You may recognize the view of Moraine Lake from the back of the Canadian 20 dollar bill distributed in 1969 and 1979. Moraine Lake is located in Banff National Park near the village of Lake Louise. Moraine Lake is arguably the most beautiful lake view in the entire national park. I’ve walked the main trail around the lake several times over many decades but I’ve never had the opportunity to hike any of the trails off the beaten path.
Bears at Moraine Lake
This visit I planned to try to hike one of the trails, but it wasn’t to be. The trailhead had a sign posted warning us it was unlawful to hike with fewer than 4 people due to bear activity; there were only three of us.
About Moraine Lake
The lake itself is a beautiful colour from the glacier that feeds it. You can see the glacier dipping down toward the lake and makes for a beautiful backdrop from the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The lake and store are located at an elevation of 6183 feet in the valley.
What is Moraine?
A gigantic pile of rock – moraine – is situated at the parking lot end of the lake beside the canoe rental dock. Moraine is the rocks and sediment carried by a glacier and then left after the glacier retreated. My adventurer son, kicked off his flip-flops and climbed the mountainous rubble in bare feet to get a better view of the lake.
At the opposite end of the lake you’ll find a glacial river weaving it’s way around spindly pine trees with shallow roots to empty into the signature blue-green of a glacier fed lake.
I returned to Banff in the summer of 2022. Despite numerous attempts, we were unable to get into Moraine Lake again. There is now 24-hour security, and only a limited number of cars are permitted to gain access each day. If you are visiting in high season, we recommend checking out the shuttle services. You’ll need to book it in advance.