Moraine Lake in Banff Canada is stunning with shockingly blue water surrounded by rugged mountains. The top of the list of the best things to do at Moraine Lake is to hike to the top of the Rockpile Trail and along the Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail.
These short and generally easy trails offer the best views of the area. The Rockpile Trail is a short climb to the best Moraine Lake lookout. After taking in the view, enjoy an easy walk along the shoreline.
In this article we’ll share the details of how to hike the Rockpile Trail and details on the Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail. We’ll also give general information on the Moraine Lake shuttle and suggestions of other things to do in Moraine Lake.
It you are looking for more information on visiting Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, check out our one day guide.
Overview of the Rockpile Trail and Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail
Distance: 2.4 miles Elevation: minimal (All Trails lists the elevation as 650 feet - this is not accurate) Difficulty: Easy to Moderate Time: 1-1.5 hours * these distances include both the Rockpile Trail and Shoreline Trail. The Rockpile Trail on its own is about 0.5 miles. You do no need to walk the entire Shoreline Trail to enjoy the views.
We recommend starting with the Rockpile Trail, this offers an excellent viewpoint out across Moraine Lake.
From the parking lot, the Rockpile Trail is on the left and well marked. The trail is easy walking but ascends gradually to the top of the pile of rocks that originally formed Moraine Lake. There are several viewing areas and lots of places to get a classic Moraine Lake photo.
Return to the parking lot and following along the shoreline to the Shoreline Trail. The trail is easy walking and mostly flat and follows the Shoreline. There are many places to walk down to the waterfront, relax or have a snack.
The trail ends at the far end of the lake and you can see the glacial water trickling through the forest into the lake. Turn around here and retrace your steps back to the Trailhead.
You can see complete details on this hike and our experience on the trail below.
Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail and Rockpile Hike Map
Things to Know About Visiting Lake Moraine
Best time to Visit Moraine Lake
The best time to visit Moraine Lake is after the snow melts in the spring (late May) to September. The road to Moraine Lake closes in mid-October and you won’t be able to access the lake after the road closes.
Each month the colors of the lake and the snow cover on the mountains changes, offering new and beautiful perspectives.
The best time of day to visit Moraine Lake is early in the morning when the trails are less crowded.
How to get to Moraine Lake
You can no longer drive your car to Moraine Lake. The only way for getting to Moraine Lake is to take a tour or to make a Moraine Lake shuttle reservation. It is also possible to hike or bike to Moraine Lake, but both these options are long and challenging.
You can book the Moraine Lake Shuttle through Parks Canada. To take the shuttle to Moraine Lake. Park at the park and ride and take a shuttle to Lake Louise (you will need to select a specific time). From Lake Louise, catch the shuttle to Moraine Lake.
When we visited in the summer of 2023, we took at 7 am shuttle to Lake Louise and then waited until 8 am for the first shuttle to Moraine Lake. This Moraine Lake shuttle schedule may change in the future, but the morning shuttles were definitely less crowded.
It is also possible to take a guided tour to Moraine Lake.
Details of Our Hike up the Rockpile and Along the Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail
We visited Moraine Lake and hiked to the Rockpile overloon and the Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail during the summer of 2023. Since we were spending a full day at both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, we decided to spend the morning at Moraine Lake and the afternoon at Lake Louise.
We took the first shuttle of the day to Moraine Lake on the Park Canada shuttle service.
After arriving we started with a hike up to the Rockpile. This trail was easy and follows several small switchbacks to the top of the short rock pile. Our teens and younger kids had no problem with the trail and we were able to get some incredible views of the lake.
The lake does change color significantly in the sun, so if you arrive earlier you may want to walk to Shoreline Trail first and the lake is partly shaded at this time of the day.
After taking about a million photos, we made our way back down to the parking lot. There is a place to get some basic food in the parking lot and a cup of coffee if you need it. There are also restrooms.
Follow the trail along the edge of the lake towards the canoe rental area. If you have time, this is a great thing to do at the lake although the canoe rental is expensive. Since we were a group of 6 people, we decided to skip renting boats and do the hike instead.
The shoreline trail passes the rental center and follows along the shoreline in and out of the forest. There are many areas where you can directly access the shoreline. We spent time walking down to the shore to skip some rocks and walk along the trees on the shoreline.
If you have time, stop for a picnic lunch or snack along the shore and enjoy watching the canoes and shifting sunlight across the water.
The trail is easy walking and we completed the walking part of the trail in just about 1 hour plus some extra time to eat some lunch. The end of the lake is the least travelled but still easy walking and the shoreline trail ends at the end of the lake where the glacier water flows into the lake. The end of the lake offers a different perspective back towards the rock pile but isn’t quite as stunning as the view from the other end.
After you finish the walk, turn around and return to the trailhead, or continue further along one of the other trails in the area.
Other Moraine Lake Things to Do
here’s a list of top things to do at Moraine Lake:
- Canoeing and Kayaking: Rent a canoe or kayak to explore the brilliant turquoise waters of Moraine Lake up close, surrounded by awe-inspiring mountain scenery.
- Larch Valley Hike: If you are looking for another hike, consider hiking to Larch Valley, particularly stunning during the fall when the larch trees turn golden.
- Photography: Capture the breathtaking beauty of Moraine Lake’s turquoise waters, surrounding mountains, and stunning reflections.
- Picnicking: Bring a picnic and enjoy a meal by the lakeside, taking in the tranquil atmosphere and incredible natural scenery.
- Relax by the Shore: Find a cozy spot along the shoreline to relax, read a book, or simply soak in the peaceful ambiance of the lake and mountains.
- Guided Tours: Join guided interpretive programs to learn about the geological, ecological, and cultural significance of Moraine Lake while exploring the area.
- Enjoy Sunrise or Sunset: Many people come to see sunset or sunrise. Note that it may take several hours for the sun to reach the lake in the morning. We arrived just after 8 am and while we missed sunrise, we did get to see the light reach the lake.
Common Questions about Moraine Lake
Can you visit Moraine Lake in Winter?
The road to Moraine Lake closes in October and you won’t be able to visit Moraine Lake.
Can you Swim in Moraine Lake?
You can swim in the lake although the water is VERY COLD as it comes directly from glaciers in the moutains.
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