Banff National Park : Sentinal Pass Trail
Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada travel
The Sentinel Pass Trail in Lake Louise, Alberta
A challenging backcountry hiking route leading up to views of glaciers, snowcapped mountain peaks, hoodoos and rock slides. The adventure is located near the village of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada in the Rocky Mountains of Banff National Park .
The Sentinel Pass Trail is an alpine trail measuring 5.8 kilometres one -way with an elevation gain of about 725 metres. The Lake Louise mountain trail is considered a very difficult adventure with 3 main climbing sections on the trail with switchbacks.
The Lake Louise hiking trail should take no longer than 5-6 hours to complete. However, the trail is extremely steep and progress depends heavily on the size of the group, the fitness levels of the group and the weather conditions in the mountains.
The trailhead entrance to the Sentinel Pass Trail is the same trailhead entrance as the Larch Valley Trail. In fact the first 3.0 kilometres of the Larch Valley Trail are following along the same footsteps as the Sentinel Pass Trail.
The Sentinel Pass Trail begins from the Moraine Lake/Larch Valley Trailhead entrance at Moraine Lake. Soon after the trail begins hikers are confronted immediately with a series of long and steep continuous switchbacks for over 2 kilometres.
After the switchbacks there is a junction of the Sentinel Pass Trail (Larch Valley Trail) and the Eiffel Lake Trail. Here there is a resting bench and some level ground. It is a good spot to refuel before the next set of switchbacks exploring a forest of trees leading up into an alpine meadow.
At the top of the second set of switchbacks is Larch Valley. You are first welcomed by a foot bridge, creek and sitting area. From here you continue to explore uphill a meadow of wildflowers and massive boulders. In the distance are snow capped mountains and glaciers.
From the meadow continue hiking uphill another 1.5 kilometres to the largest of the Minnestimma Lakes and the base of the Summit Pass headwall.
At the base of the headwall there are massive boulders, glacial ponds, wildflowers and sometimes snow. Some take one look at the 1.5 kilometres of summit switchbacks leading up the headwall and decide to call it quits. Instead they lunch and sunbathe on the large boulders at the base of the headwall enjoying the views.
From the base of the headwall the switchbacks begin climbing a massive rock wall of shale (headwall) leading up to the summit of Sentinel Pass. The summit measures 2611 metres and is exposed to high winds and cool temperatures.
From the top of Sentinel Pass there are far ranging views of the Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park including the Larch Valley, Valley of Ten Peaks, Mount Temple, and Pinnacle Mountain.
It is important to remind all hikers exploring Lake Louise and the backcountry mountain regions of the Banff National Park to prepare well for unpredictable, changing weather conditions in the alpine regions.
The Larch Valley Trail begins from Moraine Lake which is also the location for other popular trails exploring the region like the Eiffel Lake, Consolation Lakes, Minnestimma Lakes, Lakeshore and Wenkchemna Pass Trails.
How to Get to Sentinel Pass Trail
Travel to Main Street (Village Road) in the community of Lake Louise, Alberta. From the village travel west on Lake Louise Drive. Near the Fairview Day Use Area there is a left turn onto Moraine Lake Road. Follow this road to the lake and the lodge. The trailhead is located along the shores of Moraine Lake near the Moraine Lake Lodge.