Paradise Valley Trail to Lake Annette – Banff

Author: Dan Brewer

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The Paradise Valley Trail is a scenic hiking trail with amazing mountain views that leads to the beautiful Lake Annette at the base of Mt. Temple.

If you enjoy the beauty of a glacial fed alpine lake without the crowds, then you’ll love Lake Annette in Banff National Park. An often overlooked hike on the Moraine Lake Road, the lonesome, yet beautiful Lake Annette is reached via the Paradise Valley Trail.

Dan Brewer, owner of TravelBanffCanada.com, walks along the beautiful shoreline of Lake Annette, near Mt. Temple in Banff National Park.

The Paradise Valley Trail to Annette Lake is a relatively easy Banff hike through a gorgeous forest, to a stunning lake at the base of the majestic Mt. Temple (3,544 m). Compared to the hordes of tourists found just up the road at Instagram-favorite Moraine Lake, Annette Lake is peaceful and quiet.

Paradise Valley Trail to Lake Annette Hike Stats

Distance: 11.4 km / 7.1 miles out and back.

Elevation Gain: 370 meters / 1200 ft.

Estimated Time: 3 – 4 hours.

Important Things to Know:

You cannot drive to the Paradise Valley trailhead. You need to take a Moraine Lake Shuttle and ask to get dropped off at the trailhead.

Click to browse even more Banff Hiking Trails of this same difficulty!

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Paradise Valley to Lake Annette Hike Highlights

After getting off your Parks Canada shuttle bus at Paradise Creek, the Paradise Valley Trail enters a very lush, dense evergreen forest with a vibrant mossy carpet. The Paradise Valley hiking trail is 2-people wide, making it a nice hiking trail for groups or families.

The Paradise Valley Trail to Lake Annette runs through a lush subalpine forest.

About 300 m into the hike, the Paradise Valley trail gets close enough to Paradise Creek that you can hear it through the trees. It’s not long before you can start to see it too.

After 1 km of hiking along the Paradise Valley Trail towards Lake Annette, the trail flattens out a bit. Look through the trees on your left for nice views of Little Temple (2,653 m).

Shortly after there’s another important trail junction. The Paradise Valley Trail goes to the right, but we recommend you temporarily go left and walk to the nearby bridge over Paradise Creek. From this bridge you’ll enjoy amazing views of Sheol Mountain (2,776 m), Haddo Peak (3,070 m) and Saddleback Mountain (2,433 m).

Canadian Rocky Mountains seen from the bridge over Paradise Creek on the hike to Lake Annette, Banff National Park.

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There’s an excellent hike in the mountains you see from the bridge. Start with the Saddleback Mountain hiking trail and then add on the Sheol Valley Trail and a portion of the Paradise Valley Trail for an amazing day of hiking around Lake Louise.

Once you are done at the bridge, get back on the Paradise Valley Trail. 500m later, there’s another junction – go left to keep hiking the Paradise Valley Trail towards Lake Annette.

Despite the nearby Larch Valley hike getting all the attention for the best fall colors in Banff National Park, the low lying shrubs along the Paradise Valley Trail are quite beautiful in fall too. These small shrubs grow in large numbers along the hiking trail to Lake Annette and glow a brilliant yellow or red.

Shrubs with bright red leaves line the hiking trail to Lake Annette in Banff, Canada.

After 1.9 km of mostly easy uphill hiking on the Paradise Valley trail, the trail switches to a nice, gentle downhill. Watch for some excellent views of Mt. Temple through the trees on your left.

Mt. Temple is the 3rd highest and one of the most majestic mountains in all of Banff National Park. You’ll get to see Mt. Temple up close and personal a bit later when you reach the shores of Lake Annette.

Sheol Mountain makes a dramatic appearance through the trees at the 2.5 km mark of the Paradise Valley hike to Lake Annette. I love the reddish-orangish rocks intermixed with the grey on the cliffs of Sheol Mountain. If you can peel your eyes off Sheol Mountain, take some time to admire the many different species of mushrooms happily growing in the mossy carpet.

Sheol Mountain as seen from the Paradise Valley hiking trail in the Moraine Lake area of Banff National Park.

The hiking trail crosses Paradise Creek at the 3.7 km mark. We’re getting close enough now that you can start to see the massive glacier atop Mt. Temple. The impressive Sheol Mountain is behind you to the right, with Saddle Mountain all the way behind.

The majestic Mt. Temple can be seen through the trees on the hike to Lake Annette in Banff National Park, Canada.

At this stage, the Paradise Valley hike becomes less of a forest hike and more of a scenic hike, with rugged Canadian Rocky mountain views in all directions.

600 m later, you’ll cross back over Paradise Creek. Beyond the bridge, the hiking trail follows the creek for a ways.

Dan Brewer, of the Travel Banff Canada blog, crosses a bridge over Paradise Creek while hiking to Lake Annette in Banff, Canada.

The junction to Saddleback Pass (the awesome hike I mentioned earlier) appears at the 4.6 km mark of the Paradise Valley trail. There are no distances on the Parks Canada trail sign, but our GPS measurements from AllTrails show it was roughly 4 km to Saddleback Pass and another 4 km to Lake Louise.

Beyond the Saddleback Pass junction, the Paradise Valley hike reenters the forest, although the creek is still close enough to hear. The hiking trail narrows at this point to become single file.

At the 5.2 km mark, the Paradise Valley Trail crosses the creek one final time before reaching Lake Annette. The trail becomes noticeably steeper here for a short while, but it’s still quite manageable.

A hiker in Banff National Park walking towards Lake Annette.

After 500 m of uphill hiking, you can see the raging stream from Lake Annette down below. A few meters later, you’ll see a few larch trees, and then suddenly the forest opens up and the beautiful Lake Annette sits before your very eyes.

Lake Annette is an incredibly beautiful lake in Banff National Park. For starters, Mount Temple looms very large overhead on the far side of the lake. The complex rock formations on her vertical slopes are mesmerizing to look at.

Celine Brewer, of the Travel Banff Canada blog, stands next to Lake Annette and Mt. Temple in Banff, Canada.

There’s larch and spruce trees all around the shores, often reflecting in the still water of Lake Annette. And, there’s a rock pile at the far end of the lake. Listen for the distinctive “eeeeeep” sound of the pikas who call this rockpile home.

If you hike to Lake Annette with kids, or are just a big kid yourself, it’s fun to play with the echoes bouncing off Mt. Temple. Just don’t do it if there are other people there – they may not find it as amusing as you do.

Larch trees reflect in the mirror-like glass of Lake Annette in Banff in September.

Lake Annette is a stunning destination in Banff National Park. If you still have time and energy, the Giant Steps are another 4.1 km away along the Paradise Valley trail.

Lake Annette Larch Tree Hike

In mid-to-late September, the hike to Lake Annette becomes a very good larch tree hike in Banff National Park. If you are not already aware, larch trees are a special type of tree which look like normal evergreen trees for most of the growing season. Then in late September, their needles turn a beautiful gold color, before falling to the ground for winter.

If you are lucky enough to hike to Lake Annette in fall, you’ll enjoy larch trees all around the lake and the nearby hills. There’s an especially large stand of larch trees on hte opposite side of the lake on the lower slopes of Mt. Temple.

A stand of larch trees are starting to turn color along the shores of Lake Annette in Banff, Canada.

If you are looking for a less-crowded Banff larch tree hike in September, the Paradise Valley Trail to Lake Annette is a great choice.

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Want to know more about larch hikes in Banff? Check out our post on the best larch hikes in Banff National Park.

How to Get to Lake ANNETTE

The Paradise Valley trailhead is found on Moraine Lake Road, but this road is now permanently closed to public vehicles. To get to the Paradise Valley trailhead, your best bet would be to take a Parks Canada Moraine Lake shuttle bus. Ask the driver to let you off at the Paradise Creek parking lot.

A Parks Canada shuttle bus to Moraine Lake is parked in the Lake Louise Ski Resort parking lot.

When you are done your hike to Annette Lake, simply return to Moraine Lake Road and flag down the next Parks Canada shuttle bus. If there is no room on the bus, they won’t stop, but they will radio to the next bus departing Moraine Lake to ensure they leave some empty seats for you. We were able to get on the first shuttle bus that passed by around 1PM.

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There’s a lot to know about the shuttle system in Banff National Park. We have a post with everything you need to know about the Moraine Lake shuttle.

Alternatively, there are some bike racks in the Paradise Creek parking lot, so you could ride your bike there instead of taking a Parks Canada shuttle. This would require you to park at Lake Louise or at the Lake Louise ski resort and bike from there.

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How Long is the Paradise Valley to Lake Annette Hike?

The round-trip distance of the hike from the Paradise Valley trailhead to Lake Annette trail is 11.4 km (one-way distance of 5.7 km).

A glacier on top of Mt. Temple is visible as you cross a bridge over Paradise Creek in Banff.

How Hard is the Hike to Lake Annette?

Due to the length and incline, we rate the Lake Annette hike as “moderate”.

At a manageable length of 11.4 km and only 370 m elevation gain, the Paradise Valley to Lake Annette trail is a moderate hike in Banff National Park. Depending on your fitness level, you may find this hike difficult, but by taking breaks when needed, it’s a hike most anyone should be able to do.

How Long Does the Lake Annette Hike Take?

It should take a typical adult 3 – 4 hours to hike Paradise Valley to Lake Annette. We recently did this hike and it took us exactly 3 hours including time for lunch at Lake Annette and stopping for pictures.

A beautiful waterfall as seen on the Padasie Valley Trail to Lake Annette.

Paradise Valley Trail Map

The Paradise Valley Trail is wide, easy to follow and well marked. You can likely make your way to Lake Annette without a trail map, but it’s probably a good idea to have a hiking map on your phone.

The new reality of needing to take a shuttle to the trailhead means there will be less people on the hiking trail. In addition, there are several unmarked hiking trails in the area – it’s good to know where to go just in case.

A Lake Annette trail sign on the Paradise Valley Trail in Banff National Park.

When I go hiking in Banff National Park, I always use the AllTrails app, both for navigational purposes and to track my hiking stats. To find the Paradise Valley to Lake Annette trail map in Alltrails, simply click here for the “Lake Annette trail”.

Use my link to ensure you get the right map as there are many Lake Annette hikes around the world, including one in Jasper National Park. Be sure to download your hiking maps prior to leaving as you won’t get reliable cell service on this hike.

A recent App of the Year winner, AllTrails is also one of the best apps for visiting Banff! Enjoy map downloads and many more premium features with a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+!

Clouds shroud Mt. Temple as seen from Lake Annette in Banff, Canada.

Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break

The best place to stop for lunch is at the shores of Lake Annette. I could have sat at the lakeshore staring up at Mt. Temple for hours.

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Lake Annette Hiking Safety

Parks Canada recommends that people hike the Paradise Valley Trail in groups of 4 or more due to increased grizzly bear risk. This is not mandatory, but recommended.

A Parks Canada sign at the Paradise Valley trailhead which recommends hikers go in groups of 4 or more due to grizzly bear risk.

The day we hiked the Paradise Valley Trail to Lake Annette, the trail had just reopened. It had been shut down the week prior due to a momma grizzly bear and her cub eating a mountain goat near the trail. We didn’t see any bears on our hike to Annette Lake, but we did see a massive, berry filled bear poo on the trail – evidence that we were not alone in the forest.

Wildlife Safety

When hiking in Banff National Park, you are responsible for your own safety. Before hitting the hiking trails we highly recommend you read our 10 Essential Banff Hiking Tips for information about bear safety, trail conditions, wildlife warnings and possible closures.

As for non-wildlife risks, be aware that 300 m into the hike, you’ll reach a junction for the Highline mountain biking trail. At this stage, you may encounter a mountain bike in the trail for the next 500 m or so. Chances are good you won’t see any mountain bikers, but be aware just in case.

A beautiful black and blue Stellar Jay along the hike to Lake Annette in Banff National Park.
We saw this Stellar Jay on the hike to Lake Annette.

Paradise Valley to Lake Annette Trail Logistics

On-leash dogs are allowed on the Paradise Valley hiking trail, but only small dogs in crates are allowed on the Parks Canada shuttle buses. There are no porta-potties in the parking lot.

I had a few bars here and there, but don’t count on reliable cell service for your safety.

The larch trees around Lake Annette start to change color in September.

What to Bring for Hiking to Lake Annette

As with any Banff hike so you should be prepared with layers and proper hiking gear. Check out our list of Banff 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.

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Don’t go hiking in Banff without reading our post about essential hiking gear in Banff National Park.

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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.