High above the famous crystal-clear blue waters of Moraine Lake lives the renowned Larch Valley that gives way to awe-inspiring views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Sentinel Pass and famous Mt. Temple. Once a year as the alpine begins its transition to Fall these golden larch trees turn their signature bright golden hue. The golden needles are only in season for a short period of time. However, this is truly the time of year when the alpine is at the height of its beauty and making the trek is a Canadian Rockies experience you won’t want to miss.
This moderate hiking adventure is 4.3 km long and has an elevation gain of 535 meters (about 1755.25 ft). We will begin on the shoreline of Moraine Lake and gradually gain elevation until we reach Larch Valley about 1.5-2hrs up. From here we will spend time taking in the views and learning about the history of the valley from one of our experienced and certified guides. We will then descend to the Moraine Lake shoreline before returning to your destination.
We can either meet you at our office in Canmore or will pick you up at your hotel in Banff, or you can meet us in Lake Louise at the ski resort parking lot. Our hotel pickups will be between 7:45am-8:30am depending on where you are located. If meeting our guides in Lake Louise, we will depart the parking lot at 9:30am. We will aim to start our trek from Moraine Lake at 10:30am.
The trail begins at the Moraine Lake parking lot, leading us through a forested area with switchbacks as we ascend to the stunning Larch Valley. Along the way, we’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Moraine Lake and the surrounding mountains. The glacial-fed Moraine Lake is famous for its mesmerizing turquoise-blue waters. After about an hour and a half to two hours of walking, we’ll arrive at Larch Valley just in time for lunch, which is provided by our in-house backcountry cook and included in the price. After lunch, we’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and take pictures of this beautiful valley. The snow-capped mountains and golden-yellow larches combine to create one of the most picturesque hiking experiences in the world. The sight of golden larches against the backdrop of the rugged mountains creates a truly picturesque scene, making this hike a favorite among nature enthusiasts and photographers.
At roughly 2pm we will begin our descent back to the shoreline of Moraine Lake where we will bring you back to your original destination.
Meeting Place and Time
For this trip you have three options for meeting our guides.
Option 1 – Meet our guides at 7am at our office in Canmore AB. Our office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for the location.
Option 2 – We can pick you up at your hotel in Banff on the route to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. We will need to know the location and name of your accommodation prior to trip departure.
Option 3 – We can meet you at the Lake Louise Ski resort parking lot at 9:30am. Meet outside between the Whiskey Jack Lodge and the Lodge of the Ten Peaks. Please ensure that you have your hiking equipment with you.
At the end of the program, we will drop you off at your original destination between 3:30pm and 5:30pm pending where your departure begins.
Guides and Group Size
Yamnuska Mountain Adventure guides are certified through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. Our professional guides have extensive experience in the Canadian Rockies. Guides also have advanced wilderness first aid training and heritage interpretation accreditation. Guides carry emergency equipment including a first aid kit, bear spray, and radio.
There will be a maximum of 1 guide for 12 clients with a minimum of 5 clients.
Yamnuska is licensed to operate in Banff National Park.
Getting to Lake Louise and Transportation
Canmore is situated 100km (65miles) west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. Calgary International Airport is well connected to major cities throughout North America and Europe. Once in Canmore, we will supply all the transport needed for the trip.
There are shuttle options between Canmore and Banff to the Lake Louise Ski resort that run several times daily. For more information, please contact our office, and we would be happy to assist you.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore. Banff Airporter is the best way to get between Calgary Airport and Canmore/Banff. When you book with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures you will receive a 15% discount on Banff Airporter Scheduled Services.
Please note that this tour takes place in Banff National Park. For those guests meeting us in Canmore, we include the park entry. Guests who are being picked up in Banff or Lake Louise are required to purchase their own pass.
National Park passes are available both online at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/admission and in-person at National park gates and some information centres.
Accommodations & Meals
Accommodation in Canmore is not included. A variety of accommodation options exist in both Canmore and Banff, including campsites, hostels, all levels of hotels as well as condo-style accommodation with kitchens or suites. We recommend that you book your own pre- and post-trip accommodation well in advance as all levels of accommodation in the Bow Valley fill quickly.
We supply a healthy bagged lunch prepared by our backcountry chef. This would typically be a sandwich, fresh fruit and vegetables and a couple of snacks.
For guests with dietary restrictions, we can modify the program food pack to meet your individual needs. As food pricing and preparation for these diets is more costly, there is a surcharge. Our kitchen staff will assess your restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged.
Please let us know the details by filling out a Food Questionnaire when you sign up for the program.
When walking in the mountains, it is important to be able to adjust to the changing conditions. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered to achieve comfort as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest.
We recommend bringing:
- Sunhat – Wide brim or baseball style
- Jacket – A midweight synthetic jacket
- Waterproof / Breathable Rain Jacket
- Hiking Pants – Preferably windproof and quick drying. Blue jeans and cotton pants are not recommended.
- Footwear – A comfortable pair of shoes that are broken in and have a rubber sole are best suited for this program. Avoid sandals, flip-flops, crocs, and open toed footwear.
- Water Bottle – Anything from a half liter to one liter is appropriate.
- Snacks – A few snacks are encouraged as there is nowhere to purchase food or drinks on this program. Lunch is included.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. Full payment is due at the time of booking.
We understand that sometimes plans may change, or unavoidable situations arise, that necessitate having to cancel or change a trip plan. However, please understand that once your trip is booked, we reserve your space and assign staff and resources to ensure your trip runs smoothly. These costs are not recoverable at the last minute.
Should you need to cancel your trip, the following cancellation policy applies:
Reservations are fully refundable, or changeable, up to 48 hours prior to trip departure. Within the final 48 hours, any changes or cancellations, or no-shows on the trip date, are non-refundable.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the trip. Click here for a waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travellers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the National and provincial Parks, however, costs such as air or ground transportation, long-term care, and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries, and other unplanned events. For these eventualities, Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical, and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure trip.
Participants must be 13+ to partake in this program.
Includes: All guiding fees, transportation, backcountry bagged lunch.
Not included: Personal gear, accommodation, gratuities for guide, Goods & Services Tax (GST).
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Please note you will be required to sign the Yamnuska Release of Liability, and Waiver of Claims prior to commencing the program. Please review the sample waiver prior to booking and call us with any questions.
Is it for you?
This trip is rated easy to moderate. Backpack weights are considered light for this trip. You will be required to carry your own lunch, water and extra layers to make it through the day. Please read our Traveling Light & Making Backpacking More Fun for information and suggestions for clothing and equipment.
Prior hiking experience is not a prerequisite but is recommended. Participants must be in good physical condition and able to carry a light backpack for the duration of the hike (see itinerary for distance and elevation gain).
The trails are generally good. We will hike at a regular and steady pace that conserves energy, but you must be in as good as possible hiking shape before you come. We cannot emphasize enough that training pays great dividends in enjoyment. We will stay as a group while hiking.