The Larch Valley hike near Lake Louise has been something Mike and I have been talking about doing for years, so this fall we finally decided to make it happen. Wow, had we been missing out all this time! The Lake Louise area is a special place any time of year, but it shines just a little brighter when the larch trees are decked out in their fall colours.
In autumn, larch tree needles turn a brilliant golden yellow before they fall to the ground in preparation for the winter. It's quite the sight to see, especially against a backdrop of rugged mountain peaks and white glaciers.
While there are many great places to see the larch trees in Banff National Park, the most well known is probably Larch Valley. We decided the Larch Valley hike would be best for us since it was not far from to the village of Lake Louise, where we were staying. We were starting our hike late in the day (around 4 pm), so we wanted something that would only take a few hours and wasn't too difficult. Plus, I'm a huge fan of Moraine Lake, where the trail starts.
Over the next 3.5 hours we enjoyed spectacular mountain vistas, peaceful alpine meadows, fresh mountain air, sparkling lakes, and of course, the fiery colours of the larch trees. Oh, and I can't forget about the great people we met! Here's a short recount of our hike to Larch Valley and a look at some (okay, a lot) of the beautiful scenes along the way!

The Larch Valley Hike
Our hike to Larch Valley started along the shoreline of MORAINE LAKE, one of Banff’s most beloved lakes. At the trailhead there was a warning sign that bears were in the area, so as a safety precaution, hikers were required to travel in groups of four or more. There were rangers further up the trailhead turning back people who were not with a larger group. We had no problem forming a group of four. It’s a popular hike so there were already some people waiting for another person to join them.
After some quick introductions, we set off with our new friends for the day towards Larch Valley. The hike started by passing through a densely forested area, which every so often thinned out just enough for us to get a glimpse of the glacial blue waters of Moraine Lake. The path ascended quickly up into higher altitudes, along numerous lengthy switchbacks. This was the most challenging part of the hike, especially since our group was moving at a quick pace. Although I had to really push myself to keep up with the group, it all was worth it when the first larch tree came into view.
As we got higher and higher, more larch trees started to appear. Soon our pace slowed down, as we all couldn’t help but take photo after photo of these beautiful trees. Continuing a little further up the path, it wasn’t long until the forest opened up and we found ourselves standing in Larch Valley. The famous Ten Peaks served as the perfect background for layers upon layers of vibrant larch trees. I didn’t really know where to focus my attention because there were so many great views!