Moraine Lake is another of the superstar sights in Banff National Park. It was truly gorgeous, especially in the snow; So I can see why so many thousands of people flock here each week! However, just like Lake Louise, you don’t have to go very far to have a little peace and quiet! The Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail is a pretty (and super easy) path along the edge of this bright blue lake.
There were other people wandering along this walk, but faaaar fewer than the number of people that just stop by to take a selfie from the first viewpoint! There are some other amaaazing sounding walking routes that start from Lake Moraine, so I am sure I’ll be back here in less chilly weather to hike a bit further!!
Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail Map
Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail – The basics
Elevation gain: minimal (30m if you climb up the Moraine Lake Rock Pile Trail as well)
Time: 45mins – 1hour
What to bring:
Bear spray (just in case, this is an area with lots of bears)
Microspikes were really useful on this snowy day, but you can manage without them.
The ten essentials
There are toilets by the car park. There is a cafe too, but it was closed when we visited on October 1st.
Yes, but keep them on a lead.
How hard is it?
Super easy. This is more of a stroll than a hike! Toddlers and grannies will totally be able to do it.
The hardest part of this hike is getting to the car park! We used the shuttle, which was free, and really easy. If you’d like to park your own car, arrive before dawn.
Shuttle buses to Moraine Lake
The car park fills up really early in the morning, so we opted to take the shuttle bus up to Moraine Lake. There are free shuttles that leave every 15 minutes during larch season (mid September to Mid October) from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. They start at the Lake Louise Overflow car park, just off Highway 1. Click here for more details. There is also a shuttle the whole way from Banff for $10.
Once you arrive at Moraine Lake, you’ll be greeted with this view…
Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail – The basics
We were so lucky with the weather! I mean, it was snowing when we arrived, and we couldn’t see any of the surrounding mountains. BUT once we started to wander along the Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail, the snow stopped and the clouds lifted slightly. We were treated to such mirror-perfect views.
Don’t you just love the way this alluvial fan (pile of rocks) looks like a giant diamond!?
Larches at Moraine Lake
It’s hard to see from my snowy photos, but there were more golden larches high up on the cliffs above the lake. They looked like a fringe decorating the top of the forest. There was 30cm of snow expected to fall in a single day when we arrived, so we could not explore the famous Larch Valley up to Sentinel Pass…we’ll just have to come back!
Stay by the shoreline
The Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail hugs the edge of the lake, so although the path is between the trees, there are plenty of moments when you can look out to the rest of the lake. The trail got quieter and quieter as we walked further.
End of Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail
After no time at all, you’ll reach the end of the trail. We visited on October 1st, and this side of the lake was already just starting to freeze over.
The views at the end of the trail are nice back towards the lake, but don’t forget to turn around! The views are also gorgeous looking up to the surrounding mountains! The photo below isn’t in black and white…but it almost looks like it is!
I also loved looking up at the peaks of the mountains with my zoom lens. The snow and ice really highlights their contours and rock formations.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it surprises me every time! The colour of glacial lakes change dramatically as you view them from different directions. I thought Moraine Lake looked even more beautiful on our return. Isn’t that colour simply stunning!?
This is looking back at the frozen part of the lake. *Swoons*
Moraine Lake Rock Pile Trail
Now, although that was a gorgeous little hike, we still had bundles of energy. So, even though the snow had started again, we climbed up the giant pile of rocks! If you head in the opposite direction to the lake, you’ll find the short, Moraine Lake Rock Pile Trail. This is only a few hundred meters, and the elevation gain is only about 30m, but it gives you a great view!
Don’t worry! You don’t climb up the actual boulders! There is an easy (if slippery) path with steps the whole way to the top.
We met this very cute golden-mantled ground squirrel at the top of the rock pile. I didn’t actually get this close, that was camera zoom again! Isn’t she a total sweetie.
Lake Moraine from the Rock Pile
So, these were our final views from the top of the rock pile. You can just about see to the other side of the lake, where we’d just walked.
So, if you have even just a teeny bit of time here, at least wander along the Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail. Even if you’re not normally a hiker, I promise, this is an easy one with amazing views to reward you for your effort.