Moraine Lake Hike (The Rockpile and Lakeshore Trail)
The Moraine Lake hike through Rockpile and Lakeshore trail in Lake Louise provides one of the best views of the Canadian Rockies and the stunning Moraine Lake. This hike is best enjoyed very early or in the evening due to large crowds and limited parking.
If you want to park at Moraine Lake, try to arrive before 6 am. To get there, take Lake Louise Drive from Lake Louise Village for 2 km, then turn left on Moraine Lake Road and follow for 12.2 km. Due to the lack of parking, most visitors choose to take public transportation.
|When to do|
May through October
Out and back
Moraine Lake Hike (The Rockpile and Lakeshore Trail)
Moraine Lake Hike Trail Description
The hardest part of the Moraine Lake hike is getting there. Parking at Moraine Lake is extremely limited, and the best bet is to aim to get to Moraine Lake before 6 am or after 8 pm for your best chance to snag a parking spot.
There are also paid shuttle options to Moraine Lake Parking lot. These are available from the Lake Louise Village and the Lake Louise Overflow Parking lot, which is where traffic will be redirected to once the Moraine Lake Parking Lot is full. There is nowhere to line up if access is blocked to Moraine Lake Road. You can also ride a bike to Moraine Lake, and it’s a beautiful ride.
We love this Moraine Lake hike, as it is a great route for families and those who aren’t experienced hikers. Experienced hikers should add this hike to their itinerary at Moraine Lake, and ensure they take in the view from the top of the Rockpile while doing other hikes in the area. The view from the top of the Rockpile overlooking Moraine Lake provides an iconic view of the Canadian Rockies – stunning and fit for a postcard.
To start this hike, hike through the parking lot to Moraine Lake. Before you get to the lake, head off to the left on a trail that goes behind the big rockpile. Some people choose to climb up the rocks up the Rockpile, however, the preferred (and safer way) of hiking up is a well-built trail that involves hiking behind the Rockpile.
The trail around the Rockpile is well-made, with steps for the steeper ascents. Once you’ve hiked to the top of the Rockpile, you can savor the scenery of the Valley of the Ten Peaks towering over the stunning Moraine Lake, one of the most iconic mountain views on earth. The hike continues in a circuit on the top of The Rockpile, which provides many viewpoints for great photos.
Follow the path back down from the Rockpile (it’s the same route you came up on) and then head towards Moraine Lake Lodge. You can stop here for a snack, however most follow the forested trail that goes along the right-hand shore of Moraine Lake.
While hiking along Moraine Lake, you’ll get a beautiful view of Mount Fay and the Fay Glacier as well as being able to look out at canoes enjoying a paddle on the lake.
Hike as far as you want around Moraine Lake. The end of the hike is a boardwalk, with more nice views. Enjoy this pleasant stroll along one of the most beautiful places on earth.
We like to do this hike after dinner during the summer, and find getting a parking spot between 8-9pm is usually not too difficult.
Hiking Trail Highlights
The glacier-fed Moraine Lake is one of the most stunning natural features in the Lake Louise area, with vivid turquoise waters perfectly offset by the surrounding mountains. It freezes over in winter, and usually does not thaw until June, when the rock silt created by the slow-moving glacier gives the water its characteristic turquoise glow. It’s so picturesque that the view from the top of the Rockpile is featured on the backs of Canadian $20 bills printed between 1969 and 1979!
The area around Lake Moraine is well known for outdoor activities, including hiking and backpacking in the summer, and cross-country skiing in the winter (although the risk of avalanche means that you can’t get all the way down to the lake itself between November and March). It’s possible to rent canoes and cross to the far side of the lake although bear in mind that swimming is not permitted! In autumn, the surrounding larch forests blaze with yellow, gold and red colors, as the leaves turn and the nights begin to draw in.
Valley of the Ten Peaks
Moraine Lake is located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, so named for the ten stunning peaks that crown the lake. The highest peak here is Deltaform Mountain, at 3424m, closely followed by the iconic Mount Fay, named after the early explorer and mountaineer Charles Fay. The jagged, snow-capped peaks make an incredibly beautiful sight, and the Valley of the Ten Peaks is a photographer’s dream.
Around the lakes and mountains, the valley is covered in thick larch forest, which turns red, yellow and gold in the fall season. It’s an ideal destination for hiking, backpacking and biking, in addition to wildlife watching.
You need to get here before 6am in summer to even have a chance at a parking stall. Otherwise plan to take a shuttle or taxi. If you need to drive, try going after 8pm.
This is a great place (though expensive) to rent a canoe. Rentals are on the lake, just past Moraine Lake Lodge.
Snacks and drinks are available at Moraine Lake Lodge.
Check out our YouTube video on this great family hike.
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