The Sentinel Pass hike offers the opportunity to spend a few hours with some of Canada’s most awesome natural wonders in Lake Louise. Start at the beautiful Moraine Lake and then head up through native larches to an Alpine Pass with astounding views – a truly unforgettable experience.
If you want to park at Moraine Lake, your best bet is to get there before 6am. To get there, take Lake Louise Drive from Lake Louise Village for 2.0km, then turn left on Moraine Lake Road and follow for 12.2km. Most people end up taking the public transportation.
|When to do|
June through October
Out and back
Parking at Moraine Lake is extremely limited, and the best bet is to aim to get to Moraine Lake before 6am if you want to park.
There are 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.
From the Moraine Lake parking lot walk towards the lake and lodge. Continue with the lake on your left-hand side and follow the trail markers for a few hundred meters until you see another sign indicating the start of the Sentinel Pass trail on the right-hand side. This is a prime bear habitat, thus at certain times of the year Parks Canada will insist on hiking in groups to limit bear encounters. Those without large enough groups will often wait by the sign for the next group and opt to hike together to meet the minimum size requirements.
The trail immediately starts to climb through the forest, with a steady and demanding grade. This is a well-maintained route, however it is not recommended to take a child carrier up due to rocks and tree roots. As you continue on the path, enjoy small previews of the turquoise waters of Lake Moraine as well as glimpses of the Ten Peaks through the trees. Soon there is the option to turn off for Eiffel Lake. Continue right here to Sentinel Pass. You will notice immediately that the route levels off and larch trees become predominant. Finally, you will come to a small stream with a log bridge, after which we recommend taking a quick break. The rest of the trek after the bridge will be tiring, but filled with amazing and varying views.
As you approach the tree line, the pass is straight ahead. Once emerging from the trees, you will be in an exquisite meadow with three beautiful lakes. The largest of which, the first you encounter, can keep ice well into summer. Looking ahead and to the right, there is a path cut across a mountain with a few switchbacks up to the pass. Here there is steep climbing, and also the potential for lingering snow patches. Many will turn back if they don’t have hiking boots or polls, though there are well defined “boot packs” through the snow.
Upon reaching the pass, enjoy a view down into Paradise valley. There are small rock outcroppings on either side of the pass, which give extended views, though be careful, as the drops off of these rocks are significant and dangerous. From here you can also see experienced scramblers taking the path towards the right up Mount Temple. Please be aware that this route has exposure and significant rock fall. Do not attempt without a helmet and experience with scrambling.
The real treat of the hike is coming down from Sentinel Pass. The view of the Valley of Ten Peaks continues to expand and develop. Pause again in the alpine meadow before the pleasant jaunt back to the lake. The long uphill trek is a pleasant experience going down, and soon you are back at the wonderful Moraine Lake.
At times during the year the hike requires groups of a minimum of 4-6 people. When this is the case, simply wait at the trailhead that flares off from Moraine Lake. Other hikers will let you join their group.
Get there early to enjoy a coffee in tranquility from the onsite cafe at Moraine Lake Lodge before the tourists arrive.
Start after 4pm and have the pass to yourself. Take a picnic and enjoy dinner in the meadow below the pass.
On calm days, you may get a beautiful reflection of the Ten Peaks on one of the lakes. Get close to see if you are lucky enough!
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