Hiking The Valley of Ten Peaks: Eiffel Lake Trail
Hiking The Valley of Ten Peaks: Eiffel Lake Trail | Written by Brian Callender | Photography by Julie Boyd
Eiffel Lake is a hidden gem in the Moraine Lake region of Banff National Park. This is a popular trail leads to an alpine lake with gorgeous views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks along the way.
A moderate hike, you can expect most of the elevation gain during the first half of the hike before being rewarded for your efforts with views of the incredible Eiffel Lake.
Eiffel Lake Trail: Hike Details
Starting Elevation: 5,860 ft.
Distance: 7.67 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,345 ft.
Hike Type: Out and back, day-hike
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Permit: None required for day hiking
Date Hiked: July 24, 2019
Getting to the Trailhead
The hike to Eiffel Lake begins on the eastern shoreline of Moraine Lake as part of the Larch Valley trail. Moraine Lake is a popular destination within Banff National Park, and is 20 minutes from the Lake Louise Visitor Center, and an hour north of Banff.
From the town of Banff, take the Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1 W) for 55 kilometers (35 miles) and take the Bow Valley Parkway exit, following signs to Lake Louise. Continue to Moraine Lake Road, which you will then drive for 15 kilometers (9 miles) to Moraine Lake.
Because Moraine Lake is a highly popular destination, it’s important to get as early a start as possible. The road leading to Moraine Lake is closed periodically due to the parking lot being full. If the lot, is full in the morning, consider arriving later in the day after the first wave of visitors has left. On our trip we heard from others that the lot fills up by 6:30 a.m. with those who arrive early to capture sunrise. On this trip we arrived later in the morning, around 8:30 a.m., and were able to find parking.
Once you arrive at Moraine Lake, park in the main lot and walk towards Moraine Lake Lodge where you will pick up the Larch Valley Trail.
Hiking The Valley of Ten Peaks to Eiffel Lake
Starting on the Larch Valley Trail, the hike to Eiffel Lake begins to climb from the moment your boots hit the dirt. It’s a steady incline through a lush forest as you switchback your way up. During our visit, the weather was not on our side as a light, but steady rainfall kept us wet throughout our hike. Julie and I remarked several times that we should have done the hike one day earlier when the sun was out and temperatures were around 80 degrees. The mountains can be funny like that; great weather one day and crummy weather the next.
Around the two mile mark, we reached the junction for Eiffel Lake and Larch Valley/Sentinel Pass. If the weather had been better, we would have loved to also hike Sentinel Pass, but we’ll save that for another trip. At this point, we had taken several breaks as we contemplated whether or not it would be worthwhile to continue hiking. We figured at the very least, we would get to the junction and then decide from there, based on how much we were getting rained on. Once there, we had a snack and chatted with some other hikers who were intent on going up to Sentinel Pass, but were hoping for an improvement in the weather. Ultimately, after a short break, we decided to push on and get as close as we could to Eiffel Lake.
The nice part about the second half of the hike to Eiffel Lake is that it is almost entirely flat. You do about 1,000 feet of gain in the first couple of miles, and very little the rest of the way. This makes the hike much more manageable, particularly since we were getting consistently rained on throughout. As we continued along the trail, the wildflowers were out in full force and helped brighten our spirits up a bit. We caught some nice views of the end of a bright, turquoise-blue Moraine Lake as we got further along the trail.
Eventually, as we neared Eiffel Lake, the trees began to fade away and it almost felt like we had stepped onto another planet. We were greeted by a sparse, rocky landscape and rain clouds hugging the peaks that sat just above Eiffel Lake. Unlike Moraine Lake, which is famous for being a brighter blue, Eiffel Lake is a dark blue that almost felt like the color of the ocean. Nestled at the base of snowy mountains, the lake was a welcome sight after spending the past couple of hours getting rained on. We stopped to snap a few photos and enjoy the solitude of being the only ones at the lake before we were ready to turn and head back. While Eiffel Lake is beautiful, there is no clear trail that leads to its lake shore, and we were certainly not of the mindset to try and climb down any slippery rocks in the rain.
The return hike was an easy one, as we quickly retraced our steps, anxious to get back to the car. We took a few breaks for photos, but as the rain was never really nice enough to let up for us, there wasn’t much to shoot. At the junction, we saw some of the same hikers we had chatted with on the way up, and they were deciding to call it a day and head to Sentinel Pass in the morning. We wished them well and made our way back down the Larch Valley trail.
Eiffel Lake was a nice day-trip, hindered only by the late-July rain. We definitely recommend the hike if you’re looking to explore a little more of the Moraine Lake area!