Some of the best hikes in Banff National Park can be found in the Moraine Lake area, but most of them are quite difficult. Thankfully, hikers looking for an easy Moraine Lake hiking trail can enjoy the Consolation Lakes Trail, one of our favorite easy hikes in Banff National Park.
Why do we enjoy the Consolation Lakes hike so much? This easy hike packs in a ton of scenery in a very short distance. During the 3 km hike to the Consolation Lakes, you’ll pass the Moraine Lake Rockpile, walk through the remnants of an old rockslide off the Tower of Babel, and enjoy a lush forest walk along the shores of Babel Creek.
Despite being one of the best hikes near Moraine Lake, the scenic Consolation Lakes hike is often not very busy. This easy Moraine Lake hike is an excellent choice for hikers looking to get away from the hordes of visitors around Moraine Lake.
Consolation Lakes Hike – Quick Details
Trailhead: Consolation Lakes trailhead
Distance: 6 km out and back
Elevation: 240 m elevation gain
What You’ll Find in This Article on Consolation Lakes Hike in Banff:
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Consolation Lakes Highlights
The majority of people who visit Moraine Lake actually spend a little bit of time on the Consolation Lakes Trail as they walk the 100 m or so from the parking lot to the Rockpile Viewpoint. 99% of people will simply walk to the top of the Rockpile for the incredible elevated views of Moraine Lake, but a few intrepid folks will continue past the rockpile for the beautiful, easy hike to Consolation Lakes.
The trailhead for the Consolation Lakes Trail is located at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the Rockpile.
You can’t miss the trailhead as it is next to the very prominent sign recommending hikers travel in groups of 4 or more due to grizzly bear activity in the area. A group of 4 or more is not mandatory, but if you do hike with 3 or fewer, please ensure you make lots of noise to alert any bears of your presence. (And every group should have bear spray, regardless of group size)
The Consolation Lakes Trail begins along a patch of very uneven rock. If you are new to hiking, don’t let this discourage you as this doesn’t last for very long. But before the trail surface gets any better, you’ll get to enjoy a short walk through the remnants of an old rockslide, which fell from the Tower of Babel (2,310 m), which is towering overhead on the right.
As you pass through the rockpile, listen carefully through the rockslide for the sound of an underground river beneath the rocks. Also, be sure to look to your right for some good views of some of the Ten Peaks which surround Moraine Lake, including Mount Bowlen (3,072 m), Tonsa Peak (3,057 m), Mount Perren (3,051 m) and Mount Allen (3,310 m).
After 400 m of walking through old rock slides, you’ll reenter the forest along a traditional hiking trail, with some protruding rocks and roots, but nothing too bad. This easy trail is 2 people wide for most of the length, making it a great kid-friendly hike or a hike for groups.
The forest along the hiking trail to Consolation Lakes is beautiful with a lush carpet of brilliant green moss. Old Man Lichen dangles in the wind off the branches of the spruce trees. The occasional boulder or fallen tree provides additional visual interest along the way. With such a lush forest, it’s no wonder that you’ll be surrounded by birdsong the entire way to the lakes.
After 900 m of hiking, you’ll start to hear the sound of water rushing down a mountain stream nearby. This is the sound of Babel Creek, which is just down the hill on the left. In a few hundred metres you’ll get to see the water rushing down Babel Creek. The flow can be surprisingly strong during the spring runoff, so be very careful if you decide to get near.
The hike follows the shore of Babel Creek for 300 m before the trail starts to diverge away from the water. If you can take your eyes off Babel Creek, you’ll notice that the Tower of Babel is still visible overhead through the trees on the right.
At the 1.4 km mark of this easy hike near Lake Louise, you’ll see a trail junction sign for Taylor Lake. The sign notes that the trail between the Consolation Lakes Trail to Taylor Lake is not well maintained, so we’d recommend you try the official Taylor Lake Trail on a separate outing.
You’ll hike over a series of elevated wood and gravel boardwalks at the 1.6 km mark of the hike. The boardwalks are necessary as there are several little streams running through the area and the ground below the boardwalks is quite marshy.
Just beyond the boardwalks, Mount Babel (3,101 m) becomes visible ahead through the trees. At this stage the trail flattens out and is even slightly downhill until you reach a beautiful, wide open meadow along the shores of Babel Creek around the 2.4 km mark.
The vistas you’ll enjoy from the Babel Creek meadow are one of the highlights of the Consolation Lakes hike. Panorama Ridge (2,824 m) hugs the northeast shores of the lake on your left, while the pyramid shaped Bident Mountain (3,084 m) rests at the far end of the lakes straight ahead. Mount Babel (on your right) completes the series of jagged mountain peaks surrounding the Consolation Lakes.
The views from the open meadow continue for the final 500m to the shores of Consolation Lakes. There are several spots where you can walk down to the shores of Babel Creek – in fact, this is our preferred place to stop for a snack at the end of the hike.
The Consolation Lakes trail ends at the shores of the first of two lakes. The lake is surrounded by a boulder field making it a bit difficult to navigate to the shore to get your first glimpse of the lake. The boulders are why we often end our Consolation Lakes hike a bit early and simply stop and enjoy the vistas along Babel Creek.
If we’re being honest, the Consolation Lakes cannot match the beauty of Moraine Lake from the rockpile, but to be fair, not many lakes around the world can. The Consolation Lakes can’t help that they are right next to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. We still appreciate they are very scenic Banff lakes surrounded on all sides by peaks of the Canadian Rockies.
The large boulders around the Consolation Lakes are prime hoary marmot habitat and if you are patient, you will often see one perched atop a rock enjoying some sun. Some of the marmots show signs of being food conditioned – please resist the urge to feed these majestic animals, no matter how cute they look. Human food is very harmful to them – please don’t feed them to allow future generations to continue enjoying this hoary marmot colony.
Consolation Lakes Trailhead
The Consolation Lakes trailhead is near Moraine Lake at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the Rockpile. You can’t miss the sign.
Parks Canada has closed the Moraine Lake Road to private vehicles. To visit Moraine Lake in 2024, plan ahead by booking a shuttle so you aren’t disappointed.
How to Get to Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake can no longer be reached by private vehicle, so there’s no longer concerns about Moraine Lake Parking.
There are several ways to get to Moraine Lake, but all involve booking a shuttle or a tour. We highly recommend you read our post on Getting to Moraine Lake, but if you are short on time this is a summary of the best options.
- Best Budget Option – The Parks Canada Moraine Lake shuttles operate every 20 minutes throughout the day and cost only $8 for an adult.
- Best Sunrise Option – The Moraine Lake Bus company offers shuttle rides that will get you to Moraine Lake 45 minutes before sunrise. The cost of this is only $35 per adult.
- Best Lake Louise Option – While the Moraine Lake Bus company offers sunrise shuttles to Moraine Lake, they also offer the shuttle throughout the day and have some time slots that make a stop at Lake Louise. All their shuttles leave from either the Lake Louise Village (sunrise) or the Lake Louise Ski Resort Park and Ride.
- Best Hotel Option – While expensive, staying at the Moraine Lake Lodge will give you all the time you want at this spectacular Banff lake.
- Best Option to Get to Moraine Lake from Banff – With access to a car, the Parks Canada shuttle is still one of the best options. Without a car, the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle and Explore Banff Tours & Transfers are the two best options. In September only, we recommend the Roam Bus Route 10 for visitors without a car as it goes direct from Banff to Moraine Lake.
- Best Option to Get to Moraine Lake from Canmore – With access to a car, the Parks Canada shuttle is still one of the best options to see Moraine Lake. Without a car, getting to Moraine Lake from Canmore is easiest with the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle or Explore Banff Tours & Transfers.
- Best Tour to Moraine Lake – Radventures offers a tour with stops at both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Visits to Moraine Lake will be at sunrise and you’ll still see Lake Louise before the crowds. It’s a 7 hour tour that also includes time for breakfast.
In addition, the Moraine Lake Road is only open between late May/early June until mid-October. The exact dates can vary but typically it’s around Victoria Day in May and after Canadian Thanksgiving in October.
Consolation Lakes Hike Stats
How Long is the Consolation Lakes Hike?
The round-trip distance of the Consolation Lakes trail is 6 km (one-way distance of 3 km) from the Consolation Lakes trailhead near the Rockpile.
If you’d like to navigate the huge boulders along the first lake to see the second Consolation Lake, the round-trip distance increases to 7.6 km
How Hard is the Hike to the Consolation Lakes?
Due to the manageable length and gentle incline, we rate the Consolation Lakes hike as “easy”.
At only 6 km and 240 m elevation gain, the Consolation Lakes trail is an easy Moraine Lake hike that most anyone can do. In fact, we’ve named the hike to Consolation Lakes as one of the best easy hikes in Banff National Park.
How Long Does the Consolation Lakes Hike Take?
It should take a typical adult just over an hour to hike to Consolation Lakes and back. We frequently enjoy this hike with our kids (most recently when they were 6 and 4 years old) and it took us 2 hours including time for lunch along Babel Creek and stopping for pictures.
Consolation Lakes Trail Map
The Consolation Lakes trail is very easy to follow and is well marked. If you are feeling uncertain, you can use the Alltrails app while hiking to Consolation Lakes.
To find the Lake Agnes trail map in Alltrails, simply search for “Consolation Lakes Trail”. Be sure to download your hiking maps prior to leaving as you can’t be guaranteed a cell signal around Moraine Lake.
Enjoy map downloads and many more premium features with a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+!
A paper map isn’t required for this Moraine Lake area trail, but if you prefer to hike with a paper map and compass as an additional safety layer, we highly recommend Gem Trek hiking maps. We own the entire set of these excellent Banff and Kananaskis hiking maps. They are exceptional 3D topographic maps which we love looking at for hiking inspiration.
The Consolation Lakes trail map is found in the “Lake Louise & Yoho” map. You can order your own Gem Trek maps before your visit to Banff, or you can pick them up here as they are widely available.
Hiking Consolation Lakes Trail with Kids
If you are visiting Banff with kids, this is an excellent hike for the entire family. With a gentle slope, even the littlest kids should have no issues with this easy Banff hike. Our son was only 3 years old the first time he did the entire hike to the lakes.
The meadow by Babel Creek is a fun place for kids to play and throw rocks in the water, while the rock pile near the lake is home to many beautiful hoary marmots. Please help keep these magnificent animals wild (and healthy) by not feeding them.
The hiking trail to Consolation Lakes is typically wide enough for 2-3 people, making it a great hike for families or groups.
Don’t miss these other best Banff day-hikes with kids.
Best Place to Stop for Lunch or a Break
The best place to stop for lunch is along the shores of Babel Creek, just shy of the first Consolation Lake. The creek is so tranquil and beautiful here that it is a natural spot to stop. The views of the Canadian Rockies surrounding the Consolation Lakes are breathtaking from this spot.
Consolation Lakes Hiking Safety
There are relatively few hiking hazards along the Consolation Lakes hiking trail. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow up all the way to the beautiful Banff lakes.
That being said, there is a prominent Grizzly Bear Warning sign at the trailhead. Parks Canada recommends that hikers travel in tight groups of 4 people or more when on the Consolation Lakes trail. This is not mandatory, but highly recommended as bear attacks on large groups are extremely rare.
Before hiking Consolation Lakes, please take the time to educate yourself on Bear Safety in Banff National Park. And please, make lots of noise as you hike to alert the bears of your presence.
Cougars also live in Banff National Park. Learn more about Cougar Safety in Banff National Park.
Despite the presence of black bears, grizzly bears and cougars, the chances of a dangerous wildlife encounter in Banff are very low, but you never know what will happen with Banff wildlife, so be prepared.
We recommend you check the Consolation Lakes trail report for the Consolation Lakes trail conditions, wildlife warnings and possible closures before you head out. Simply click on the link and scroll down to the “Moraine Lake Area” hikes.
Consolation Lakes Trail Logistics
On-leash dogs are allowed on the Consolation Lakes hike, while mountain biking is not allowed. There are toilets in the Moraine Lake parking lot, but not up at the lakes.
Plan to pack plenty of water and snacks for this hike and fill your hydration packs before you leave.
You will get some cell service when you are near the Moraine Lake parking lot, but you quickly lose it as you round the Tower of Babel. You’ll have no bars from here to the end of the hike, so don’t count on it for your safety.
What to Bring for Hiking Consolation Lakes
This isn’t a very long hike, so you don’t need to be as prepared with all the proper hiking gear. Check out our list of Banff hiking gear essentials with our recommendations to help you get the most enjoyment out of your hike, regardless of the variable Banff weather and trail conditions.
The Consolation Lakes trail is a short Banff hike, but there are still a few items that we recommend bringing:
- Bear Spray – Bear spray is a must. Canisters are available to buy or rent at many locations in Canmore and Banff. Carry your bear spray in an easily accessible location, not in your bag.
- Plenty of Water – the Consolation Lakes trail is an easy hike for most, but it’s always a good safety idea to bring plenty of water, especially on a hot summer day. A hydration pack is an effective and eco-conscious way to bring enough water for a day hike in Banff.
- Layers – Bring several layers of clothing with you. The weather can be quite variable hiking in Banff National Park, no matter the season. For hiking in Banff, we typically wear convertible hiking pants, T-shirts, a fleece top and rain jackets. Bring a daybag as you can expect to put on and take off layers all day.
- Trekking Poles – We don’t use trekking poles, but many Banff hikers like them to help with balance and to take pressure off knees on the descent.
- Insect Repellent – Due to the amount of standing water near the trail in spring, the mosquitos can get annoying for a few weeks. If you are hiking in late spring / early summer, it helps to have insect repellent with you.
Consolation Lakes Footwear Recommendation
The Consolation Lakes trail is in decent shape for most of its length and you could do this hike with trainers on. That said, the trail often gets soggy and muddy especially in spring, so we recommend you wear water resistant hiking shoes.
Hiking Consolation Lakes in Fall
In September, everyone goes crazy for the best larch tree hikes around Lake Louise, such as the Larch Valley Trail (which also leaves from Moraine Lake). While you will not see larch trees on the Consolation Lakes trail, it is a good Banff hike if you wish to avoid the larch tree madness elsewhere in the national park.
Consolation Lake Hiking Tour
Did you know that you can visit Consolation Lakes as part of a small-group guided tour with Discover Banff Tours?
Consolation Lakes is one of our favorite Moraine Lake hikes, especially with kids!
Other Lake Louise Hikes
Banff Trip Planning Resources
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Dan Brewer, a life-long Alberta resident, calls Canmore home along with his wife and two kids. He is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada, where he gets to share his passion for the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Dan, along with his family, love being outdoors doing one of the many activities they enjoy in the mountains: hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
When he's not in Canmore enjoying one of his favourite local hikes, you can find him hoping on a plane to explore a new country with his family or working on one of their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.