Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail – Banff National Park

Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail – Banff National Park

Moraine Lake Shoreline trail - DiamondMoraine 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

Distance: 3km 
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.
Extra Tips:
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.

Heading back

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.

Squirrel Time

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.

Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail - Lake view Moraine Lake Shoreline trail - Diamond Moraine Lake pretty blue view

Other easy hikes near Moraine Lake:

45 thoughts on “Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail – Banff National Park

    1. Yeah, it was the first day of October, so we were not expecting that much snow! My friend went a week later, and it was all sunny, and snowless again!

    1. I LOVED your photos! That is one of the reasons I wanted to do hikes at Moraine Lake and and Lake Louise!

      It was too dangerous for the epic hike I had planned, but I’m still glad we got to see it!

  1. Gorgeous. Absolutely breathtaking. I wouldn’t mind encountering a chipmunk but wouldn’t the bears have gone into hibernation by now? I’m sure in the summer they are abundant, but with that much snow I’m thinking it’s time for a nice long nap.

    Banff is on my bucket list of places to visit. Every photo I’ve seen is stunning.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. I love meeting chipmunks, squirrels and pikas!! This was the very first day of snow, so I don’t think they’d gone into hibernation yet…but it must be soon!

      Banff is amaaaaazing! I hope you can make it over here!

    1. Thanks Ruth!

      You know, all this snow meant the next day our walk was more about visiting historical sights near Banff. I have a feeling you’d like that too!!

    1. It seemed pretty unexpected according to the news! There was traffic mayhem and the weatherman called it “snowtober.” Still, it was pretty for us tourists that didn’t need to rush to work!!

    1. Thanks Caroline! I loved the way the lake looks surrounded by fluffy new snow!

      I guess we were lucky as normally the road closes when it snows that much…it was just the first day of snow in autumn!

    1. Glacial water is gorgeous isn’t it!? We didn’t actually visit any glacial lakes in the Alps! I think I would love those too though! You’re so lucky to live so close to those mountains!!

    1. Oooh I hope you can experience it soon! Snow is soooo fun on the first day! It can be a little annoying later, once it goes slushy!

  2. Wow looks so beautiful just lightly dusted with snow! Makes the water stand out even more. I can’t wait to visit this place some day – thanks for the guide!

    1. You’re very welcome Amy!!
      I’d seen so many photos of Moraine Lake in the sun so I have to admit, I didn’t expect it to look like this winter wonderland. I bet it’ll be gorgeous, whatever weather you get!

    1. It’s funny isn’t!? I expect that everyone will want to see all the views, but we always find quiet spots just a few minutes walk away!

  3. Glacial lakes really do have such an amazing color. I was convinced for a long time that all the photos I’d seen had been enhanced… Then I checked out the glacial lakes around Mount Cook in New Zealand and I was like “woah, they’re real!” Moraine Lake looks so amazing, I think the snow makes it even more beautiful. Have you been to the lake in other seasons yet? Or was this your first visit?

    1. Heh! It is really funny that you say that Savannah! I thought exactly the same thing! My first glacial lakes were also in Kiwiland (like lake Tekapo) I was blown away by the colours! They really do look fake!

      This was the first time we’ve visited the rockies…but I’m already making plans to go back!!

  4. So beautiful! I’ve only really seen photos of the lake in the summer but it’s a whole other world in the winter! Love the snowman! That’s the best way to leave your mark somewhere cold 😉

  5. Gorgeous pics! Banff is at the very top of my list of places to go. I am a trail runner, but love the idea of a stroll, rather than a hike on the Shoreline Trail.

    1. Oooh thank you Laurie, I’m chuffed that you like the look of it. There are so many paths that would be fantastic for trail running too, especially near lake Louise.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.