follows the same course as the Larch Valley trail for the first 2.4 km. Continuing left along the crest of the ridge, instead of taking the trail to Larch Valley, the path soon opens up to an area surrounded by boulders and mountain peaks. One bonus to this path is that after the junction to Larch Valley, the next 3 km are virtually flat as the trail winds around the mountain side. This area provides a panoramic view of Eiffel Peak and all of the ten peaks. At the 5.6 km mark, the trail passes across a steep scree slope and skirts above the frigid waters of Eiffel Lake. This lake is unique because it is the result of an avalanche that came from Neptuak Mountain (the ninth peak). The lake
was formed amongst the rocks from a depression in the land, unlike most other lakesin the Rockies that were formed from hollows in the land caused by glaciers.

  • Distance: 5.6 km (3.5 miles)
  • Time: 2-3 hrs one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 315 m (1030′)
  • Maximum elevation: 2225 m (7230′)

Hikers can climb further to Wenkchemna Pass, approximately 9.7 km from Moraine Lake and 380 m (1235’) higher than Eiffel Lake. This pleasant hike concludes with a maximum elevation of 2605 m (8500’). To reach the pass you must first cross rolling alpine tundra, glacial moraine and rockslides (much of this section of the trail may be obscured by snowfields before late July). At the top, this high summit is an excellent viewpoint down the length of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. On the other side one views meadows in Yoho National Park. The rock formation in the meadows there is called Eagle Eyrie. From the ground the rock formation resembles an eagle.

Paradise Valley / Lake Annette

The Paradise Valley Circuit is one of the longer hikes in the Moraine Lake area. With its alluring combination of forest, lakes, glaciers, meadows, waterfalls and imposing mountains, Paradise Valley provides one of the most complete hiking experiences in the Canadian Rockies. The first few kilometres are uneventful as the trail is mainly enclosed within a forest of Spruce and Alpine Fir. Approaching Lake Annette, you will immediately notice the extraordinary ice capped north face of Mount Temple (the third highest mountain in Banff).

  • Distance: 5.7 km (3.5 miles) one way
  • Time: 2 hrs one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 186 m (605′)
  • Maximum elevation: 1965 m (6386′)

For those continuing on, there are many more magnificent sites to be found, including the Giant Steps and the Horseshoe Meadows.

Lake Louise Trails

Lake Louise Lakeshore

This trail runs along the shore of the lake and is appealing to all ages and physical ability. It is a flat developed trail along the northwest edge of the lake only (viewer’s right).

  • Distance: 1.9 km (1.2 miles) one way
  • Time: 30 minutes one way
  • Difficulty: Easy (first 300 m are paved)
  • Elevation gain: 0 m

Lake Agnes Teahouse

The hike to Lake Agnes is the most popular excursion in the Rockies, probably due to the presence of a tea house on the lakeshore. The original teahouse was thought to be constructed in 1901.

The trail branches from the Lake Louise Shoreline trail just beyond the Chateau. The first 2 km of the trail finds oneself surrounded by dense sub-alpine forest, the most common trees being Engelmann Spruce and Sub-Alpine Fir. Beyond the viewpoint a gradual transition to upper subalpine forest takes place.

  • Distance: 3.4 km (2.2 miles) one way
  • Time: 1-2 hrs one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 400 m (1300′)
  • Maximum elevation: 2135 m (7000′)

Hikers can climb further to either the Little Beehive or Big Beehive. The trail continues for another 1.6 km around the far end of the lake, climbs a short, steep incline (a gain of another 120 m), then traverses eastward along the summit ridge to the viewpoint gazebo.

Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House

This hike passes through some of the most interesting glacial scenery in Banff National Park and delivers you to the jumble of ice and rock at the foot of Mt. Victoria. At the end of the trail, hikers will be delighted to find a teahouse, constructed in 1924, which serves lunch, refreshments and snacks.

The hike is a continuation of the Lake Louise Shoreline walk, and initially passes directly beneath hundred metre cliffs that are a favorite spot for rock climbers.

  • Distance: 5.3 km (3.3 miles) one way
  • Time: 2 hrs one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 365 m (1200′)
  • Maximum elevation: 2100 m (6900′)

Saddleback

This hike begins from the shore of Lake Louise and ends at a beautiful little pass set among the larches. With an average grade of 16 percent, this trail makes a beeline for the “saddle” connecting Fairview and Saddle mountains.

Keep straight ahead at the Fairview Lookout and Moraine Lake trail junctions. The summit of Saddleback is a pleasant upland meadow, fringed by stands of alpine larch and, in early summer, covered with buttercups, western anemone, alpine speewell and many other wildflowers.

  • Distance: 3.7 km (2.3 miles) one way
  • Time: 1-2 hrs one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 595 m (1950′)
  • Maximum elevation: 2330 m (7650′)

Hikers can climb further, another 415 metres, to the summit of Fairview Mountain at an elevation of 2745 metres. From the pass, a track leads northwest toward Fairview. It is an introductory peak for novice mountaineers. As the mountain’s name implies, the summit panorama is one of the finest near Lake Louise.

Intimate Classic Amazing!

There are 10 mountain lodges in the four Mountain Parks surrounding Moraine Lake. Wander from lodge to lodge and soak up some of the local history and enjoy lunch or afternoon tea. Some, such as Lake Agnes Teahouse and Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse, are accessible only by hiking.

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