Moraine Lake/ Valley of Ten Peaks, Banff National Park
As busy as Lake Louise already was, I was concerned about the crowds at Moraine Lake. Luckily, we still got here early enough (around 10:30), that the crowds were not too horrible. There was a fairly substantial line for those wanting to rent kayaks/canoes as we passed, and since we had skipped the walk around Louise, we definitely wanted to tackle this hike. The trail itself is nice, flat, and peaceful, with plenty of overlooks at the lake. It's a little less than a mile each way, ending at the feeder river from the mountains. Like Lake Louise, the color of the water is simply stunning. We did have to navigate a few mud puddles, but other than that, this was a spectacular trail to take. Highly recommended.
This one is a short, but steep trip up a (wait for it) pile of rocks. The trail starts over a stream, then heads up for a little under a quarter mile. There are markers that point out features of the environment and the history of the Ten Peaks. At the top, you are treated with a spectacular view of the lake that makes this a must-do trail. Unfortunately, the tour buses were also letting out here, so it got incredibly crowded. Just wait patiently, and eventually you will get your time to take in the magnificent view.
Moraine Lake is located near Lake Louise and definitely a lake you can't miss if you travel to the Canadian Rockies. Moraine Lake is set below the Valley of Ten Peaks and it rivals Lake Louise in beautiful and in fame. The scenery at this lake is spectacular, especially when viewed from the top of the Rockpile to the left of the parking lot. There is a trail that takes you to the top of the Rockpile, follow it to the top and be "awed" by the view! You can also walk along the trail following the lake or rent a canoe to see everything up close.
I still remember the first time I saw this beautiful lake. I saw many photos in brochures and online, but always thought the colours in the pictures were enhanced or something. But wow, I was stunned by the colour when I saw this gorgeous lake. The scenic mountains surrounding this lake make it a perfect scene. I even wondered if I could fit all of it in a picture. What a beautiful place this is!
Moraine Lake got its name because of the pile of rock which dammed the valley, creating this beautiful lake. First it was thought to be a terminal moraine (rock pushed along by a glacier), but now believed to be a landslide down the Tower of Babel peak to the south; or both.
There are several hiking trails from easy to difficult in this area...all are leaving from the Moraine Lake Lodge except for the Consolation Lakes trail which starts near the Rockpile:
*Moraine Lake Lakeshore trail: easy - 1.5km (1mi)one way - no elevation gain - about 45 minute round trip
*Consolation Lakes trail: easy - 2.9km (1.8mi) one way - elevation gain 65m (213ft) - about 2 hour round trip
*Eiffel Lake trail: moderate - 5.6km (3.5mi) one way - elevation gain 370m (1214ft) - 4.5 hour round trip
*Larch Valley / Minnestimma Lakes trail: moderate - 4.3km (2.7mi) one way- 535m (1755ft) elevation gain - 3.5 to 4 hour round trip
*Sentinel Pass trail: difficult - 5.8km (3.6mi) one way - elevation gain 725m (2378.5ft) - 4.5 to 5.5 hour round trip
*Wenkchemna Pass trail: difficult - 9.7km (6mi) one way - elevation gain 720m (2362ft) - 7.5 to 8 hours round trip
Of all lakes in the Canadian Rockies, few can match the beauty of this one. Backed by a wall of ten peaks, Moraine Lake is one of the biggest draws of the Canadian Rockies- so on any given summer day, there will be literally thousands of tourists overrunning this place. The Rock Pile Trail is a short loop that leads up a small rockslide to a viewpoint of the turquoise peanut-shaped lake. There's good hiking near the lake- an easy hike leads to Consolation Lakes, while a tougher yet incredibly beautiful hike switchbacks up the mountain on the north side of the lake to Larch Valley.
Moraine Lake is near Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The lake is glacially-fed and situated in the valley of The Ten Peaks. The lake is high up, 1,885 m above sea level, and it is only accessed from late spring to early autumn due to the snow. There are some scenic hiking trails for all fitness levels but it's best checking with Parks Canada first before embarking on one because of the bears activity. When I visited the area in July 2005 my travel colleague was unable to hike in the area because of this.
Moraine Lake was featured on the back of past Twenty Canadian Dollar Bills and hence known as the 'Twenty Dollar View' (Source: Wiki)!
Moraine Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Canadian Rockies, especially during the summer when you can see the amazing turquoise blue colour that is common in the Rocky Mountain lakes.
The road that goes to Moraine Lake is closed from early October until late May. Even after the road opens in late May, the lake usually does not develop its brilliant turquoise colour until about the middle of June.
You will get the best view of Moraine Lake from the top of the pile of rocks at the north end of the lake. It really is worth the few minutes it takes to walk up there. The easy path along the lakeshore is also a worthwhile walk.
The parking lot at the lake gets very busy from about 10 am to 4 pm in July and August. You can avoid parking hassles if you go outside of those times. Or there is also the Moraine Lake Shuttle Bus that leaves from the hostel in Lake Louise Village.
You can also rent canoes there for $35 an hour. If you happen to be staying at Moraine Lake Lodge, the canoes can be used free of charge.
Hiking in the Lake Moraine area is a bit more tricky than near Lake Louise due to a higher grizzly bear presence. This is seasonal depending generally on berries being around but the park reserves the right to close the area or install a group hiking mandate at any time. This basically means you can only hike in the area in groups of four or more since bears are less likely to bother large groups. The area around the lake is always open but hikes into the Larch, Consolation, and Paradise Valleys just above it can be thus restricted.
On our 2008 trip, there was a group hiking mandate in effect and to be honest, we did not have great weather so doing one of the hikes was not a priority. If the park was not set up in a pay-per-day format, we might have waited the weather out as we had done in countless US National Parks, but it did not seem worth the money to do so, especially with the summer rapidly disappearing before our eyes.
I did do the hike to Wenkchemna Pass on my first trip to the park in 1994. That year, I arrived in the park the day after a huge snow storm had hit the park. It was in incredibly clear day and the fresh dusting of snow on the Valley of the Ten Peaks was stunning. This hike is 9.7 kilometers one-way and gains 720 meters in elevation. You pass Eiffel Lake about half-way along the trail. I was knee deep in snow at some points!
For my money, Moraine Lake is even more beautiful than Lake Louise. It has even more incredible peaks that seem to go into infinity as its backdrop. It is aptly named the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Though smaller than Lake Louise at only a half square kilometer, it enjoys a similar blue green color due to it being glacier fed and full of a sediment known as rock flour.
A fairly flat well-maintained trail runs along its western shore and a very extensive network of trails begin at this trail head as well.
This is truly one of the absolute gems of Banff National Park. Another of Canada's iconic images that I had seen several times ( used to grace the Canadian $20 bill)while growing up but, have never visited until now. Moraine Lake and the ten surrounding peaks are surreal. No one place should be attributed this much raw beauty, it just doesn't seem fair! The lake itself is quite small but the water is a vibrant teal blue colour that must be seen to be believed! I took the opportunity to rent a canoe for the hour and eat my lunch out on the water. This was probably the highlite of my trip and thats saying a lot!I cannot give this place enough praise so if you ever find yourself remotely near this spot, it would be criminal not to pay it a visit.
I visited the waterfall by canoe however from the Moraine lake lodge there is a paved path along the shoreline that will take you to falls. The falls ere not able to be seen from my antage point on the water but trust me, they exist. The path would only take about 10-15 minutes to walk.
Okay, an odd title I know :) But upon my arrival to the lake, there were kids and adults crawling all over the rock pile at one end of the lake, close to the parking lot ... and these little furry critters .. chipmunks perhaps, or even ground squirrels, were up there begging from the peoples ...... cute, but sad to see these critters so dependent upon tourists .......
Otherwise, I'm glad I stopped here ... it's a bit off the beaten track,but not much .... plenty of people, but not so many that you can't appreciate your surroundings ..... the attached websight will give you some ideas of what sorts of hikes and walks you can take from here.
In the meantime - go, enjoy, and live ....... and don't feed the critters, okay?
Could not believe the sheer size & beauty of this place The Peaks were majectic outlined with snow & blue skies & that lake with its intense colour must be Moraine Lake - some early explorer named Moraine "The Gloomy One" he must have had a bad day - I had a fantastic day!
This is absolutely the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. What a colour and what a backdrop. The extremely blue colour is caused by sediment ("stone dust") that has been created by glacial activities in the past and is dropped on the bottom of the lake. As you know daylight is a combination of colours. The sediment absorbs all colours of daylight except for blue, which is reflected.
Combine this with the awesome backdrop of the Valley of Ten Peaks and this will definitely be a place that will stay in your memory forever.
Although you will most likely be surrounded by fellow tourists, this place is so fantastic that you will hardly notice them.
These mountains have been here for a long time, and the weather has had its effect on them! Here, one whole section of the mountains between those two peaks has given way at some distant time in the past. The result is a huge fan-shaped mass of broken rock that has slid down into Moraine Lake. It must have been hundreds of years ago because the forest has managed to take root in the barren landscape to begin its climb toward the higher elevations.
In the foreground is a couple enjoying one of the rental canoes that are available here. I recall the cost as being something like $15 for an hour. The air temperature was a bit nippy though, and it would feel even colder on bare hands once out on the open water!
Here at your feet is a beautiful crystal clear turquoise lake hemmed in by ten lofty mountain peaks.
It's little wonder that Moraine Lake rivals Lake Louise in its beauty and splendour, because one look from the Rockpile at the lake's edge and you're hooked forever!!
At the shoreline, in front of the parking lot, the Rockpile (yes! a gaint 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, above the lodge, is the icy peak of Mount Temple, the third highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.
Here is where you'll find some of the most enjoyable ways to spend your time in the mountains....renting a canoe from the boat dock and paddling around the lake; taking an easy stroll along the shoreline; or, my favourite activity...hiking to any number of wonderful destinations such as Consolations Lakes, Larch Valley, Sentinel Pass, and Eiffel Lake.