The Larch Valley Trail is a popular hiking adventure leading to views of the Valley of Ten Peaks, at an elevation of 2435 metres, in Banff National Park. The trail of mountains and meadows is especially popular in the autumn season when the fall colors of yellow and red decorate the valley and hiking trail.
Depending on the fitness levels and the size of the group the trail should take no longer than 4-5 hours to enjoy. However, from experience, you will want to plan for a full day hike so to spend more quality time in the meadows and, possibly, continue hiking to Sentinel Pass.
The Larch Valley Trail begins from the Moraine Lake/Larch Valley Trailhead entrance on Moraine Lake which is located just south of the Village of Lake Louise, Alberta.
The trail begins and ends as a dirt and earthy single-track pathway. There is very little time to relax on this adventure because soon after the trailhead entrance the switchbacks begin. It is a long and sometimes steep section of the trail consisting of almost 2 kilometres of climbing up switchbacks, one after the other. Very little level rest areas on this section of the trail.
At the junction of the Larch Valley Trail and the Eiffel Lake Trail there is some level ground and a resting bench. Good spot to refuel before the next section of switchbacks exploring a forest of Larch trees. This section of the trail includes many more exposed tree roots. Watch your footing.
At the top of the second set of switchbacks is a meadow, some level ground, a foot bridge and a creek. From here you explore a meadow of wildflowers and large boulders surrounded by snow capped mountains and glaciers.
Hard to give a length to this trail because once in the meadow, with Mount Temple to the north, you can walk for almost another kilometre. It is a slightly uphill trail through the meadow leading to the Minnestimma Lakes, Pinnacle Mountain and the headwall for the Sentinel Pass Trail. So why stop, when you can see much more of the valley without switchbacks?
The Larch Valley Trail begins from Moraine Lake which is also the location for other popular trails exploring the region like the Sentinel Pass, Eiffel Lake, Consolation Lakes, Minnestimma Lakes, Lakeshore and Wenkchemna Pass Trails.