Moraine Lake is 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) southeast of the hamlet of Lake Louise. Glacier-fed, its brilliant blue-green colour is a result of light refracting off the “rock flour” (fine particles of rock) in the glacier run-off which flows into the lake. At an elevation of 1,885 metres (6,183 feet), the lake does not begin to melt until June. Water levels, and its vibrant colour, peak in late June.
There are several hikes around the lake ranging from accessible walks to more strenuous hikes. The Rockpile Trail is an easy and short path switchbacking along the back of the moraine to the top of the natural dam. The vista from the top is known as the “Twenty Dollar View”, as the scene featured on the back of Canadian twenty dollar bills issued between 1969 and 1979.
Venturing further afield offers solitude from the crowds and a different perspective of the lake and its craggy surrounds. Other trails to explore include Moraine Lake Lakeshore Trail, Eiffel Lake, Wenkchemna Pass, Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. In the fall the larches light up in rich shades of yellow, gold, and orange and paint a surreal backdrop for a hike.
During times of high grizzly bear activity there are hiking restrictions in place for many of the trails in the Moraine Lake area. Learn more from the Parks Canada website.
Canoes are available for rent from the Moraine Lake Boathouse or you can bring your own. It’s a memorably tranquil experience paddling through the crystal clear water, surrounded by towering peaks.
During the winter, cross-country skiers can take a 15-kilometre invigorating adventure to the end of the road and back. Parks Canada sets tracks for skiing which end at the viewpoint for the Consolation Valley and Ten Peaks. Access to the the lake itself is not permitted during the winter due to the high avalanche risk from November to late April.
Moraine Lake Lodge is the only accommodation located on the lake. It’s open from June to early September. Make the lodge home base and take short drives to explore nearby Lake Louise and Banff before returning to the remote beauty of Moraine Lake.
Getting to Moraine Lake
From Lake Louise Village, located just off the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1), drive uphill on Lake Louise Drive until you see the access road for Moraine Lake on your left. Follow the winding road for 11 kilometres to the parking area. The road to Moraine Lake and the parking lot can be very busy during the summer and in late September.
There is no public transportation to Moraine Lake.
The road to Moraine Lake is closed during the winter due to heavy snowfall and high avalanche risk. Depending on the conditions, the road opens sometime between the third week of May and the first week of June and closes in October after the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (the second Monday in October).