Sentinel Pass, Larch Valley Hike
5 to 6 hours / 12K return
Park in the Moraine Lake parking lot located at Moraine Lake 12kms west of
the Lake Louise town site. Banff National Park.
Walk past the Moraine Lake lodge towards the Larch Valley trail head sign marker. This is the
start to Sentinel Pass, Larch Valley, Eiffel Lake, Wenkchemna Pass and Mount
Temple. Work your way up what seems like a never ending
amount of switch backs. As you gain
elevation the beautiful blue green color of Moraine Lake creates a stunning
color contrast behind the surrounding forest. The trail continues upward until you
reach the Eiffel Lake, Wenkchemna Pass and Larch Valley intersection. Take
the trail on your right towards Larch Valley, named after the groves of
that can be found here.
Unlike other coniferous trees larch trees shed their needles every
winter. Their branches bend like
rubber preventing breakage when buried under snow. In early spring these trees look dead and burnt then green
up again. Once you arrive at Larch Valley you can enjoy the stunning views
of the Ten Peaks. This
viewpoint may possibly
be one of the finest vistas you can access in Banff National Park. As you
continue on, you'll pass through
groves of larch
trees, tundra ponds
and beautiful alpine meadows. At the
base of Mount Temple and Mount Pinnacle there is a beautifully colored tarn
lake. This spot makes for a nice rest stop before continuing up to Sentinel Pass
however save your lunch for an extended rest at the pass. Follow the switch
backs up the scree slope to Sentinel Pass.
will whistle as you pass by. Their whistles always let you know if something has
passed ahead or behind you. Views
from Sentinel pass are well worth the effort. As you can look down towards
continue downward through steep
scree. The nearby fascinating
rock pinnacles on your left are what give Pinnacle
Mountain it's name. Mount Temples
massif south face raises steeply
from Sentinel Pass and it's summit
can be reached from here.
Temple is a major peak (3543m). This
particular route is considered a
very difficult scramble. Rock fall
from hikers above has become a real issue. Helmet, mountaineering
and route finding experience is an
must. Several people have lost their
lives underestimating this scramble.
Allow 12 hours round trip for a Mount Temple summit attempt. Moraine Lake Road
is not plowed during the winter months however it is an excellent cross country ski in.
Photos below were taken in late June.
Expect hordes of people here during the summer months.
Local campgrounds include
Castle Mountain and
Plain of Six
Mount Fairview, Mount Temple,
Canyon are all
located near here.
You are in bear country.