Hiking to Moraine & Consolation Lakes | Banff National Park
Written by Brian Callender | Photography by Julie Boyd
Have you ever visited a place so magical that it captures your heart and makes you want return over and over again?
For Julie and I, one such place is Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. We first had the opportunity to explore Moraine Lake in 2016 and were instantly captivated by its striking beauty.
Hiking to Moraine & Consolation Lakes: Hike Details
Starting Elevation: 6,183 ft.
Distance: 3.69 miles
Elevation Gain: 627 ft.
Hike Type: Out and back, day-hike
Difficulty Level: Easy (some rock scrambling is required to access the Consolation Lake shoreline)
Date Hiked: June 11, 2018
Moraine Lake sits at an elevation of 6,183 feet and is an 8.7 mile drive from the Lake Louise Visitor Center. Because the lake lies at the end of a mountain road it feels far more secluded than its neighbor, Lake Louise. The stunning blue water of Moraine Lake against the imposing background of the Valley of the Ten Peaks makes Moraine Lake a destination we want to spend endless hours enjoying.
Once we had planned our return trip to Banff, it was an easy decision to head back to Moraine Lake. This time, we also planned to add a hike to Consolation Lakes to explore a bit more of the area. On a chilly June morning, we left our guesthouse in Field and made the forty-minute drive to Moraine Lake.
Exploring Moraine Lake
In August of 2016, our first trip to Canada, we had ideal conditions throughout our stay. When we stopped at Moraine Lake to explore a place we had seen countless times in social media, we were blown away by the mountains reflecting in the still water and the wonderful shades of blue. By comparison, our second visit to Moraine Lake was nothing like the first and provided us with a completely different perspective.
Driving north on Moraine Lake Road the weather went from cloudy to light snow as we approached the parking area for the lake. The trees surrounding the road were dusted in a soft white snow, which continued to fall lightly as we drove. Despite the poor weather, the parking lot lot looked like we were visiting on a sunny day, as there was no shortage of cars. Throwing on our jackets, we grabbed our gear and headed for the lakeshore.
A short trail that can be accessed just to the left of the parking lot, will take you up above the rock pile for stunning views of the lake. It always amazes us though, to see how many people are trying to climb along the rocks, rather than following the clearly marked trail. From the top of the rock pile you will find the classic Moraine Lake scene among the Valley of the Ten Peaks. After spending some time admiring the beautiful lake, we were ready for our next adventure, a short hike to Consolation Lakes.
Hiking to Consolation Lakes
The trail to Consolation Lakes starts at the beginning of the Moraine Lake Rock Pile Trail and heads left. With a light, dry snow falling overhead, we hit the trail and headed on the 1.67 mile (2.7 kilometer) one-way trek to Consolation Lakes.
We had seen the trail on our first visit, but decided not to do it in favor of spending as much time as possible capturing the main attractions. In hindsight, Julie and I both wished we had done the hike on the first go-round as the trail is almost entirely flat and easy. While there are some rocks to cross near the beginning of the hike, the rest is a gentle grade of dirt, and thanks to thawing out conditions, a pretty solid amount of mud.
To get to the lakeshore requires some boulder scrambling, but it’s definitely worth the adventure. On a clearer day, there is a trail that continues from Lower Consolation Lake to Upper Consolation Lake. We decided against making the further trek this time, as there was still a fair amount of snow along the lakeshore but will definitely be back again in the future.
After enjoying our solitude at Lower Consolation Lake, we were ready to make the short return hike to Moraine Lake.
As the morning had gotten later, we saw a number of other hikers headed to the lake and were glad to have gotten an earlier start. Back at Moraine Lake, we spent some more time admiring its beauty before it was time to leave.
Have you been to Moraine or Consolation Lakes? Let us know in the comments!
FOR MORE TIPS AND INSPIRATION FROM THE CANADIAN ROCKIES CHECK OUT THESE POSTS:
Hiking the Valley of Ten Peaks: Eiffel Lake Trail
Hiking to Lake Agnes & the Big Beehive
The Best Places to Visit in Banff
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26 thoughts on “Hiking to Moraine & Consolation Lakes | Banff National Park”
Wow, this is so neat! I’ve hiked to Eiffel Lake, which is the trail that heads up to the right from the parking lot. I’m amazed at how different the views are from the opposite shore of Moraine Lake. I’m definitely adding this hike to my to-do list!
Thanks Diana! We haven’t made it to Eiffel Lake yet, but it’s on the ever-growing list of things we still need to go back and do another time! The whole area is just so beautiful!
So gorgeous. Thanks for taking me back to Banff National Park. I get excited every time I see glacial ice, even in picture.
Thanks Keng! Every time we look at photos from our past trips or see them online we start thinking about planning another trip back. There’s just so much to see and do!
So lovely! I’m planning to go to the Banff area next year with the whole family. I pinned this for later!
Thanks Catherine! I am glad that you found it helpful! Hope you have a great trip!
I seriously still can’t get over the colour of the Lake Moraine. Unfortunately in the winter when I visited there was too much snow for me to get anywhere close. Your post has me jonesing for a summer trip to Alberta!
It is so, so pretty in summer, but now I want to visit in winter and see everything frozen over! It’s just one of those destinations you have to visit in every season. 🙂
Wow, these photos are incredible! I’m from Michigan but sadly never made it up to Banff. This hike is going on my must-do list when I return home.
Thanks Chelsea! I hope you get to visit soon!
What an absolutely gorgeous hike and location. If i had the time and money to book a flight there now I would! Very pretty and fun I can imagine.
It is one of my favorite places! I hope you are able to see it one day!
Really keen on going here and hiking! Wonder if it would be stunning or safe to hike in winter time… thanks for sharing!
The road to Moraine Lake is not open in Winter, so you would have to hike very far if you wanted to visit. Some people make the trek though!
What an incredible place! I’ve seen photos of Banff a lot on social media but its totally different to read about your hikes. Your adventure sounds fantastic! I’d so love to go here some day. Iove the photos!
Thanks so much Suzy! It is a popular spot, but worth enduring the crowds to see it in person. Hope you get to go someday!
I’ve been dying to go to Banff lately! It seems like everyone is sharing gorgeous photos from there. I will definitely bookmark this for when I go.
It has gotten popular for a reason. Lol. Glad you found the post useful!
Beautiful photos. As a Canadian I’m so ashamed I haven’t done this hike yet. I want to go so badly!
I know how you feel. There are tons of things I haven’t done here in the U.S. yet. Hopefully soon for both of us! 🙂
Looks like an amazing trail! I considered hiking to Consolation Lakes when I visited Moraine Lake, but wasn’t too sure as the sign posts warned of bears and the illegality of hiking solo. Would you recommend this hike for solo hikers? thanks (beautiful pics!)
The signs they have posted are a bit tricky. I initially thought we couldn’t either because it says groups of 3-4, but that is only when there is a bear in the area. The trail was very popular, and there were seldom places that we were truly alone, so I think you would be fine.
Argh I want to see these views soooo much! Thank you for sharing this post and the amazing photos. The scenery is unreal!
Thank you for checking it out! 🙂
Wow!! Incredible view……… these two lakes are on my bucket list and we’re thinking of making a trip next year. What time of the year did you go there? Thanks for sharing!!
Thanks Kathi! It’s definitely a must visit if you’re going to be in the Lake Louise area. We visited the first time in August and this most recent time at the beginning of June. It wasn’t quite summer yet in June, so there was still a pretty fair amount of snow on the mountains. Enjoy your visit and be sure to check out some of our other posts on the area!