Let me tell you about a moderate hike to Eiffel Lake, that will provide some of the most impressive views in the Canadian Rockies. The trail starts at Moraine Lake, so the views are spectacular before you even set off. Along the way, you get close-up views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and their impressive glaciers. The hike finishes in the middle of the mountains with a bunch of fuzzy pikas, ground squirrels and marmots to keep you company.
It looked like there were quite a lot of larches along the Valley of the Ten Peaks, so if you want to see the golden trees in autumn, I think this would be a great option to see them with smaller crowds than Larch Valley.
Eiffel Lake trail map
Eiffel Lake trail – the basics
Cumulative Elevation gain: 601m
Highest Point: 2300m
Time: 3-4 hours
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials
Plenty of layers and waterproofs.
There are loos at Moraine Lake, but none along the trail
Dogs: Yes (on a leash)
How hard is it? Moderate – The steepest section is the first half an hour, after that it feels pretty flat and fun.
Eiffel Lake trail – Getting Started
This is another one of the fabulous hikes near Moraine Lake. So I am afraid if you want to park here you will need to wake up super early; Before 6am. We combined this walk with our hike up to Sentinel Pass. If you are happy to attempt two hikes on the same day, this is a great way to make the most of an early start.
In normal non-covid-19 years you can take a shuttle up to Moraine Lake if the car park is full. This walk isn’t very long or hard, so it’s a good option if you don’t want to wake up before dawn.
Eiffel Lake trail
As I mentioned in my previous post about the hike to Larch Valley, the trail is easy to find. Turn right just after the Moraine Lake Lodge and follow the switchbacks up the mountain. The beginning of the hike is the hardest part. Once you have made it past the first 2.5km, the rest of the way is a gradual, easy slope. Just make sure to take the first turning (left) after the switchbacks.
Valley of the Ten Peak views
Once you are on the trail to Eiffel Lake, you’ll walk through pretty forest. At first you’ll be able to look back at the crazy-blue Moraine Lake.
Once the lake is no longer visible, you’ll still be able to peek at the peaks through the trees.
The Ten Peaks
The names of the peaks (from East to West) are:
Mount Babel (this isn’t one of the official ten), Mount Fay, Mount Little (which is hiding behind Mount Bowen in the photos below), Mount Bowen…
Tonsa Peak, Mount Perren (in the middle), Mount Allen (the small spike)…
Mount Tuzo, Deltaform Mountain, Neptuak Mountain and Wenkchemna Peak (part of Mount Hungabee – not shown in these photos. as it’s a little further around)
The Ten Peaks earlier names:
These impressive, glacier-covered mountains were named by Samuel Allen, an early explorer here. At first he referred to each peak by using the numerals from one to ten in the Stoney Nakoda First Nation’s Language:
(1) Heejee (2) Num (3) Yamnee (4) Tonsa (5) Sapta (6) Shappee (7) Shagowa (8) Shakhnowa (9) Neptuak and (10) Wenkchemna
Over the years most of the mountains were renamed, so now only three of them, Tonsa, Neptuak and Wenkchemna, kept their nineteenth century names. It makes me wonder how the Stoney Nakoda people referred to these mountains before any settlers arrived.
As you get close to Eiffel Lake, the trees start to thin out and the ground becomes more rocky and barren. We did find a few small patches of snow (in August) so you might need micro spikes if you attempt this earlier in the summertime. After mid-August you’ll be able to do this easily in hiking boots.
The views may be less green, and the clouds rushed in to provide a moody backdrop for the Ten Peaks. But I still think these views are incredible.
First views of Wenkchemna Peak and Eiffel Lake
We came around the corner to see fabulous (if moody) views of Wenkchemna Peak and Eiffel Lake. Wenkchemna Peak is just the first peak of the even bigger Mount Hungabee. From this area in the Valley of the Ten peaks, it looks enormous, imposing and impossible to climb.
Spectacular Glacier Views
The ten peaks themselves are impressive, but we also really loved seeing the myriad of glaciers. This trail allows you to see the giant cracks where whole shelves of ice are beginning to give way. There were some that looked like rock glaciers (where rock debris frozen in interstitial ice or where a normal glacier is covered by talus.) I also love seeing the glaciers that seem to consist of a long line of mini ice-shelves, that look like massive frozen waterfalls.
Views from Eiffel Lake
There is a cliff just above the lakes where you can sit, eat and take in these stunning views. Next time we visit, I would like to hike a little further to Wenkchemna Pass (between Wenkchemna Peak and Neptuak Mountain.) You can see the pass in the photos below.
On this occasion, we had already hiked to Sentinel Pass, (and we had plans to keep going to Consolation Lakes.) So we stopped here.
Critters near Eiffel Lake
You might think with all those bare rocks that there wouldn’t be many animals around. However we got to see soooo many floofy bottoms on this walk! We met a friendly marmot, who ran right up to us, then turned and legged it up the mountain. There were also quite a few pikas and ground squirrels (they look a bit like chipmunks.) We could hear pikas meeping the whole way along the trail so there must be quite a few nearby.
Please leave no trace
The ground squirrels near Eiffel Lake were really sweet and keen to come and say hello. However we also saw some reeeally chubby fellas close to Moraine Lake. You can tell that some tourists don’t know (or don’t care!?) that you should not feed wildlife. Some people left peelings, which counts, as we saw the critters munching those too.
In some countries it is okay to feed animals (we feed birds in the UK, and most tourists feed deer when they visit Nara, Japan) However in Canada you should not feed any wildlife. This is especially true in areas like this where grizzly bears roam. You definitely should not leave your litter, pips or fruit peel behind!
Heading back to Moraine Lake
The hike back to the car park at Moraine Lake is even easier than on the way to Eiffel Lake. It’s a gentle down hill slope the entire way. You can relax, take in the gorgeous views and watch out for more wildlife.
Panoramas on the trail to Eiffel Lake
I’ll finish this with a bunch of panoramas. I attempted to label one of the photos of the valley of the Ten Peaks, so you can learn the names if you fancy.
The hike to Eiffel Lake through the Valley of the Ten Peaks is pretty amazing; Especially when you consider how easy it is. Hundreds of people visit Moraine Lake every day, so it is also pretty cool to find such a quiet route that will get you even more impressive views of those famous Ten Peaks. If you ever visit this area in the Autumn, this walk would be even more impressive as you’d get to see some of those larch trees turn golden.