Eiffel Lake is a great hike if you are looking for something to do around Moraine Lake at the moderate level. It has elevation, great views, and lake destinations, with just enough distance to feel like it was “a real hike”. The hike is 12.2 km total with 609 meters of elevation.
However, Moraine Lake has become a notoriously difficult area to get into, thanks to influencer pictures taken at the lake. To do this hike, my friends and I got up at 3 to be on the road before 4 am. Though we got there just after 6 am, the parking lot was basically full. We gathered our things and joined the crowds at the Rockpile to watch the sunrise over the lake. The view is truly spectacular, so it is not surprising that this has become such a sought out destination in Banff. If you are hoping to hike here though, and don’t wish to catch the sunrise (or wake up at 3 am), I suggest taking the shuttle. There are shuttles from the Lake Louise overflow parking lot that stop at both Lake Louise, Moraine, and a bus that travels between the two. The tickets are about $8.00 per person, so they won’t break the bank.
Once you arrive at the lake (either by car or shuttle), you can take in the views of Moraine via the Rockpile, which is exactly what it sounds like. Follow the trail behind the rocks (on your left side as you approach the lake from the parking lot), and you’ll find the stairs that bring you up and over the rocks safely. From there you can get a great view of the lake and take some beautiful pictures.
If you have already admired the lake or simply are not interested in climbing the rockpile, you can start the hike. The trail follows along the right side of the lake, passed the lodge and the cabins. The beginning of the trail follows the same path as Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. Shortly after you pass the canoe rental shop, there is a junction on the right side of the path. Take this path leading up and away from the lake.
This path continues through the forest for a while before you reach the end of the first switchback. These switchbacks start short and get longer as you climb. There are ten in total, and at the top of the final switchback you will find a bench and another junction.
Make sure to take the path to Eiffel Lake from this point. The Eiffel lake path is left of the Sentinel Pass/Larch Valley, and continues along the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The last 3 km of the hike are relatively flat. When the trail exits the forest, you get to enjoy some incredible views all around.
One other element that made this hike exceptional, was our marmot encounters! We across a number of these fuzzy creatures, sunbathing on the rocks and watching us make our journey. One even followed us for a little.
We reached the lake, a small but deep glacier-feed pool. We climbed down part of the slope to find a good spot for lunch but didn’t climb all the way to the lake. The whole area is covered in various sizes of rock, ranging from pebbles to boulders, so it is important to watch your step. As it was the beginning of August, the weather was exceptionally warm, so both heat and flies were a bit of a bother. Shade is possible to find, however, and the hike up and down are within the shelter of the forest so they are not too brutal in terms of the summer sun.
The hike back was very hot, and our energy levels were waning after waking up so early. Keep in mind that when hiking with an early start, the weather for your hike down might be very different. For us, a cooler start gave way to a very hot day, as we hiked down around noon. Make sure to bring enough water and lots of layers.