Trailhead: Park in the Moraine Lake parking lot located at Moraine Lake 12kms west of the Lake Louise town site. Banff National Park.
Description: Walk past Moraine Lake lodge towards the Larch Valley trail head sign marker. This is the start to Sentinel Pass, Larch Valley, Eiffel Lake, Wenkchemna Pass and Mount Temple.
Work your way up what seems like a never ending amount of switch backs. As you gain elevation the beautiful blue green color of Moraine Lake creates a stunning color contrast behind the surrounding forest. The trail continues upward until you reach the Eiffel Lake, Wenkchemna Pass and Larch Valley intersection.
Take the trail on your right towards Larch Valley, named after the groves of larch trees that can be found here. Unlike other coniferous trees larch trees shed their needles every winter. Their branches bend like rubber preventing breakage when buried under snow. In early spring these trees look dead and burnt but quickly green up again. Once you arrive at Larch Valley you can enjoy the stunning views towards the Valley of the Ten Peaks. This viewpoint may possibly be one of the finest vistas you can access in Banff National Park.
As you continue on, you’ll pass through groves of larch trees, tundra ponds and beautiful alpine meadows. At the base of Mount Temple and Mount Pinnacle there’s a beautifully colored tarn lake. This spot makes for a nice rest stop before continuing up to Sentinel Pass however save your lunch for an extended rest at the pass. Follow the switch backs up the scree slope to Sentinel Pass.
Several Hoary Marmots will whistle as you pass by. Their whistles always let you know if something has passed ahead or behind you. Views from Sentinel pass are well worth the effort. You can look down towards Paradise Valley and see the Sentinel Pass trail heading down through steep scree. The nearby fascinating rock pinnacles on your left are what give Pinnacle Mountain it’s name.
Mount Temples massif south face raises steeply from Sentinel Pass and it’s summit can be reached from here. Mount Temple is a major peak (3543m). This particular route is considered a very difficult scramble. Rock fall from hikers above has become a real issue. Helmet, mountaineering and route finding experience is an absolute must. Several people have lost their lives underestimating this scramble.
Allow 12 hours round trip for a Mount Temple summit attempt. Moraine Lake Road is not plowed during the winter months however it is an excellent cross country ski in. Photos below were taken in late June. Expect hordes of people here during the summer months. This Is Bear Country.