Moraine Lake is a glacially fed lake that is located in Banff National Park. It is situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, just a few minutes away from famous Lake Louise.
It’s just as beautiful as Lake Louise, but only visited by a fraction of the tourists. Even so, it can still get quite busy in the peak of summer. Your best bet is to visit the lake before noon, or later in the day. Like Lake Louise during certain times of the year it shows a distinct colour of blue. This is from light reflecting off the rock flour deposited by the glaciers.
How To Get There
To get to Moraine Lake from Lake Louise village follow the same road that takes you to Lake Louise (Lake Louise Drive) and watch for the Moraine Lake turn off on your left hand side. Follow the road for about 12km’s to the end where you will reach a large parking lot near the shore of the lake. The road to the lake offers some pretty nice views along the way.
If it happens to snow before they close the road for the season the lake looks very pretty. The lake is at such a high elevation and is not very deep so it doesn’t take long before it is frozen. Once the road has been closed for the winter the only way to get in would be to cross country ski along the 12 km access road.
Walks And Hikes
There are several walking and hiking trails around the lake. It is a well known grizzly bear territory. Some restrictions may be in place to have a group of six to hike in to the surrounding valley. Always check to see what the current bear activity is. Trails are closed occasionally due to grizzly bear activity.
One of the best ways to get a nice overview of the lake and the valley is to do the Rockpile trail. It is short and has little gain in elevation. Once on top you will get a fantastic view of the famous Valley of The Ten Peaks. It was the photo on the reverse side of a few older issues of Canadian twenty dollar bills.
Along the right bank of the lake you can take a walk that meanders along the shoreline and partially into the forest. You get a different perspective of the lake as you walk along the shoreline. At the back of the lake there is a small boardwalk that leads to a viewing area. A glacier runoff flows through the forest and into the lake creating some interesting scenery.
There is another short hike to Consolation Lakes, it is 3 kilometers long and only 90 meters in elevation change. Moraine Lake is an access point to several longer hikes in the area. Larch Valley is beautiful in the fall when the needles of the larch trees have turned a bright gold colour. Sentinal Pass is the highest elevation trail in Banff National Park. There is a trail that leads to Eiffel Lake as well.
Moraine Lake Lodge
At the edge of the lake sits Moraine Lake Lodge that is open from June to early October. The lodge offers a restaurant and a gift shop. To the right above the lodge you will see the ice and snow capped peak of Mount Temple. This is the 3rd highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies at a height of 3,549m /11,636 ft.
Guests of the lodge have free access to the colorful canoes sitting at the dock you’ll see on the lake shore. They are available for rent for visitors. This is a great way to explore parts of the lake that are inaccessible by trails.