There is a special time of year in the heart of the Canadian Rockies when the needles of the forest-green larches turn to a beautifully bright gold. In mid to late September, hikers flock to the mountains to experience the spectacular display of golden larches across Banff National Park’s trails.
Lake Louise is one of the premier locations for larch spotting in the Rockies, so we’re breaking down some of the best tips for hiking in the golden season.
What are the best trails for larch spotting?
Larch Valley & Sentinel Pass
It should come as no surprise that the most popular hiking trail during larch season is Larch Valley at Moraine Lake. Guests of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise can book onto our Moraine Lake Shuttle (bookable through the Concierge) and hike up to the famed golden trail with minimal fuss. The trail is rated as difficult, but the reward is worth the work!
If you want to hike around Moraine Lake but are looking for a hike that is a little more low-key, Consolation Lakes is perfect. This 5.8 km out and back trail is a great family-friendly hike that offers amazing larch and lake views with minimal elevation gain.
The Lake Agnes trail head is to the right of the hotel, only minutes from your room! It is rated as moderate difficulty and is about 2.5 – 3 hours round trip. The views from this trail will leave you in awe, and the larches make the already-spectacular Lake Agnes even more jaw-dropping.
If you’re looking for a slightly more challenging hike up to see the larches, Saddleback is for you. The trail head is next to our Boathouse (to the left of the hotel, again right at our doorstep!) and brings you up into Paradise Valley where you’ll find yourself surrounded by golden larches and views for days.
Lake Louise Gondola
If you’re into larch views but would rather not hike, the Lake Louise Gondola is right up your alley! Just a short 10 minute drive across the valley you can catch a chair or gondola up the mountain for some epic golden views. Minimal work, maximum reward!
What time of year can I see the larches?
Larches will turn in mid to late September in Lake Louise and will typically keep their bright golden hue for about a week before they lose their needles for the season. The window to see them is short but the reward is oh so sweet!
How can I beat the larch crowds?
The best way to beat the crowds is to be up and at ’em to hit the trails as early as possible. We recommend hitting the trails before 8:00 AM. As a guest of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise many of the most incredible larch hikes are right at our doorstep! This means that you can grab a coffee from the Chateau Deli and be on the trail within 15 minutes of getting out of bed. How great is that?
What’s the best deal at the hotel during larch season?
If you’re a resident of Alberta, British Columbia or Saskatchewan, our Resident’s Rate will save you up to 35% on accommodation at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. If you don’t live in Western Canada, then our Together Again package will give you free parking, canoeing, breakfast and a variety of wellness experiences.