Trailhead: Park in the Moraine Lake parking lot located at Moraine Lake 12kms west of the Lake Louise town site. Banff National Park. Moraine Lake Road is not plowed during the winter months however it is an excellent cross country ski in. Expect hordes of people here during the summer months.
Description: Walk past the 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 straight on towards Eiffel Lake and Wenkchemna Pass.
Eiffel Lake is a shorter moderate day hike 5.8km one way. To help avoid Grizzly bear encounters Parks Canada has a mandatory “Hiking in groups of 4 or more required”. If you’re not in a group of 4 you can hook up with the hordes of people found on the switch backs. The further you go the crowds thin out. Views of the “Valley of the 10 peaks” are absolutely stunning and well worth the effort. Possibly the most scenic hike in this area.
Once you arrive at Eiffel Lake you can turn back or keep going towards Wenkchemna pass. Keep on the well worn trail past Eiffel Lake towards the large meadows below the pass then work your way up the headwall to Wenkchemna Pass. Once you reach the top of the pass you’ll find yourself standing on the continental divide looking West towards British Columbia. Keep an eye out for Grizzly’s in this area. On our hike we we’re passed by a Grizzly while eating our lunch at the top of the pass. See Grizzly pictures below.
Wenkchemna Pass is a narrow saddle with little room for a passing bear. We did not see the bear earlier on in the meadows and couldn’t see the bear while approaching below. The Grizzly walked right by us within a few meters with no issues. Seems he was set on crossing the pass and didn’t mind our company. It was somewhat of a “Hey There” experience, both ways. I’ll never forget it and could not imagine the Rocky Mountains without these majestic animals. This Is Bear Country.