Beautiful hikes around Moraine Lake: Sentinel Pass via Larch Valley


This is a highly popular route and it was crowded around Moraine Lake even during shoulder season. I’m sure you’ve read a lot about overflowing carparks to Moraine Lake. That is true. We drove around the area for a while and managed to get a lot when we circled back as it was getting late into the afternoon and the morning batch of visitors were just leaving then. It was probably about 2pm or so based on how late we usually start our hikes, including day hikes.

While it’s crowded around the lake, you’ll find that the crowd thins a lot after you start to get up to the valley. We were there in autumn of 2018 and the trail at higher elevation was covered in snow. In fact, it started snowing again midway into our hike.

These are slightly different pictures of Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass as you’ll see. We didn’t get to see the mountain peaks in the area but there’s a different kind of beauty and mystery nevertheless.

Moraine Lake
Getting to the quieter part of the lake.
Moraine Lake view
Moraine Lake to Sentinel Pass bridge

You’ll start to climb through switchbacks quite soon into the hike, past the lake, and will still enjoy glimpses of the beautiful turquoise lake as you head up. There’ll be a short respite from the climb after the switchbacks as the trail levels off. You’ll walk through a parade of larch trees. They were still slightly yellow when we were there, at the end of autumn, but I can imagine that the scene would be amazing right in the middle of autumn.

Larch Valley in a mist
On a less misty day, you would be able to see the landscape better. They still look amazing and majestic, although shrouded in mist.
This is the lake right before you head up the trail to Sentinel Pass.

There are switchbacks heading up Sentinel Pass and the narrow trail was completely covered in ice and snow when we were there. We had our Yaktrax on our shoes but the trail was still extremely slippery.

Sentinel Pass
Looking back down
Sentinel Pass
Admiring the winterscape around us. A pity that it was too misty for us to get a clear view of the Ten Peaks.
It was stunning and I would love to visit in summer for a totally different view.
Almost at the Pass. Looking up at Mount Pinnacle.
We didn’t get to see much of the landscape at this mountain pass, but it’s said that it gives you a view down into Paradise Valley.

On our way down to Moraine Lake, we almost went down the wrong way as there was just so much snow everywhere, the trails were deceiving. A snowman which was on the trail ‘saved’ us from going down a more treacherous way, as we recalled that we saw it on the way up and should be going around it. We realized that after going down and saw the snowman a few meters away and diagonally above us on the corner of a switchback.

Moraine Lake peeking through the trees

Heading down to Moraine Lake

We would definitely need to return to do this hike again in early autumn or late summer, to be able to get a better view of the Ten Peaks.

On Yaktraks, I think there may be better clamp-ons as the one thing I’ve experienced with the Yaktraks is that they come off the shoes very easily and they didn’t provide as much traction as we’d hoped. We’ve worn them on a few occasions while hiking in the snow and ice, and have slipped or fallen over a few times. You might say that it may have been worse if we weren’t wearing the Yaktraks so they must have helped although marginally.

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