The Larch Valley trail may be the most famous of the Moraine Lake hikes, but the Eiffel Lake hike could quite possibly be the most beautiful. A moderately difficult hike, the Eiffel Lake trail offers hikers the best of the Lake Louise and Moraine Lake area. Not only will you enjoy golden larch trees in fall, but you’ll also get incredible views of the majestic mountains of the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
Although the Eiffel Lake hike is a nice alternative to the crowds on the Larch Valley trail in the fall, don’t think you should only hike to Eiffel Lake in September. In the spring and summer, you’ll love the views of the incredible mountains of the Valley of the Ten Peaks surrounding Moraine Lake. They are likely the most photographed mountains in the Canadian Rockies.
But if you have the opportunity, fall is when the Eiffel Lake trail is at its best. The amazing views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks remain, but you will also enjoy a walk through beautiful forest of golden larch trees.
Although the larch trees are not as extensive as they are in nearby Larch Valley, the combination of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and the fall colors makes the Eiffel Lake hike one of the best larch hikes in Alberta. A huge bonus is that the Eiffel Lake trail is much less busy than its incredibly popular neighbour, the Larch Valley trail.
Eiffel Lake Trail – Quick Details
Trailhead: Eiffel Lake Trailhead
Distance: 12.2 km out and back
Elevation: 610 m elevation gain
What You’ll Find in This Article on Eiffel Lake Hike in Banff:
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Eiffel Lake Hike Highlights
The Eiffel Lake trail begins along the Moraine Lakeshore trail, just past the Moraine Lake Lodge. The crushed gravel trail is wide enough for two people and starts a little bit uphill. You’ll hike through a mossy, evergreen forest with Old Man Lichen hanging from the tree branches.
You’ll cross many charming little mountain streams over the first 600 m of hiking the Eiffel Lake trail. Some streams are crossed via a small wooden bridge, while others go through a culvert under the trail.
After the 0.6 km mark of the Eiffel Lake hike, you can start to see the famous mountains of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, which line the shores of Moraine Lake. In season, wildflowers grow along the side of the hiking trail.
The Eiffel Lake hiking trail becomes less groomed at the 1 km mark. From this point onwards, there will be some roots and rocks on the trail surface, but nothing too bad. You’ll appreciate having good hiking shoes for traction and ankle support.
To this point, the Eiffel Lake hike has been a steady uphill, but at the 1.1 km mark the trail transitions to a series of switchbacks and becomes noticeably steeper.
Parks Canada is trying hard to repair the damage done by hikers cutting corners through the switchbacks. Please help keep the Eiffel Lake hike beautiful and don’t use the shortcuts.
As you climb the switchbacks up the Eiffel Lake trail, the views of the mountains of the Valley of the Ten Peaks become better, especially Mount Bowlen (3,072 m). Mount Babel (3,101 m) isn’t one of the the official ‘Ten Peaks’, but it also looks especially nice here.
At the 1.3 km mark of the Eiffel Lake hike, the tight, short switchbacks end, and a series of longer switchbacks begin. If you look closely, Moraine Lake will become visible through the trees. When you are standing on the shores of Moraine Lake, it’s hard to believe that the color of the water could get more beautiful, but the deep turquoise color seems to get even brighter the higher up you go.
The trees start to thin out a bit at the 1.8 km mark of the Eiffel Lake trail. Less trees mean stunning views of Moraine Lake and the surrounding mountains of the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
It’s hard not to stop every 20 feet to soak it in the vistas, and why not? Unless you are in a hurry, indulge yourself and stop as often as you want. The views of Banff National Park don’t get much better than this.
Before you know it, the switchbacks end and there’s a thoughtfully placed bench for those who need to catch their breath. If you stop, take a moment and look around as you’ve also reached the altitude where the larch trees start to grow.
Just after the bench, there’s an important trail junction – the Eiffel Lake trail goes to the left, while the exceptionally popular Larch Valley trail and Sentinel Pass trail goes to the right.
Ahhhh…. After a tough slog up the switchbacks, your hard work is over for the day. The remaining distance of the Eiffel Lake hike is a gentle uphill slope the whole way. You’ll notice that about 95% of the hikers continue on to the Larch Valley trail. Don’t sweat it… the Eiffel Lake trail is an exceptionally beautiful hike and less hikers make it that much better.
We recently hiked to Eiffel Lake early in larch season. There was fresh snow on the trees and trail from a snowfall the previous night. A mist which had settled over Moraine Lake was lifting and the sun was brightly shining on the Valley of the Ten Peaks, which now had a dusting of snow on top. It was magical.
The Eiffel Lake trail starts out with lots of rocks and roots. You’ll see the occasional larch tree here, but at this stage are quite sporadic.
One of the best things about the Eiffel Lake hike is that you will enjoy virtually non-stop views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks the entire way once you pass the junction. You get your first good glimpse of the Ten Peaks at 2.9 km when you arrive at a gap in the trees and Mount Tuzo (3,236 m) and Deltaform Mountain (3,423 m) soar overhead.
As you walk forward Mount Bowlen and Mount Fay (3,235 m) also emerge from the trees. It’s easy to see why the mountains of the Valley of the Ten Peaks around Moraine Lake are world-renowned for their beauty.
At the 3.2 km mark, there’s a spot along the hiking trail with no trees. From this vantage point you can see nine of the Ten Peaks – from Mount Fay all the way to Deltaform Mountain. The only one missing is Wenkchemna Peak (3,170 m), but she is coming soon. If you look down and behind you a bit, you can see Moraine Lake from above. On a sunny day, the water can only be described as electric turquoise blue.
Nearly a kilometre later, the concentration of larch trees increases noticeably. The fresh snow dripping off the golden larch needles, which are glowing in the morning sun is one of the most beautiful sights in all of Banff National Park.
By the 4.3 km mark, larch trees make up about half of the trees in the forest. They are not as dense as they are further up the mountain on the Larch Valley trail, but there are a legitimate amount of them here.
Just as you are getting accustomed to the magnificent views, you’ll turn a corner at the 4.5 km mark and a brand new vista opens up straight ahead. And there she is, Wenkchemna Peak – the final of the Ten Peaks! Not to be outdone, Eiffel Tower (3,080 m) is now visible way overhead on your right.
And just like that, a few hundred meters later, the forest just stops. This is the beginning of hiking through the shale of a rock fall, which must have wiped out the forest many years ago.
Although you are no longer hiking through a forest, the valley floor below is filled with larches. The best part is that without trees, you’ll enjoy 180 degree views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
As you turn the next corner through the rockslide, you’ll have an excellent vantage point of the westernmost Ten Peaks. If you are continuing your hike beyond Eiffel Lake to Wenkchemna Pass, you can now see your destination straight ahead.
If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the distinctive “eeeep” call of a pika – the cutest animal in the Rockies. Marmots (also very cute, but not quite pika cute) also live in this rocky terrain. Please keep these special creatures wild and do not feed them human food.
Eiffel Lake comes into full view after 5.4 km of hiking. There are many larch trees huddling near the shoreline. It’s a relatively smaller alpine lake, but the color of the water in Eiffel Lake is indescribably beautiful – it’s a deep green/blue, almost like dark teal or turquoise.
At the 6.1 km mark, you’ll notice a cairn marking the spot where the trail officially ends. There’s a steep trail from here down to the lake shore, but it’s an unofficial trail, and we chose not to hike it. Rather, we turned around and found a beautiful spot for lunch, admiring the beauty of Eiffel Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
The Eiffel Lake Trail earned a spot on the list – come see the rest of the Best Hikes in Banff National Park.
Eiffel Lake Trailhead
The Eiffel Lake trailhead is found along the Moraine Lakeshore trail which starts near the Moraine Lake Lodge on the west side of Moraine Lake.
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.
Eiffel Lake Hike Stats
How Long is the Eiffel Lake Hike?
The round-trip distance of the Eiffel Lake trail is 12.2 km (one-way distance of 6.1 km) from the Moraine Lakeshore trail to the rock cairn near Eiffel Lake.
How Hard is the Hike to Eiffel Lake?
Due to the length and incline, we rate the Eiffel Lake hike as a “moderate hike”.
At 12.2 km and 609 m elevation gain, the Eiffel Lake trail is more of a moderate Banff hike than an easy one.
Don’t let this scare you, this is still a relatively easy Moraine Lake hike, with the exception of a 1 km stretch of switchbacks. The hiking trail starts out quite smooth but it also gets to be more rocky the higher up you climb, requiring you to watch your footing more closely.
It is a consistent climb on the way up, but you can always find a spot to take a break. Once at Eiffel Lake, you can choose a large rock to take a break and enjoy the mountain views.
How Long Does the Eiffel Lake Hike Take?
It should take a typical adult 3 – 4 hours to hike to Eiffel Lake. If you have the time and energy you can continue an additional 3 km (one way) up the Wenkchemna Pass trail. We recently enjoyed the Eiffel Lake hike in just under 3 hours.
Eiffel Lake Trail Map
The Eiffel Lake hike is easy to follow the entire distance to the lake. If you are feeling uncertain, or simply like to track your hiking stats, you can use the AllTrails app while hiking to Eiffel Lake, but you likely won’t need it as the hiking trail is also well signed.
To find the Eiffel Lake trail map in AllTrails, simply search for “Eiffel Lake Trail”. With no cell service at Moraine Lake, be sure to download your hiking maps prior to leaving.
Enjoy map downloads and many more premium features with a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+!
A paper map isn’t required for this moderate Banff hike, 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 Eiffel Lake trail map is found in the “Lake Louise & Yoho” Gem Trek map.
Hiking Eiffel Lake Trail with Kids
If you are visiting Banff with kids, this is an excellent family hike in the Lake Louise area. With the consistent climb and rocky sections, this hike may be challenging for some kids, but it’s very rewarding to make it to the top. Even kids can appreciate the views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks which you earn on the Eiffel Lake trail.
If you stop for lunch at Eiffel Lake, see if you can spot a pika or a marmot. These beautiful Banff animals call the rock piles around the lake home. If you are lucky enough to see one, please give them space and under no circumstances feed them.
We haven’t hiked to Eiffel Lake with our kids (6 and 8 years old) yet, but we have hiked to Larch Valley and on to Sentinel Pass. Not only were they able to easily do this hike, but they also really enjoyed it. They love the golden larch trees in fall and looking for pikas (quite possible the cutest animal in Canada!).
Don’t miss these other best Banff day-hikes with kids.
Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break
The obvious place to stop for lunch is when you reach Eiffel Lake, but you could also stop at the bench at the Larch Valley trail junction. The hiking trail remains above the shores of Eiffel Lake, so you’ll enjoy elevated views of the lake along with many of the Ten Peaks.
Eiffel Lake Hiking Safety
Aside from a few sections with rocks and roots that you’ll need to hike over, there are relatively few hiking hazards along the Eiffel Lake hiking trail. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow up all the way to Eiffel Lake.
That being said, it’s still important to educate yourself on Bear Safety in Banff National Park. This should entail carrying bear spray, hiking in a group and making plenty of noise on the way up. At times you may find that Parks Canada institutes a restriction for this area that requires hikers to hike in groups of 4 or more.
Cougars also live in Banff National Park. Learn more about Cougar Safety in Banff National Park.
Chances of a dangerous wildlife encounter in Banff and lake Louise are very low, but you never know what will happen with Banff wildlife, so be prepared.
We recommend you check the Eiffel Lake trail report (found under the Moraine Lake Area) for the Eiffel Lake trail conditions, wildlife warnings and possible closures before you head out.
Eiffel Lake Trail Logistics
- On-leash dogs are allowed on the Eiffel Lake hike.
- Mountain biking is not allowed on the Eiffel Lake trail.
- There are toilets in the Moraine Lake parking lot.
- Plan to pack plenty of water and snacks for this hike. Fill your hydration packs before you leave.
- There is no cell service in the Moraine Lake area, so please don’t count on it for your safety.
What to Bring for Hiking Eiffel Lake Trail
Check out our list of hiking essentials with the hiking gear and clothing we recommend to get the most enjoyment out of your hike, regardless of the variable Banff weather and trail conditions. Here are a few items we recommend bringing:
- Bear spray is a must. Cannisters 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).
- Water – the Eiffel Lake trail is a consistent uphill climb and on a hot summer day you’ll want to ensure you have enough water. A hydration pack is an effective and eco-conscious way to bring enough water for a hard hike.
- Bring several layers of clothing with you. The weather can be quite variable hiking in the Banff mountains, 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. For fall hiking, a toque, mitts, and jacket may be necessary.
- We don’t often use trekking poles, but they can help with balance and to take pressure off knees on the descent.
Eiffel Lake Footwear Recommendation
The Eiffel Lake trail is in decent shape for most of its length, but with the sections covered in roots we recommend hiking shoes or boots.
The Eiffel Lake hike is one of the best trails for seeing the Valley of the Ten Peaks, and golden larch trees in fall. All this, without the crowds found at Larch Valley!
Other Banff Larch Hikes
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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.