It’s not that I wasn’t aware that parking at Moraine Lake and Lake Louise is problematic. I just didn’t think that Moraine Lake parking lot would be full at 9:30 am on weekday. I was so wrong.
David and I originally planned to hike Eiffel Lake Trail in the Moraine Lake Area last week. As we approached the Moraine Lake Road junction around 9:30 am, we saw a sign that provided the status of parking availability that said “MORAINE LAKE PARKING LIMITED”. I thought we were lucky since it didn’t say that it was full. Turned out not to be the case. Park staff at the junction wouldn’t let us into Moraine Lake Road. He said it was full and if we wanted we could come back in about 30 minutes to check.
Disappointed, we resorted to a plan B, Plain of Six Glaciers in the Lake Louise Area. So we headed to Lake Louise parking area instead. It was nearly full too. I think if we were to arrive 30 minutes later, we wouldn’t have found a place to park at Lake Louise either.
Trail to Plain of Six Glaciers started with a walk along the north side of Lake Louise. For a more detail of this trail, you can check out this post on Banff and Beyond website. We hiked this trail in late June when there were still quite a few places with obstacles from avalanche debris.
At the end of Lakeshore Trail, we continued on Plain of Six Glaciers Trail and left Lake Louise behind. We started seeing evidence of avalanches in the valley. Unlike normal snow field, snow debris from avalanches was packed down very hard. We put microspikes over our boots to give us better traction. They worked really well on hard-packed snow. Nobody we saw on the trail had them on.
We arrived at the Tea House to find out that so many people were already there and were taking a break. After using a toilet near the Tea House, we continued on to the view point, another 1.3 km from the Tea House. The up-close view of glaciers was worth the extra distance and climb. We had lunch at the view point before returning.
On our hike back, there were even more hikers heading in. I was glad we started the hike early in the day. At some point we heard a thunderous sound. We looked up and saw that it was an avalanche from Mount Lefroy hanging glacier. It was cool to have witnessed it.
By the time we were back at the parking lot, we were pretty much done. Hot coffee from a thermos that we brought with us was a welcome post-hike refreshment.
- Date hiked: June 27, 2017
- Hiking time: 5h 52m
- Distance: Approx. 8.6 mi round-trip (out and back)
- Elevation change: Approx. 1,500 ft gain