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9 BEST Hikes that Start from Moraine Lake

9 BEST Hikes that Start from Moraine Lake

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Every year, millions of people flock to see Moraine Lake, one of the most scenic and iconic lakes in Banff! Honestly, the photos really don’t do it justice; it’s one of those places that you have to see in person to really take it all in.

That being said, one of my favorite things about Moraine Lake is actually what goes on around the lake. Many visitors visit every year and have absolutely no idea about the amazing hikes that start from Moraine Lake, which I think is such a shame!

Some of these trails simply trace the edge of the lake, while others venture into the wilderness to give some pretty epic views!

I thought it’d be a great idea to showcase some of my all-time favorite trails that start from Moraine Lake, from routes suitable for beginner hikers to families and all the way up to grizzled trail veterans. I’ve also shared some of my tips for how to get to Moraine Lake now that it’s closed to personal vehicles. But don’t worry, getting there is part of the adventure, and every moment you spend on these trails will be so worth the journey.

Whether you’re planning to get here for sunrise (my personal recommendation!), or plan to spend one day in Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, fitting in a trail or two will definitely make for a memorable experience, and you’ll get your steps in and have plenty of awesome photos to show for it.

So, let’s dive in and get to know Moraine Lake’s best trails!

How to Get to Moraine Lake

roam bus at a stop in Banff going to Lake Louise
Taking the Roam bus is just so convenient!

As Moraine Lake has been getting more and more popular (and crowded with cars) over the years, Parks Canada has decided to shut the lake to personal vehicles as of 2023 (with the exception of those with disabilities). Obviously, this has shaken things up a little bit, and may leave you scratching your head wondering exactly what the best way to get to the lake is.

I’ve written an entire blog dedicated to how to get to Moraine Lake, but in short, let’s talk about some of the best options:

The Moraine Lake Shuttle:

One of the most convenient ways to visit the lake now is with the Moraine Lake shuttle, which departs every 20 minutes from the Lake Louise Ski Resort parking lot every day between the beginning of June and mid-October (6:30 am to 6 pm). This should ideally be booked in advance to avoid disappointment and non-ideal visiting times.

As for pricing, it costs just $8 CAD for adults; $4 CAD for seniors, and anyone 17 and under rides for free – fantastic value for money if you ask me!

The Roam Public Bus:

Another reliable way to get to Moraine Lake from Banff is the Roam public bus, where you can take a direct bus from September until mid-October. You’ll want to take the #10 bus from the Banff High School Transit Hub directly to Moraine Lake.

The journey itself takes around an hour and 15 minutes, and costs $10 CAD each way for adults, or $5 CAD each way for 13-17 year-olds and seniors, while under 13s can ride for free.

Take a Sunrise Shuttle:

If you don’t mind being an early riser (and trust me, you’re definitely rewarded for it!), then this new sunrise shuttle has started running shuttles to Moraine Lake, where you can arrive in time to see the most amazing sunrise! The Parks Canada shuttle sadly starts running after sunrise, so you’ll want to grab a ticket for this if you want to be there for this epic event.

Tickets for a round-trip shuttle cost $35 CAD per adult and $25 CAD per child, starting at 4 am from Samson Mall.

Note: The prime time to visit Moraine Lake is between June and mid-October, as this is when the lake’s access road is open and tours/shuttles are operating. There is the option to hike or bike down the road outside the season, but it’s pretty risky and not something I would recommend.

The Best Hikes from Moraine Lake

1. Moraine Lakeshore

Canoes sit in the water at Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
So stunning!
  • Distance: 5.1 kilometers (3.2 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation gain: 275 meters (902 feet)
  • Time needed: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

As the name suggests, the Moraine Lakeshore trail is a wonderfully scenic route that meanders around the edge of the lake – perfect for taking the beauty of Moraine Lake in from up close. With the Valley of the Ten Peaks creating the picture-perfect background, you’ll definitely be reaching for your camera more than once!

This is an easily accessible hike that starts at the Moraine Lake parking lot and is one of the most popular trails on this list. It’s a good idea to get here either early on or late in the day when crowds are at their lowest.

All in all, the trail took around 2 hours for us to reach the end and back, but of course you can head exactly as far as you want, as the views are just amazing all the way to the end (particularly at sunrise)!

Note: If you’re looking for another fun activity to try out while you’re here, why not try renting out a canoe from the Moraine Lake Lodge? They each sit two to three people and cost $140 CAD for the hour.

2. Moraine Rockpile

Bailey and her mum pose for a photo at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake from the Rockpile Viewpoint!
Daniel proposes to Bailey at Moraine Lake
Daniel proposed at Moraine Lake at the Rockpile!
  • Distance: 0.8 kilometers (0.5 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 10 meters (32 feet)
  • Time needed: 10 minutes
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

The Moraine Rockpile hike is a suuuper short and simple trail from the parking lot that leads to some pretty stunning views! This trail is really well-maintained, is clearly signposted, and receives a lot of foot traffic, so just like the lakeshore trail, it’s a good idea to get here early in the morning if possible or towards the late afternoon.

Once you walk up a short set of stairs, you’ll be greeted with what can only be one of the best panoramas of Moraine Lake out there. Now this is where you’ll want your camera! Don’t forget to stop by the Lake Moraine Lodge for a drink or a snack afterwards.

This is actually my favorite spot to be at Moraine Lake for sunrise, where the golden light of a new day bounces off the turquoise water, so make sure you’re up here at the magical moment. Being here for sunrise is easily one of my favorite things to do at Moraine Lake!

Related Read: A visit to Moraine Lake can’t be missed if you’re traveling from Canmore to Lake Louise.

3. Consolation Lakes

A lady stands on a rock at Consolation Lakes in Banff National Park
Checking out the first lake on Consolation Lakes Trail.
  • Distance: 5.8 kilometers (3.6 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 65 meters (213 feet)
  • Time needed: 2 to 3 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

Looking to get away from the crowds for a little while? Let me introduce the Consolation Lakes trail, our very own secret spot that starts from the parking lot and heads out to wander through the lush forest. Before long, you’ll arrive at two spectacular lakes, so now you know where this trail gets its name from!

The path itself is pretty flat, with only 65 meters (213 feet) of elevation, so it’s straightforward for all fitness levels. To reach the second lake, there’s a little bit of rock scrambling involved, which can be slightly challenging but is entirely up to you whether you choose to do it or not. If you don’t fancy this, you can simply skip this part and take a moment to enjoy the beautiful views.

Although this hike isn’t too long (only around 2 to 3 hours depending on your pace), it’s a welcomed break from the crowds and a great spot to bring a picnic and some snacks too!

Related Read: Looking for more shorter trails? Check out our blog about the easiest hikes in Banff!

4. Lake Annette

view of mountains reflecting on Moraine Lake at sunset
Sunset is a beautiful time of day at Moraine Lake too!
  • Distance: 11.4 kilometers (7 miles)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 392 meters (1,286 feet)
  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake Road

Up for a bit more of a challenge? Well, the Lake Annette trail is just that – this moderately difficult trail stretches 11.4 kilometers (7 miles) and starts from Moraine Lake Road. If you’ve got around 4 hours on your hands, this scenic trail is an amazing choice. Plus, if you’ve got some extra time on your hands, you can extend your journey up to Paradise Valley (more on this later!).

The trail is well-signed and easy to navigate, with plenty of charming bridge-crossings and mountain views along the way. One of my favorite parts has to be the pass between Fairview and Saddleback Mountain, as well as the picturesque Paradise Creek just before you reach Lake Annette.

As for the lake itself, well, it’s a real gem in itself! With Mount Temple towering in the background, this is the perfect place to relax and take a well-deserved break. If you’ve brought lunch, this is the spot to chow down.

I also think this is a good choice for hiking families, even if the children are on the younger side. You can go at your own pace, and it’s a pretty gradual elevation along the way.

5. Paradise Valley

Giant steps waterfall in the Paradise Valley
Giant steps waterfall in the Paradise Valley
  • Distance: 20.4 kilometers (12.6 miles)
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 1,177 meters (3,861 feet)
  • Time needed: 7 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake Road

For the veteran hikers out there or for those looking to challenge themselves even further, you can extend your trip to Lake Annette on towards Paradise Valley, an extra 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) through larch forests towards a stunning valley that’s surrounded by mountains!

The entire journey takes about 7 hours in total, with plenty of points to stop and take a break along the way. When you reach the end, make sure to take a quick detour to the Giant Steps, where a beautiful series of cascading waterfalls offers panoramic views over the valley, reaching as far as the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

The Paradise Valley trail can be completed in one long day if you’re fit and energetic (with plenty of breaks). However, if you prefer going slower at your own pace, I’d suggest staying overnight at the Paradise Valley campground, where sites start at $45 CAD per night. If you do choose to complete the entire trek in one day, make sure to start early to give yourself plenty of time!

6. Larch Valley

A lady hiking on the Larch Valley Trail
Hiking in the Larch Valley in Fall!
Views on the Larch Valley Trail at sunrise during fall in Banff
Not a bad trail to walk!
  • Distance: 8.6 kilometers (5.3 miles)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation gain: 535 meters (1,755 feet)
  • Time needed: 3 to 4 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

Starting from Moraine Lake, the Larch Valley trail is an easy to moderate route that is full of interesting switchbacks, scenic forests, as well as the stunning Minnestimma Lakes – a picturesque spot which is perfect to sit and relax.

I found the most challenging part of this route to be the first kilometer or so through the forest, which has a pretty steep elevation gain, but it does even off to a more gradual climb after this. My tip is to keep a steady pace, and you’ll be through it in no time.

Once you’re through the forest, you’ll arrive at the Minnestimma Lakes, which were surprisingly quiet when I last walked the trail (which was around midday), but I might have just been lucky! The trail itself is is well-maintained and not overly technical, so even if you’re not so experienced with hiking you can still enjoy this route.

7. Sentinel Pass

view looking down from Sentinel Pass in Banff National Park
That view!
  • Distance: 11.1 kilometers (6.9 miles)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 799 meters (2,621 feet)
  • Time needed: 4 to 5 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

Just like the Lake Annette and Paradise Valley trails, Sentinel Pass is an extension of the Larch Valley hike, and is another of my favorites for a warm and sunny day. Once you’ve passed through Larch Valley, you’ll get to the final incline of the hike, which was definitely the most challenging part but is totally doable with a steady pace!

Near the top, depending on the time of year, you may find a few patches of snow (I still saw snow there in June!), but these are nothing to worry about as long as you have some decent hiking boots and keep an eye out for any super-slippery parts.

Once you reach the top, you’re rewarded with a gorgeous panoramic view of Sentinel Pass, definitely one of my all-time favorite viewpoints in Banff and the ultimate reward for this longer hike! Remember to bring plenty of water with you and snacks for the journey – I’m definitely glad I did.

Related Read: Looking for more trails? Check out the best hikes in Lake Louise while you’re in the area!

8. Eiffel Lake Trail

Eiffel Lake on a sunny day
The stunning Eiffel Lake!
  • Distance: 12.2 kilometers (7.6 mi)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 607 meters (1,991 feet)
  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

The Eiffel Lake trail is a gorgeous half-day route that winds up and around Moraine Lake, giving you glimpses and snapshots of the lake through the trees. Starting from the parking lot, the trail leads up through a forested section before opening up into a flatter path with those all-impressive views.

I had a great chat with another hiker along the trail, who had told me that it was actually her second time walking the trail, and the last time she was there she’d seen a grizzly! I kept my eyes peeled but didn’t happen to see one (they’re normally pretty elusive). Just make sure to bring your bear spray with you just in case (as with all trails in Banff National Park).

Another landmark to keep an eye out for is the Wenkchemna Glacier – it’s safe to say there’s a ton of epic sights throughout the entire trail. Plus you might even see some cute critters along the way, like the adorable marmots!

While Eiffel Lake itself might not be particularly special, the surrounding landscape is well-worth a photo or two. The lake itself is framed by the Wenkchemna Pass as well as some rocky debris that’s tumbled down from the Neptuak Mountain – talk about dramatic!

I’d personally recommend heading over to the far west end of the lake, where you’ll get the best view with the backdrop of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. New phone wallpaper anyone?

Related Read: Looking for somewhere to grab a bite to eat after the trail? Check out some of the best restaurants in Lake Louise Village.

9. Tower of Babel

Views from the Tower of Babel at Lake Moraine
It’s an epic view that’s hard to get to!
  • Distance: 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles)
  • Difficulty: Moderate (scramble)
  • Elevation gain: 518 meters (1,700 feet)
  • Time needed: 2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

We’ve covered a lot of the amazing trails on offer here at Moraine Lake, so here’s something a little different. The Tower of Babel technically isn’t a hiking path, but rather a scramble! Actually, it’s not even classified as an “official” trail by Parks Canada, and yet it’s grown to be one of the most popular scrambling routes in Banff National Park.

The trail leading to the top is steep from beginning to end, and I’d recommend sticking to the right-hand side of the trail as you head up, as the small rocks can be really slippery! As this is a scramble, it’s a good idea to bring a helmet to protect yourself from any falling stones.

But every tower must have a top, and once you reach the peak of this treat you’re in for a treat! I won’t spoil the surprise too much, but let’s just say the views of Banff National Park are nothing short of first-class.

Where to Stay in Banff and Lake Louise

With plenty of hikes to choose from, you’re going to want somewhere to rest your head after a tiring day! However, deciding where to stay in Banff National Park can be a little bit tricky as there’s so many options.

If you’re keen on exploring downtown Banff, then I’d definitely suggest booking a hotel there, and it’s only a 40 to 45-minute drive to Lake Louise (where you can then grab the shuttle).

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in exploring the lakes, then hotels in Lake Louise Village are worth considering, plus you don’t need to make the drive from Banff up to the lake (making that sunrise visit to Moraine Lake that much easier).

I’ve included some of my favorite hotels from both Banff and Lake Louise below:

Samesun Banff Hostel – $

If you’re traveling through Banff on a budget, then definitely consider staying at the Samesun Banff Hostel, which is our personal choice for a budget hostel right in downtown Banff! While there aren’t any private rooms available here, the dorm rooms are clean and the staff are super friendly.

Plus, they also have an on-site bar and kitchen, and breakfast is included in your rate too! A dorm here starts at around $60 CAD per night, but this can rise to around twice this during the high season. It’s a good idea to book your room in advance on or Hostelworld to secure your spot.

Banff Inn – $$

If you’re looking for your own private room while sticking to a budget, then have a look at the Banff Inn, which is the perfect mix of comfort and affordability. This hotel is also located right in the heart of town on Banff Ave and all of the rooms have air-conditioning too!

In the hotel there’s also a hot tub, steam room, sauna, as well as its own restaurant and bar too, perfect for relaxing after a day spent outdoors. With rooms as low as $199 CAD and rising to over $400 in peak season, this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff – it’s best to book the Banff Inn well in advance!

Lake Louise Inn – $$

Moving across to Lake Louise Village now, one of my favorite mid-range hotels has to be the Lake Louise Inn, which has its very own indoor pool, an on-site restaurant, and even apartments for larger groups. If you’re a big family that needs plenty of space, this hotel does a wonderful job of catering to your needs.

The hotel is also right in the heart of the village, so you’re only a 7-minute walk away from the Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle – talk about convenient! Rooms here at the Lake Louise Inn start at around $423 CAD in the peak season but dip as low as $170 CAD in the low season. You can book the Lake Louise Inn online here!

Fairmont Banff Springs – $$$

For the ultimate stay here in Banff National Park, no hotel is more luxurious than the Fairmont Banff Springs! Designed in the style of a Scottish Baronial castle, the Fairmont sits right on the doorstep of Lake Louise, with some of the most incredible lake views you could even imagine.

And that’s just the start of it. Inside the hotel, you’ll find no fewer than 6 on-site restaurants, as well as the most amazing afternoon tea, bowling, bars, a top-rated spa, and so much more! A stay here really makes for a one-of-a-kind experience that you’ll never forget.

Rooms here at the Fairmont start from between $600-700 CAD and can rise much higher in the high season. For the best rates, I recommend reserving your room early on

Important info: Once you know you’re coming, I suggest booking a place ASAP! Using is great too because lots of hotels offer free cancellation, so just lock in a place (or two) for now and make the final decision later!

Other Things to do While You’re in Banff

Scenic view out the window of the Banff Gondola
Scenic view out the window of the Banff Gondola

Hiking is one of my favorite things to do in Banff, but there’s so much more out there to try as well! Here are a handful of activities that I highly recommend you try out:

  • Take part in a wildlife tour – It’s no secret that Banff is home to some amazing wildlife, from elk to bears, deer to foxes, and more! While there’s a good chance you might spot something while out on a hike, the best chance you have of seeing them is on a wildlife tour in Banff. This small group tour was one of our favorites, where you can actually tailor the itinerary to the types of animals you want to see.
  • Explore Banff town – While it’s a ton of fun to escape the crowds and get stuck into the wilderness of Banff National Park, there’s also a lot to see in Banff itself too! Whether you fancy knocking down some pins at High Rollers Banff, or sipping a local craft brew at Banff Ave Brewing Co, it’s easy to spend a day or more just getting to know the town.
  • Ride the Banff Gondola – Not had your fill of epic sights yet? Well, you’ll want to check out the Banff Gondola, which climbs 698 meters (2,292 feet) to the top of Sulphur Mountain! There can be big queues during the peak season, which is why I recommend booking your tickets online to skip these.
  • Soak in the hot springs – Feeling a bit sore after a long hike? Nothing helps soothe those muscles more than a dip in the Banff Upper Hot Springs! I’d recommend getting there towards the end of the day when crowds are thinnest, which is around 9 pm (last entry is at 9:30 pm). Tickets for the hot spring cost $16.50 CAD and must be purchased in person at the springs.

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Thanks for Reading!

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo the the rockpile at Moraine Lake
Thanks for reading!

Moraine Lake is one of my all-time favorite places to visit in Canada – not only is it incredibly beautiful, but as we’ve seen, there are tons of fun trails to try out too! Whether you decide to try one or a few, I hope you have a wonderful time exploring the beautiful wilderness – who knows, you’ll might see some of the amazing animals of Banff National Park too!

Do let us know which trails you’re planning to try, and if you’re looking for other things to do nearby, I’ve included three more useful blogs below:

Guide to Planning the Most Romantic Honeymoon in Banff & Lake Louise

17 Things to KNOW About the Lake Louise Gondola

5 BEST Moraine Lake Tours