- Distance: The Larch Valley Trail is 4.3 km (2.67 mi) one-way
What are larch trees?
Larch (Larix spp.) trees are a member of the pine family (Pinaceae), and they have soft, green needles most of the year. However, in autumn, the needles turn a vibrant golden yellow before they fall off.
Larch trees look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.
They are a bright golden yellow and stand out among the green trees.
When is best time to visit larch trees?
The Larch Valley hike near Moraine Lake is one of the most beautiful hikes in Banff National Park, even outside of larch season.
The Larch Valley hike rises from the shores of Moraine Lake to an extensive forest of larch trees. From this forest of larch trees, you will enjoy panoramic views of the mountains which make up the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
Moraine Lake is a glacier-fed lake with a brilliant blue-green color. Set in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and rock piles, creating a scene so beautiful it almost seems unreal.
Moraine Lake is a beautiful area to spend the day. Sit lakeside and enjoy the views and clean mountain air, or explore the lake by canoeing or paddle boarding. The lake is too cold for swimming.
The Rockpile Trail is an easy and short path with switchbacks along the back of the moraine to the top of the natural dam. The vista from the top is known as the “Twenty Dollar View”, as the scene featured on the back of Canadian twenty dollar bills issued between 1969 and 1979.
The Larch Valley trail begins just past the Moraine Lake Lodge.
The first part of the Larch Valley trail is uphill through a mossy, evergreen forest with several charming bridges over little mountain streams.
A portion of the uphill section of the Larch Valley trail is a through a series of switchbacks, and you’ll be rewarded with views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, including the Fay Glacier. Especially beautiful are the occasional glimpses of Moraine Lake, which appear turquoise colour on sunny days.
(If you zoom in close, you can see people on the zigzag trail up the mountain, and standing at the top!)
If you are standing at the Minnestimma Lakes at the bottom of Sentinel Pass, the hiking trail looks like a bolt of lightning – zigging and zagging up the side of these two majestic Lake Louise mountains. The ability to see the entire path of the dramatic Sentinel Pass trail is quite the view!
Tips for success:
Parking fills up fast. Moraine Lake is one of the most popular destinations in Lake Louise.
It is recommended to get there early (by 5:30 am or earlier!) to get parking or take the shuttle from Lake Louise.