Moraine Lake Bus Company
- July 6, 2023
Moraine Lake’s hiking trails offer something for travellers of all skill levels and interests. They provide an excellent way to stay active, enjoy the great outdoors, and, most importantly — see as much of the area as possible.
The region is mostly accessible from early June until mid-October. In the summer months, sections of the trail cross alpine meadows full of wildflowers. In the fall, the larch trees that populate the mountainsides and paths turn to a brilliant gold. Whatever month you choose to visit, we’re confident you’ll be blown away by the spectacular scenic views.
At Moraine Lake Bus Company, we offer pick up spots and destinations for guests wishing to get to Moraine Lake’s hiking trails with zero fuss. With your transport booked through our reliable service and your hiking route planned, all you need to do is lace up your hikers, pack your trail mix, show up and enjoy!
Our Shuttle to Moraine Lake
First, you’ll need to know how to get there — whether you’re looking to access the trails starting at Moraine Lake or you simply want to visit the lake to take photos and sit and enjoy the mountain range and lake before you — we can get you there.
Our Moraine Lake schedule is easy to navigate and super straightforward. We pride ourselves on doing one thing and doing it exceptionally well!
We offer shuttle services to Moraine Lake from two convenient pick-up locations in the Lake Louise area. Our shuttles depart as early as 4 a.m., and our final returns leave at either 6:20 p.m. or 8 p.m. (depending on the time of year). Please note that some of our buses make a one-hour stop at Lake Louise on the way to their final destination at Moraine Lake.
Through our user-friendly website, you can effortlessly secure both your departure and return ticket — unlike other services, we let you book a specific return time, so you’re not left waiting on weary, post-hike legs for your bus back to town. We’ll be there when we say we will.
Now that you know how to get to Moraine Lake, here are the best hikes at Moraine Lake.
Larch Valley Trail
Named after the larch trees common in the area, the Larch Valley Hike is a moderately challenging route, so if you’re not an avid trail goer, there might be better choices for you.
Starting by the canoe docks on the lake, this is an out-and-back trail, nearly 5 km each way and climbing 600 metres. It takes most groups around four hours to complete, depending on your pace.
The trail starts with approximately one-and-a-half hours of switch backing up 450 m on a pathway that winds through thick evergreen forest. Once you’ve climbed this part of the hike, the trail will even out into a mellower ascent for the remainder, with larch trees surrounding you and an amazing view of the Ten Peaks behind you. This Moraine Lake trail ends at a series of small alpine lakes called Minnestimma Lakes, where you’ll experience incredible views of the surrounding mountains and a reflection of the Ten Peaks (more like Twenty Peaks!).
What else can you expect to see on this trail? This being a quintessential Moraine Lake trail, there are open areas of wildflowers during the summer season, and at the start of the fall — approximately mid-September onwards — you’ll experience the larch trees in all their splendour. As the name suggests, this is widely considered to be the best spot for viewing larch trees in larch season.
Sentinel Pass Trail – An Extension of the Larch Valley Trail
Once you reach the endpoint of the trail at Minnestimma Lake, you can choose to extend your adventure and head onwards to Sentinel Pass.
This is a challenging (and approximate one-and-a-half-kilometre) add-on each way. It takes hikers up a further 170-metre incline that will require around 30 minutes to climb, depending on your pace. Once you arrive, you’ll find a lookout spot that overlooks Paradise Valley and the Grand Sentinel.
Eiffel Lake Trail
Many locals consider this moderately-challenging hike the most beautiful in the area! Starting by the canoe docks on Moraine Lake, the hike is a 10 km round-trip with 600 metres of climbing. It takes most groups around four hours to complete, depending on your pace.
Following the initial switchback-filled, zigzagging incline you’d take for the Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass trails mentioned above, the path eventually branches off, providing a clearly signed route to Eiffel Lake.
Once you pass the fork, the trail incline generally levels out and is reasonably flat for 3 km until you reach Eiffel Lake. You’ll spend this leg of the journey hiking through forests and wildflower meadows. In mid-July, you’ll see yellow arnica flowers lining the paths; in late spring, you may encounter some patches of snow.
The trail view eventually opens out to Eiffel Lake below. Here you’ll see the dark blue waters of the lake reflecting the rocky terrain surrounding it, with Wenkchemna Peak, Deltaform Mountain and Neptuak Mountain in the distance.
Wenkchemna Pass – An Extension of the Eiffel Lake Trail
If you still have the energy, you can continue from Eiffel Lake to Wenkechemna Pass. This is one of the more challenging hikes in the area, with a further elevation gain of 300 metres from Eiffel Lake. However, your endurance will be rewarded; the hike and views are considered some of the best in Banff due to the epic scenery and varied terrains you’ll experience.
Most of the trail takes you through open alpine meadows before eventually gaining the pass and views into Prospector Valley and British Columbia. The views from the top make it all worthwhile, though.
An important note: Together, the Eiffel Lake and Wenkchemna Pass trail is collectively an 18 km (11 mile) round trip and will take most groups approximately six hours to complete. Of course, this timing is only an estimate, as everyone’s pace varies. If you have concerns about factoring in timings and meeting your return shuttle, call us, and we can gladly help you plan your day at Moraine Lake!
The Rockpile Trail
This is the easiest hike at Moraine Lake, and it’s where most visitors go to take the coveted ‘Moraine Lake’ photo. This short trail is under one kilometre long and climbs only 30 metres. The total trip will take you approximately 20 minutes, give or take!
The view from this spot is one of the most photographed views in Canada — which says a lot! Here, you’ll see uninterrupted views of Moraine Lake in all its glory. The famous Moraine Lake sunrise is especially beautiful from the viewpoint at the Rockpile; it’s where many of the guests from our 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. sunrise shuttles go first to sit and take in the stunning sunrise before they start their day. This is also the quietest time to see the lake!
The Shoreline/Lakeshore Trail
Another Moraine Lake hike that’s fantastic for beginners (as well as for those with young children) is the Shoreline Trail. It’s also a great option if you went too hard on the trails the day before! Beginning at the canoe docks, it’s approximately 2 km to the back of the lake, so it should take most people a little under an hour each way.
The Lakeshore Trail is perfectly flat and weaves alongside Moraine Lake through the forest. There are fantastic views of Mount Fay and Mount Quadra along the way, with plenty of opportunities to sit on benches and take in your surroundings. The boardwalk marks the trail’s end, making it an easy route to navigate.
This Moraine Lake hike can be combined with the Rockpile Trail (as mentioned above) to create a walk that’s seven kilometres in length (for the round trip) and will take around two hours. This easy-to-travel hike rewards visitors with some of the best views from the lakeside of the area above.
Consolation Lakes Hike
We wanted to include another more leisurely hike in this guide to Moraine Lake hiking trails. While most visitors will head to the Rockpile to take photos then head back to the shuttle stop, this family-friendly Moraine Lake hike continues onwards from the Rockpile. It is an excellent way for the less-experienced hiker to dip their toes into hiking and experience a more leisurely walk in the Canadian Rockies.
The hike to Consolation Lakes is relatively flat and only 4 km each way, so most groups arrive after only hiking for one hour. Shortly after the trailhead (which branches out from the Rockpile path), you’ll experience a short stint over a small patch of uneven rock. This patchwork of strewn quartzite results from a rockslide from the Tower of Babel which you’ll see to your right.
Don’t worry; once you’ve cleared this area, the ground surface levels. The remainder of the hike winds through dense forest alongside a stream fed by nearby melting glaciers before eventually reaching the lower of the two lakes. The views here are phenomenal. Two of the Ten Peaks, Mount Fay and Mount Babel, will stand above you, and at the end of the lake is the magnificent Mount Quadra and Quadra Glacier.
Last, let’s cover some general housekeeping rules for when you’re on Moraine Lake hiking trails — and other trails in the Canadian Rockies.
Housekeeping While in The Rockies
The Banff area sees over four million visitors a year. It makes sense; it’s beautiful! However, whether you’re exploring one of the Moraine Lake hikes we’ve noted here, or other trails in one of Canada’s National Parks, there are some simple rules that all visitors are asked to follow.
- Please stay on the path and leave the natural areas as they are.
- Leave no trace. It’s important for everyone to take all of their garbage home with them, including fruit peels, cores, and cigarette butts.
- Don’t feed the wildlife.
- Don’t pick or remove wildflowers.
- Keep dogs on a leash.
- It’s advised to carry bear spray, travel in groups and make consistent noise so as not to alarm wildlife with your approach.
What Should You Bring?
Layers are always recommended in the Rockies. Think a wicking base layer, microfleece, puffy jacket and raincoat. Convertible pants that zip below the knee are also great for July and August. Layers are especially important if you take a Moraine Lake hike that reaches a higher altitude.
In addition to layers of clothing, be sure to bring the following:
- Sunscreen — even on cooler days, sun protection is vital.
- A toque or baseball cap.
- Water and snacks.
- Hiking boots or hiking shoes
- A basic First Aid kit — in case you develop blisters from your hiking shoes, for example.
- Bring bug repellent and wear long pants and shirts if you can. Mosquitos and Black Flies are most active from the end of June through mid-August.
The Takeaway on the Best Moraine Lake Hiking Trails
There are even more Moraine Lake hiking trails and scrambles besides those we covered here, but this selection should give you a clear idea of the area’s range of trail opportunities. Taking a hike — regardless of the distance — is a wonderful way to see the lake and its surrounding viewpoints from a different perspective.
Let us know if you’re planning a trip to Moraine Lake this summer or early fall! We’re a team of experienced locals, and we’d love to help you get there (and back) and answer any questions you might have about the area. We are confident that the Moraine Lake Bus Company can help get you there!