Hiking to Sentinel Pass is a 10.5 mile one-way shuttle hike (16.5 miles RT without shuttle). Enjoy panoramic views of craggy peaks, glacial lakes and valleys

This popular hike starts out by the one the most iconic lakes in Banff National Park, Moraine Lake. Though the trail from Larch Valley attracts herds of tourists, this is a majestic hike you don’t want to miss.

Before your hike, contact the park office at Moraine Lake about possible hiking restrictions due to bears. For your safety, as well as that of the bears, please obey these restrictions. It is also highly advised that you carry bear spray as an added precaution.

Start your hike at the Larch Valley trailhead past the Moraine Lake lodge. The wide well maintained path switchbacks as it ascends moderately through forest. The ascent gradually flattens to a gentle grade and soon you arrive in the open meadow of Larch Valley at 2.2 miles. The striking, distinct Ten Peaks that loom over Moraine Lake now come into full view. To feel the full impact of this glorious scene, continue up the tight switchbacks on open talus slopes cresting Sentinel Pass at 3.6 miles. From unusual rock spires to which the pass gets is name, to the craggy peaks and the valley below, the views down both sides of the pass are just too incredible for words.

North of the pass, a trail descends into Paradise Valley. Pay attention to your footing as it is a rocky descent with boulders strewn about. Continue northeast onto the Paradise Valley Trail where it meanders through forest and crosses small streams. En route to the trail head you will pass the splendid Lake Annette at 6.8 miles. From the lake it is a heavily forested 3.7 mile descent to the Paradise Valley trail head and parking area.

Finally, catch a ride for the six miles back to Moraine Lake. I highly advise to stick around for sunset at the lake. It is the most stupendous view you will ever witness and a fitting end to an ever glorious day.

Pack List

  • Plenty of water or water filter
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Bear Spray
  • Sturdy Hiking Boots
  • Trekking Poles
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RT Distance 10.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 2381 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Unbelievable

We are from Seattle and Sentinel Pass was our first hike in Banff. Trail starts with steep switchbacks, which eventually level off, leading to mountain meadows. After the mountain meadows you will hit the upper Alpine Lake which was still mostly frozen over. The view from here shows you the daunting Sentinel Pass switchback route. Highly encourage making it to the top of the lass, as views are stunning looking in both directions. The opposite direction we heard constant thunderous avalanches. Very cool. No micro spikes needed, though they would have been helpful near the top. Hiking poles also not needed, but would have been helpful.


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