With a couple of friends and a beautiful day on the horizon we decided to make the trip to Moraine Lake to explore the Wenkchemna Pass Eiffel Lake hike. This hike is a little less travelled than some other hikes in the area such as Moraine lake lakeshore or Larch Valley (http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/randonee-hiking/lakelouise.aspx) but you will not be disappointed by the views.
The trail starts at Moraine Lake lodge where you will be treated to a spectacular array of colours in the lake’s water and the quintessential canoes, all situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. You will need to arrive early to start this hike as it is 20 km return and the parking lot gets very busy.
Canoes on Moraine Lake
As you travel up several switchbacks through the trees you will see many glacier streams that feed into the various lakes in the area. The first part of this hike is in the trees and takes about 45 minutes (3 km) for about 350 meters of elevation gain. You will reach a fork in the trail where you can either head right to the Larch Valley/Sentinel Pass hike or, as we did, you veer left to the Eiffel Lake and Wenkchemna Pass.
Once you leave the forest behind, you are treated to a panoramic view of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and the saddle that makes up Wenkchemna Pass. It is important to be aware of bear activity in the area since this is part of their territory and they use many of the passes to move between feeding areas. We didn’t see any bears on our journey but we did encounter many marmots and Ptarmigan hens.
View of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and Wenkchemna Pass
As we continued our ascent to the pass, Eiffel Lake comes into view and you are treated to a full view of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. There was still snow on some of the peaks and we could hear the rumblings of avalanches and rock slides on some of the peaks across the valley. You can turn around at Eiffel Lake or continue on to Wenkchemna Pass. As you travel past Eiffel Lake you are treated to a very pleasant hike through the valley and the glacier streams that run through the rocks until Wenkchemna Pass comes into full view and the scramble begins.
The view of Eiffel Lake and Wenkchemna pass in the distance, Eiffel Lake and the valley of the Ten Peaks, Glacier stream feeding Eiffel Lake and the scramble up to Wenkchemna pass.
The final push to the pass is well worth the effort as you will have a full view of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and Prospector’s Valley in Yoho National Park. The trail can become confusing in the scree so look for the cairns to help lead the way up and down. We wanted to have lunch at the top but the wind gusts were strong and chilly, instead we opted to descend and find some shelter for our picnic.
The top of Wenkchemna Pass
Valley of the Ten Peaks with Eiffel Lake in the distance
Prospector's Valley in Yoho National Park
The descent was just as scenic as the ascent as you now have the opportunity to see the trail from a different perspective.
A different view of the Eiffel Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks
One of the truly astonishing parts of this hike is the vastness of the mountains and the relative size of some of the boulders. On our way back down we passed this one boulder which needed some context for how big it is.
Me 5’7” & the boulder super big
The final treat of the day was the stellar view of Morraine Lake from the trail as we headed back to the Lodge. The spectacular blue of the water can be seen peaking though the trees and signals the final part of the hike.
Hiking time: 4.5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 370 m
Hiking time: 7.5 to 8 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 720 m
- 20 L Day Pack
- Scarpa SL Lady Bordo hiking boots - www.scarpa.com
- LEGEND TUFFTM compression merino wool hiking socks - www.legendcompressionwear.com
- Komperdell hiking poles (optional, I brought one pole but I didn’t end up needing it) - www.komperdell.com