Explore the Larch Valley in Banff National Park

Larch Valley

To celebrate the fall season, I thought I would talk about one of Banff National Park’s bucket list hikes: the Larch Valley. This hike is sure to inspire fall vibes. So grab your jacket, PSL, and hit the trail.

Disclaimer: The Larch Valley hike is very busy, although I on a weekend. It was cold, it was raining, and slightly snowing. 

Trail completed: September 16, 2016

Where Are The Larch Trees?

Larch trees are located throughout Banff National Park. The most popular hike that you can do to see them is the Larch Valley Hike. There are other trails you can do, although I have not personally hiked them. Jody Robbins: Travel with Baggage blog describes the hike at Sunshine Meadows as being less busy, and has amazing views.

When Should You Go?

This varies year to year. You are looking at sometime in September, however based on weather the timing can either be early September, or later. Do what I do, and check out the recent photos on Instagram to see how much the trees have changed.

Larch Valley Trail Start
Larch Valley Trail

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Starting the Larch Valley Hike

The Larch Valley trailhead is located at Moraine Lake, past the lodge. We arrived at Moraine Lake around 9 AM and the lot was full, so we parked behind numerous other cars on the side of the road. 

Disclaimer: From reading other peoples experiences it seems that once the Moraine Lake parking lot is full, park staff may close the road leading to the area, and instead send you to the Lake Louise lot. From there you can take a shuttle up to Moraine Lake. If you want a guaranteed spot, without having to take a shuttle, you should aim to be at Moraine Lake at 5 AM.

I don’t remember exactly how long it was to get to the Larch Valley view point, but it had to be between 1-2 hours. Once you arrive in the clearing you are greeted to stunning views of the Larch trees.

Views of the Larch Valley

Larch Valley Banff

Sentinel Pass

Since you are already on the trail, you should really continue on to the top of Sentinel Pass. It takes about an hour from the Larch Valley to the top of the pass. At the top you will be greeted to stunning views of the valley below.

Sentinel Pass Start
On the way to Sentinel Pass
Sentinel Pass
At the top of the pass
Sentinel Pass Top

As you can see the weather wasn’t cooperating, but I still had a great time. Or it could be that its been so long, and I don’t remember how cold it really was. LOL.

If you happen to be in Banff in the fall don't forget to experience the Larch valley!

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