Lake Annette via Paradise Valley – Banff

Lake Annette via Paradise Valley – Banff

Lake Annette is one of those fantastic gems that are both easy to reach and incredibly beautiful. It is located in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, in the middle of two of the most famous lakes; Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. However, unlike it’s famous lake-y cousins when we visited Lake Annette there was no-one else there. If you like the idea of a fun walk that will take you up to fantastic views next to a stunning blue lake, try this!

To be fair, every walk we have tried near Lake Louise has been great fun – so you will have a blast no matter where you visit. Just make sure you bring some walking boots as this area is even better when you walk beyond the most obvious viewpoints and car parks.

Lake Annette via Paradise Valley Map

We actually combined this walk with a hike up Fairview Mountain. But if you want the easy version, you can start from the trailhead on Moraine Lake Road.

Lake Annette – the basics

Distance: 11.3 km (or 17km from Lake Louise)
Cumulative Elevation gain
: 377m
Highest Point: 1990m
Time: 3-4 hours
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials
Bear spray
There are loos at Lake Louise if you come from that direction.
Dogs:Β Yes (on a leash)
How hard is it? Easy – we saw lots of kids on this trail.

Lake Annette – Getting Started

The easiest path to Lake Annette starts at a trailhead on Moraine Lake Road (the first turning on the right as you drive towards Moraine Lake.)

Alternatively, there are two possible routes from Lake Louise. One stays low following an equestrian route, or you can take the higher path via the saddle between Fairview Mountain and Saddleback Mountain. The photo below is Temple Mountain from just above Paradise Valley you’ll see this if you take the high route.

Paradise Valley

The best thing about this walk is the beautiful Paradise Valley trail. You get to walk along Paradise Creek, in the shadow of impressive peaks and gorgeous old trees. We visited on a particularly beautiful day, when the water was sparkling under a fluffy-cloud filled sky. The name of the valley seems perfectly appropriate.

There are bridges that allow you to cross Paradise Creek multiple times. This means you’ll be able to see the peaks on both sides of the valley. The cliffs in the photo below are of Saddleback Mountain.

This is Sheol Mountain from within Paradise Valley. It has some pretty impressive cliffs from this direction.

Gorgeous trees

Even when you cannot see the peaks, the forest in Paradise Valley is incredible. Most trees in Banff National Park are evergreen; Lodgepole pine, engelmann spruce or subalpine fir. I am afraid I do not know much which is which – they all seemed to tower above us.

Paradise Valley Views

Every so often there are breaks in the trees when you can look up to Sheol Mountain or Saddleback Mountain. That easy looking rocky patch behind Saddleback Mountain is Fairview Mountain (we climbed this one the way to Lake Annette.)

Or, if you look in the other direction, you can see the distant peaks on the opposite side of the Bow Valley, beyond the Bow River.

As you walk towards to Lake Annette, the North Face of Mount Temple starts to loom up above the trail. The lake is right at the base of this giant.

As you get closer, the path gets a little steeper. Still it is always easy to follow, and it never gets super steep.

Lake Annette – the perfect lunch spot

This is one of my favorite lunch spots in the Canadian Rockies. There were a couple of other hikers who were just leaving as we arrived, so somehow we managed to have this incredible area all to ourselves while we munched on bagels.

Long walks are like an extra delicious sauce, they make food taste even better!

Just look at the beautiful blue water, relax for a while and enjoy the peace and quiet. I did go for a paddle, but the water was sooooo cold; I couldn’t keep my toes in Lake Annette for long.

Mount Temple’s North Face

It’s hard to show off just how great the views are by Lake Annette. The main problem is that Mount Temple is so massive that it’s not actually possible to fit it into photos. The North Face will completely fill your eyes, so it’s too much for anything but the widest of lenses!

Once we’d eaten, we followed the pretty path back through Paradise Valley. You can keep going further into the valley if you have a camping permit, or if you plan to hike to Moraine Lake via Sentinel Pass and Larch valley.

If you fancy an easy-ish hike that includes spectacular scenery, I can’t think of many better options than Lake Annette. This walk is definitely easy enough for children, just be aware it is in an area with plenty of grizzly bears, so make sure your kids hike close by, rather than running off alone in the distance!Β  If you walk in a group, and make plenty of noise, it is very unlikely that the bears will allow you to see them.

If you would like to save this hike for later, please just click on the pins below.

60 thoughts on “Lake Annette via Paradise Valley – Banff

  1. I went to Lake Louise when I was younger, but I don’t think we visited Lake Annette! I love gems that no one else visits, so I’ll definitely have to go here when I go back.

    1. I think we might have just been really lucky. My hiking guidebook says this is normally a busy-ish trail(!) Although it must always be far less busy than Lake Louise and Moraine Lake (as you have to walk a bit to reach it!)

  2. I LOVE this trail! I did it a few years ago when I last visited Banff. I would love to come back and do it in the summer though. When I last did it it was late fall so the weather was pretty chilly and cloudy. Thank you for this inspo, I owe Alberta another trip soon!

    1. Oooh had the larches started to turn golden? I saw photos from one of my twitter friends and this area looked stunning in the fall! Let me know if you have a post about it – I’d love to see the difference.

  3. Lake Annette looks awesome Josy, what amazing photos. Just love Banff National Park, not sure there is anywhere as beautiful in the world. Really really need to get back once the world is open once again.

    1. Yeees I hope you can come back Jonno. I had a look at some of your Banff posts – it looks like you both had a fantastic time!

    1. Banff is fabulous all year around – I LOVE Banff in spring (for the snow and epic waterfalls) and in summer for the best hikes. It’s great in Autumn, but you might not be able to do all the hikes you fancy, depending on the weather.

      This trail would not be safe in the winter (for avalanche safety) but Lake Louise is beeeautiful covered in ice.

      Having said that, I think I enjoyed the summertime the most. I love the epic hikes as the wildflowers.

  4. This walk looks out of this world!! The lake is so stunning and the colour – just wow! Though the thought of bears any moment terrifies me a little haha. Great pictures and post x

    1. Thank you! Don’t worry, you hardly ever actually see the bears. If you hike in a group of 4+ you wouldn’t have any issues. If you *do* see one far off, it’s pretty exciting!

    1. Thanks Krista! I hope you can pop back over the next few weeks. I still have looads of amazing hikes to write about in this region.

  5. This article made me want to go for a hike and visit those beautiful mountains landscapes in the US! I really like that this place is less crowded than the other lakes around as we enjoy remote places more than super crowded spots. I can’t wait for the COVID crisis to be over and travel & explore again πŸ™‚

    1. No worries. Oops – I should add it’s in Canada near the top! I totally agree with you though. I don’t mind sharing pretty places, but once they get super crowded, I’ll be looking for somewhere less famous.

  6. This is the type of hike that will give you your workout for the day, but agin looking at the views, it’s probably worth it. I can imagine how beautiful the surrounding around the lake would be in winter, covered in snow!

    1. It must be amaaazing under a blanket of snow. I don’t think I’d feel very safe in winter though. Paradise valley seemed like a bit of a death trap once avalanches start…

  7. The colour of that water! Absolutely stunning. The views throughout look incredible, well worth the effort. Thanks for sharing all the details of the recommendation!

  8. Such blue water! I love a good bridge, that part made me excited haha. I wonder why. Maybe because bridges make it feel like you’ve reached some sort of milestone in the hike? I don’t know, but this one kind of reminds me of crossing the Soca River bridges in Slovenia with the blue water

    1. Yes! I know what you mean. Plus it helps you tick off where you are on a map once you know how many bridges you have crossed.

      You still have me dreaming about Slovenia after your post. I already told Marc we have to follow in your footsteps.

  9. I’m so looking forward to when we can travel freely again. I now have another Canadian hike and lake to add to my list!

    1. That route is even better! If you have enough energy, you can hike up Fairview Mountain on the same day. That is what we did and it was one of the best days I’ve had in the Rockies.

  10. Love the hike! I can’t wait to get out to do the 17km option – but I’ll wait until the snow’s gone πŸ™‚

  11. Josy, those are wonderful photos and it seems to be a great hike… grizzly bear country. We had our first snowflakes here yesterday. What would you say is the best time to hike there?

    1. Thank Rudy. Come in summer or autumn for this one. I think it would be too dangerous in winter/spring.

      If you wait at the trailhead for other hikers, you don’t have to worry too much about grizzlies. One of the rangers told me that they always avoid humans in larger groups.

      p.s. Oooh you have snow already!? We have a bit on the mountain here, but it’s still autumn in Vancouver.

  12. I’m dying to get to Lake Louise (maybe when the borders reopen, eh?) so I definitely appreciate this hike recommendation. Your photos are absolutely stunning and this seems like just the right length hike.

    1. It’s fantastic for something easy with great views! If you’re coming to Lake Louise, have a look at the Plain of the Six Glaciers and the Lake Agnes hikes too. They both take you up to pretty tea houses in the mountains.

      If you go to Lake Moraine as well, try the walk to Eiffel Lake. It’s also easy-ish but will blow your socks off with the impressive mountain vistas. I’ll write about that one soon.)

  13. That looks stunning and you were brave to get into the glacial lake. I love your essentials list – but bear spray – it’s just something that wouldn’t occur to me.

    1. OMG that water was sooo cold Sarah! I know what you mean about bear spray. I’m from the UK originally, so it was a totally alien concept to me when we first started hiking in Canada!

  14. Wow beautiful. Sounds like the perfect length for a hike of this kind too. I can’t believe this isn’t more popular but I guess there’s lots of competition in that region. I need to go there.

    1. I was surprised by that too. I guess it must be popular sometimes (as I have read that it gets busy) It’s just strange that it was so quiet when we visited. Especially as this was at the weekend…

  15. After traveling in Acadia National Park in Maine (USA) I feel like I want to do more and more of that kind of trips. This area of Lake Annette looks so beautiful and I would love to do that hike. The color of the lake is amazing!

    1. Thank you! Yeah, your photos of Acadia National Park made me want to visit there too – it’s a very different landscape isn’t it!?

    1. I know right!? We were really surprised by how quiet it was away from the most famous trails (I mean, i think this is one of the famous-ish options!)

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