Highlights: Crystal clear blue lake, spectacular mountain scenery, third highest mountain in the Rockies.
Activities: Sightseeing, photography, walking, hiking, canoeing.
Location: Ten minutes from Lake Louise, one hour west of Banff.
Time: Minimum of one half-hour at the lake.
“I arrived at five in the morning and walked briskly up the trail leading from the lake’s edge towards the towering peak above. When the sun finally rose two hours later, I was ready for it, sitting amongst a carpet of golden larches, peaks glowing a brilliant orange all around me. It still ranks as one of my most memorable hiking experiences.”
Larch Valley at Moraine Lake
September 7, 1994
Photographs © Nature Works
Featuring a crystal clear blue-green lake, a valley hemmed in by ten lofty mountain peaks, and a hanging valley of larches beneath the third highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, it’s little wonder that Moraine Lake rivals Lake Louise in scenic grandeur and fame. One look from the Rockpile at the lake’s edge, and you’re hooked, the scene from the back of Canada’s old $20 bill emblazoned into your memory forever.
From the village of Lake Louise, follow Lake Louise Drive up to the Moraine Lake turn-off and then drive past the Paradise Valley trailhead until you reach a large parking lot on the shores of the lake (12.5 km/7.5 mi from the turn-off). Be sure to bring your camera for pictures of the spectacular view of the lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks (the series of ten mountain peaks that runs from the edge of the lake along the left side of the entire valley).
At the shoreline in front of the parking lot, the Rockpile (literally, a pile of rocks!) is on your left and the lodge is on your right, while straight ahead is the lake and the start of the Wenkchemna peaks. To your right high above the lodge is the icy peak of Mount Temple, the third highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies at 3,540 metres (11,500 feet).
The area offers a wide variety of recreational options. You can rent a canoe from the boat dock and paddle down to the end of the lake, you can take in an easy stroll along the shoreline, or you can hike to any number of wonderful destinations, including the Consolation Lakes, Larch Valley, Sentinel Pass and Eiffel Lake.