Larch Valley to Sentinel Pass


Hike: Larch Valley to Sentinel Pass

Location: Banff National Park

Distance: 6.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,598 feet

Type: Out & Back

Completion Time: 3-4 Hours

Exploring Sentinel Pass via Larch Valley Trail is an amazing experience. The 6.8 mile trail starts by taking you along the side of Lake Moraine, before quickly disappearing into the mountain pass behind. The beginning of the hike sees the most dramatic elevation gain over a series of 10 switchbacks. Along the way are beautiful views of Lake Moraine from elevation, which can best be seen during winter months. Once through the switchbacks you will hike through the tremendous alpine larch trees, which during autumn turn from green to a beautiful gold. Be sure to take a left at the fork of the trail to head through Larch Valley, and on to the towering granite slabs of sentinel pass. After adventuring along a small river through the larches, you will reach a beautiful alpine pond at the top of the tree line. From here follow the skinny goat path up the pass to the trail’s end. The hike is rocky and very slippery when wet, so be sure to take your time up the last few steep pitches. The hike is difficult, with around 2600 feet elevation gain, but well worth it as the exceptional views will not disappoint. At the top of the pass be sure to reward yourself with a cold beer and some trail mix before hustling back down for warmth. This out and back hike will take between 3 and 4 hours depending on your pace, and requires proper gear to include hiking boots, water, and jacket for unexpected weather. Due to the speed of changing inclement weather, I highly suggest bringing additional layers as well as a waterproof shell. Dogs on leash are also welcomed, but please be respectful of the beautiful landscape and follow Leave No Trace Principles. More info on Leave No Trace can be found here.

Happy Trails!

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Larch Valley to Sentinel Pass