Consolation Lakes – Moraine Lake hikes

Consolation Lakes – Moraine Lake hikes

Consolation Lakes in Banff - Hikes near Moraine Lake - Banff, CanadaThe trail to Consolation Lakes is the most family friendly of all the possible hikes near Moraine Lake. It is less than 3km in each direction, with very little elevation gain. Despite the ease of the walk, you’ll be rewarded with fabulous views of glacier covered mountains and a quiet valley. You might even be lucky enough to finish with a marmot photoshoot.

We did this as our third hike of the day (after walking to Sentinel Pass and Eiffel Lake). It was the perfect hike to finish our time in this incredible area of the Rockies.

Consolation Lakes trail map

Consolation Lakes trail – the basics

Distance:  5.8 km
Cumulative Elevation gain
: 255m
Highest Point: 1980m
Time: 2 hours
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials
Bear spray
Plenty of layers (the weather can change quickly here!)
There are loos at Moraine Lake, but none along the trail.
Dogs: Yes (on a leash)
How hard is it? Easy – this is not a tough walk so is a fab option if you want to go a little further to see the scenery near Moraine Lake.

Consolation Lakes trail – Getting Started

The hike to Consolation Lakes starts at the beautiful Moraine Lake, in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The trail starts near the base of the Rockpile that forms a dam, holding back Moraine Lake. Before you get started, it is always worth hiking to the top of the rockpile, to see the Ten Peaks and the crazy turquoise waters.

Extra tip: We hiked up the rockpile twice on the same day; Once at sunrise when it was completely heaving, then again in the afternoon when it was far more quiet and serene. If you only have energy to climb up once, save it for later in the day when the sun is up and there are fewer people.

Walk around the Tower of Babel

Once you have filled your eyes with Moraine Lake’s beauty, you can follow the trail around the Tower of Babel to start this walk. This tower is much smaller than the rest of Babel Mountain, but it looks spectacular from below.

The first small section crosses a boulder field. There is a pretty good path through it; But it must feel more like an epic adventure if you hike here with little ‘uns. You can look up to see some of the Ten Peaks – Mount Fay, (Mount Little is hiding from here), Mount Bowen, Mount Perren, Mount Allen and Mount Tuzo.

Look back at the impressive South Face of Mount Temple towering over everything.

Be bear aware

Please note, this area has plenty of grizzly bears. When we visited in August it was recommended to hike in groups of more than four hikers. Later in the summer, that becomes mandatory. You can receive a hefty fine ($5000) if you hike here in smaller groups, so check the notice board at the start of the hike and obey the law. If you need a larger group, you can wait by the sign until more hikers are heading in that direction.

As always, bring bear spray (just in case) and make plenty of noise as you hike to avoid sneaking up on bears!

Easy hike

The trail continues through the forest with Babel Creek crashing along next to the path. You get to play peek-a-boo with the surrounding peaks as they suddenly loom over the trail when there are gaps in the trees.

As you get closer to Consolation Lakes, the trees thin out a little; So you’ll be able to see the steep sides of Panorama Ridge.

How busy is the hike to Consolation Lakes?

I am not sure if it was just because we visited in the afternoon, but we only met a couple of other hikers, and we had the entire lake to ourselves (apart from a photogenic hoary marmot!) I don’t think you can count on it being this quiet though. This is one of the easier hikes in the Rockies, so normally there must be a few more happy hikers to share these lovely views.

Why are they called Consolation Lakes

We stopped at the first lake so you can’t quite see, but there are two lakes here. They were named by Walter Wilcox in 1899. At first, the Valley of the Ten Peaks was named “Desolation Valley,” so this area, in contrast became “Consolation Valley” with “Consolation Lakes”. Whatever the name is, this valley, beneath so many spectacular mountains and glaciers is completely worth the walk!

Glacier Views

I loved the views of the hanging glaciers on Bident Mountain and Quandra Mountain in the background.

While we sat admiring these views and munching apples, part of the glacier broke away from Quandra Mountain! Can you see the giant waterfall-like cascade of ice? It sounded like a massive crash of thunder as the echo of the ice-fall reverberated around the valley. Amazing!

Consolation Lakes shoreline

I should mention that this lake does not have a beach-like shoreline. There are piles of rocks that have fallen from Mount Babel, and a stream running through them. So, to reach the edge of the lake, you do need to scramble a little. If you fall from the rocks, you’ll end up soggy, but the water is not very deep.

Hoary Marmot photoshoot

I have shared quite a few photos of marmots in my recent posts, but we met the most relaxed floofy marmot-dude ever by Consolation Lakes! He stayed around for ages (even while I fumbled for my big lens) then posed to show off his smile, his tail as well as his fur blowing in the wind. I felt like I was taking photos for a marmot shampoo commercial! Isn’t he fabulous!?

Return to Moraine Lake

This is an out-and-back hike, so to get back to the car park, you just need to retrace your steps through the forest. Once you are back at Moraine Lake, I thought I should mention there is a great loo with a view. It was such a good view that I may have to update my loo with a view post to include it!

Consolation Lakes Panoramas

As always, I’ll finish with some panoramas so you can see how all these views fit together.

If you are already planning a trip to Moraine Lake, do consider this hike to Consolation Lakes as well. It’ll allow you to escape the crowds and see a bit more of this amazing Canadian scenery, without too much effort. Or, if you are already planning one of the bigger epic hikes in the area – this is a fab mini add-on! It only takes a couple of hours, so you can easily tack it onto the end of another hike in the area.

Consolation Lakes - Easy Hike near Moraine Lake - Banff, Canada Consolation Lakes - Hikes near Moraine Lake in Banff, Canada Consolation Lakes in Banff - Hikes near Moraine Lake - Banff, Canada

56 thoughts on “Consolation Lakes – Moraine Lake hikes

  1. Thanks for writing these up right now because I’m suuuper missing travel and have been wanting to go to Moraine Lake for eons. It’s nice to get to live vicariously through your posts and photos til then though! <3 I love all the blues + greens and that's awesome that it wasn't crowded! That marmot looks sooo, so floofy! :]

    1. Yaaay I am s glad you are enjoying them – sorry it is taking me so long to write them all up!

      I am really glad that I am not the only one who appreciates a floofy marmot!

  2. Delightful Josy. I need to repost my Canadian tour posts sometime. One of the nicest pictures of me and Mrs L have Morraine as the backdrop… that blue-turquoise matches my skin tone perfectly

  3. Dear Josy,, why is your marmot Hoary? That usually means rimed with frost. Also,, if this was a walk that had to be done with others due to bears, why are you and Marc not with others? Love, Lis

    1. It’s just the name of those marmots – I guess it makes sense as these areas get so snowy in winter. They must be frost-loving marmots.

      The time of year when we hiked here it was recommended to hike with more people, but you don’t have to. We were just really loud to make up for it. Don’t worry, we were so loud we didn’t meet any bears.

  4. I cannot wait to get out to Lake Moraine! My friend lives less than 2 hours from here so when I visit (from Ontario) this is definitely on my must-do list! We have pretty hiking trails here too but nothing like this. That blue water is astounding!!!

    1. Yaaaay! Yeah I think I saw you mention that you might visit to see your friend. You are going to have sooo much fun when you do!

  5. Lovely hike but to me the name consolation doesn’t fit. I know there are several definitions but I keep thinking of a “consolation prize”–a secondary, less nice prize if you don’t win big. Haha, clearly I’m overthinking things on this dreary day. Beautiful photos and this hike definitely looks like a winner.

    1. YES! That was my first thought too, Like if you don’t have enough energy to make it up to Sentinel Pass, this is the consolation hike.

      (Although it sounds like Wilcox as a place to console you, so he didn’t intend it to be a consolation prize.)

      I don’t think Desolation Lake suits Moraine Lake either. Maybe he was running out of romantic-sounding names!?

    1. Yeah that was sooo loud! I guess that must happen more often if you visit in the springtime when the snow starts to melt!

  6. How have I not done Consolation Lakes before?! It’s right up my alley! Have you done the Tower of Babel hike before? I can’t wait for summer now to be able to do more trails from Moraine Lake!

    1. No! I didn’t even know it was possible until we did this walk (then we saw someone jogging down from there so I looked up the route!) You must get a fantastic view from Moraine Lake from the top of that tower!?

  7. I’ve never heard of a mandatory group size for hiking. I guess it really is bear country if they want you to be that safe. Although I was in the Rockies for a week and never saw a bear. I started to question if they exist. But always have my bear spray now. This looks like a beautiful hike

    1. Yeah I’d never heard of it either before we visiting this area. It was only recommended in the early summer, but later in the year the signs change and you *have* to wait for more people. It was the same for some of the trails in the Kootenays (if you ever want to hike there)

      We didn’t see any bears on this trip either – but we have seen quite a few beeeautiful huge black bears and a few grizzly bears on previous trips.

  8. All of these hikes look and sound amazing. I really want to go back to Banff and do these hikes. All of your photos are so stunning. 🙂

  9. The glacial lakes have got to be one of the most stunning natural features on the planet! I saw a few in New Zealand and couldn’t believe they were real. I would love to do some of the treks in the Rockies to see more.

    It’s fascinating that you are required to hike in groups of at least 4 people in grizzly country! Good way to make friends I guess, while avoiding bears.

    And that marmot Zoolander is adorable :)!

    1. Lol this is the best comment Margarita – he was totally a marmot zoolander!!

      Yeah, we did join another hiker for one of our walks in this area. I’m happy to join other groups if it keeps us, and the bears safe.

  10. Me, reading this post before dawn while everyone’s asleep: I want to do a marmot photo shoot!

    I may have said that a little too loud and woke up the significant other. Whoops. At least now he knows? Anyway, I’m intrigued by the idea of bear spray and a little scared that you have to hike with at least three others in the summer but that aside, Moraine Lake is just stunning!

    1. Hahaha Oops! Hopefully if you visit this area a marmot (or pika or ground squirrel) will pose for you too!

      If you ever just visit Moraine Lake, you don’t have to worry about bears as it is sooo busy! It’s just once you head off onto the quieter trails away from the lake that you need to be loud/ have bear spray, I think it is pretty cool that they just require hikers ti be in larger groups- rather than just closing all the trails during berry season.

  11. Wow this place looks perfect to hike! The lake is simply stunning – its blue tone is beautiful. Also how cute are the marmots?! 😍

  12. Awesome post! These views are practically too beautiful – the photos are unreal! I can’t imagine how beautiful it must be to be there 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    1. OMG Katie that is such a perfect honeymoon! Do you have posts about it? I’d love to see them.

      We ended up hiking in the Dolomites for our honeymoon. Starting off married life with hikes is the best isn’t it!?

  13. Wow…again you’ve found an amazing hiking place. The views on this trail are breathtaking! (I’m thinking Moraine Lake) Would be too scared to see bears but love to see the little marmots.

    1. Thanks lovely! Moraine Lake really is a jewel isn’t it!?

      I know what you mean about bears, but if they are far away they are really exciting to see too!

  14. During these COVID times, it’s so interesting to think of having to wait around for a couple more people to join your group so you can be grizzly bear safe! It definitely looks like a very rewarding hike in a pretty short distance.

    1. It’s not too bad, as you can hike together, but a couple of meters apart. (although you’re right, I guess the rules were made up before the pandemic!!)

  15. The name is so… sad! I was curious to know the history behind the name because it sounds like you should only visit after you’ve had a hard time – and then you gave us a little bit of history! It’s like you read out minds 😀 (Then I went and read the comments and see I wasn’t the only one with the weird name association, lol.)

    I also had no idea there were areas where hiking in larger groups was mandatory. That info is extremely helpful – I guess I’ve never been somewhere where bears were prominent.

    That glacier breaking must’ve been so marvelous. It sounds like it was – and I am so jealous!! And words can’t express how amazing that marmot is!

    1. Yeees it’s always amazing seeing glaciers fall in a cloud of ice. We have seen it a few times (loooads in NZ) but I never had my camera in my hand while it was happening before!)

      I am really glad it’s not just me that was confused my the name. We didn’t know the history while we were hiking, so we both thought it seemed too nice to be a consolation lake! I guess the scenery fits “consoling,” but not “consolation”!

  16. I NEED to go back to Moraine Lake so that I can actually do some of the hikes! When I was there, it was just for sunrise, and we ran away from the crowds as soon as that was over. This looks like a hike I could take my parents on without killing them! Just gorgeous.

    1. Yaaaay for more hiking with parents! I always love those posts of yours! I think as your parents are used to you taking them on tougher hikes, they could easily do this *and* the Eiffel Lake trail on the same day. The hiking paths are so well build near Moraine Lake that they are both easy/intermediate. 🙂

  17. This looks like a great hike that’s not too difficult, definitely my kind of hike! always dreamt of visiting Moraine Lake too so definitely using this in future!

    1. Yeah, Canada did well to make such large areas into National parks to protect them *and* allow people to explore and enjoy them.

      Thanks for reading/commenting Nathan!

  18. Is that what a marmot looks like up close? I’ve seen them before but they were always scurrying across the trail too fast to really see! Looks like a lovely hike, Josy 🙂

  19. Your section about the grizzly bears terrifies me! Have you ever read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson? He has a fantastic section on his fear of bears and how he prepared for his long hike through the Appalachian Trail. Sharks and bears are just terrifying for me!

    1. They are pretty scary until you realize that you’re not very likely to see them. If you go in a larger group and make noise they will stay away from you.

  20. I need to revisit those lakes as your photos make it look far more appealing than I remember! We’ve been there once on a dull day (likewise, it wasn’t busy) and I don’t remember even seeing the mountain tops. How cool to see the ice fall like that!

    1. Interesting! I guess if you can’t see the mountains, it wouldn’t look as impressive as the shoreline isn’t particularly amazing. It’s the mountain views that make this one special. (Oh, and photo shoots with marmots!!)

      p.s. I’m sorry! I totally missed this comment in December! oops!

  21. I love lakes between mountains. Every lake is such picturesque so I just cannot stop taking photos of them. 🙂 I really like your summary section at the beginning, it is so simple but so practical !

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