8 Larch Tree Hikes in Banff National Park

8 Larch Tree Hikes in Banff National Park

8 Larch Hikes in Banff National Park : 

Every fall the Larch Valley Hike at Moraine Lake is hugely popular with tourists and locals alike.  Its almost become an annual pre-winter event for many.  In this year of celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, the number of larch pilgrims has only increased. Hikers are waiting as much as 2 hours to catch a shuttle bus just to reach the trail head. 

Fortunately, Banff National Park is big and beautiful. There are many fantastic locations that allow you to hike among peaks, lakes and the larch filled alpine meadows.  Below are 8 alternative hikes to help you avoid the fall crowds at Moraine Lake’s Larch Valley. 

Please keep in mind that larches tend to grow at higher altitudes and that hikes to reach these altitudes can be demanding.  Please know your limits and prepare ahead.  The Rockies are as unpredictable as they are beautiful. 

1. Lake Agnes

  • Duration: Day hike (3 hours)
  • Elevation: 385 m
  • Distance: 3.4 km on way
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Perfect for anyone staying in the Lake Louse area, the Lake Agnes hike basically starts from the Lake Louise parking area. Follow signs to the well maintained trail head and let it take you to the Tea House.  Larch trees surround the shores of Lake Agnes. 

2. Arnica Lake

  • Duration: Day hike (5 hours)
  • Elevation: 580 m
  • Distance: 5.1 km one way
  • Difficulty: Difficult 

Start this hike at the Vista Lake viewpoint on Highway 93 South, which is 8 km south of Castle Junction.  The Arnica Lake lake passes through varied terrain, including both younger post-fire forest and old growth forest before reaching a alpine lake surrounded by larches. 

3. Saddleback

  • Duration:  Day hike (4 hours)
  • Elevation: 595 m 
  • Distance: 1.7 km one way
  • Difficulty: Difficult 

Another Lake Louise hike, the Saddleback trail head is located by the Lake Louise boathouse.  In addition to the larches at the higher elevations you will have some world beating views of Paradise Valley and Mount Temple.  

4. Taylor Lake

  • Duration: Day hike (5 hours)
  • Elevation: 585 m
  • Distance: 6.3 km one way
  • Difficulty: Difficult 

The trailhead is located at the Taylor Creek day-use area,which is 8 km west of Castle Junction along the Trans-Canada Highway. The Taylor Lake hike takes you through thick evergreen forests to 
meadows and a beautiful glacial lake. 

5. Boulder Pass

  • Duration: Day hike (7 hours)
  • Elevation: 640 m
  • Distance: 8.6 km on way
  • Difficulty: Difficult 

The trailhead is located at the Fish Creek parking area, off Whitehorn Road, just 3 km north of Lake Louise town-site.  The Boulder Pass hike provides amazing views into a an unfrequented area of Banff National Park. 

6. Bourgeau Lake 

  • Duration: Day hike (6 hours)
  • Elevation: 725 m
  • Distance: 7.2 km one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The trailhead is located on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway, 13 km west of the Mt. Norquay exit close to the Banff townsite.  Hike through thick forests until reaching beautiful Bourgeau Lake with Mt. Bourgeau providing the drama. 

7. Healy Pass

  • Duration: Day hike (7 hours)
  • Elevation: 655 m
  • Distance: 9.0 km one way
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The trailhead is located at the Sunshine Village parking lot. Starting at the far end of the parking lot you follow Healy Creek  towards the continental divide. Once again, expect amazing views, alpine meadows and numerous larch trees. 

8. Rockbound Lake

  • Duration: Day hike (7 hours)
  • Elevation: 760 m
  • Distance: 8.4 km to Rockbound Lake
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The trailhead is located at the Rockbound Lake parking lot, which is 200 metres east of Castle Junction on the Bow Valley Parkway.  A long, hike through the woods takes you around Castle Mountain’s front  a couple of of beautiful lakes, including Tower Lake and Rockbound Lake.

And if your looking for other landscape photography opportunities while in Banff then check out my blog post on top landscape opportunities in the Canadian Rockies for the Non-hiker!  

Don’t forget your camera! 

2 thoughts on “8 Larch Tree Hikes in Banff National Park

  1. This is a great list! Just wanted to mention that I did Taylor Lake two weeks ago and it’s provably one of the easiest hikes Ive ever done in Banff! Super gentle gradient the entire way and not too long at all! Not sure the “difficult” rating you’ve given it is fair! Honestly anyone can do it and just thought I’d mention it for the sake of accuracy and so people don’t get put off! Otherwise an awesome list that is far more interesting than any other I’ve seen! Thanks for sharing! Shoot me and email if you’d like to use some photos for a few of these hikes, I have loads I’d be happy to share to illustrate those awesome Larches!

    1. Hey thanks. Maybe I was having a tough day on our Taylor Lake hike with the family along. Usually I am on my own and focused on photography. I will note your suggestion in the article. Also, checked out your site and wow…. Awesome site. Anyone who lands here should definitely link over there an check out some of the amazing writing / photography!

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