#21 – Canadian Rockies Day Hikes: Consolation Lakes Trail
- Location: Banff National Park (Moraine Lake Area)
- Trailhead: Consolation Lakes
- Type: Out-n-Back
- Rating: Moderately-Difficult
- Total Distance: 5.5 miles
- Trailhead Elevation: 6,180′
- Total Elevation Gain: 654’
- Recommended Time: 2 – 3 hours
- Recommended Season: Early-July to Late-September
Consolation Lakes Trail
While Moraine Lake is a must-see when in the Canadian Rockies it can feel a bit like a zoo because of the large crowds. For a more secluded and yet still uniquely wonderful hike in the Moraine area of Banff National Park, set out on a journey on the Consolation Lakes Trail. The trail explores two very beautiful lakes that are in close proximity to one another but are vastly different. While both lakes are beautiful, the much more difficultly accessed second lake is one of the most gorgeous lakes in the Canadian Rockies.
The First Consolation Lake
Accessing the first Consolation Lake is a relatively easy stroll in the park. The journey is along a well-established trail through a dense evergreen forest for less than 2-miles. At first, the trail will most likely be very crowded as it shares the path to the Rockpile which is one of the best spots to take in Moraine Lake. However, once past the turn off to the Rockpile, the crowds will mostly melt away. The first Consolation Lake has decent reflective views of the mountainous landscape, but it is the second lake that puts this trail on the list of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies.
The Second Consolation Lake
Those seeking the best reflective views of glaciated jagged peaks in the Canadian Rockies should head for the second Consolation Lake. While the two lakes are seemingly adjacent on the map, accessing the second’s lakeshore is much harder. Once arriving at the first Consolation Lake, the Consolation Lakes Trail becomes a nondescript path through a boulder field strewn with stones the size of smart cars. The path ahead is nearly impossible to decern through this section. You’ll go to the right of the first lake to get to the second lake. Adding to the challenge, this area holds snow well into the summer making it even more difficult to navigate until late summer. While it is challenging and comes with some inherent danger due to the loose, bouldery and snow-covered terrain, this path has almost no elevation gain.
Fog on Mount Babel
The most nerve-racking part for me was that the mountainside of Mount Babel was covered in fog when I was traversing the boulder field below. I would hear ice and rocks cracking and breaking loose from the cliffs above and sliding down the mountainside. I would freeze in place staring into the fog fully expecting a landslide to come crashing down on me at any moment. This happened several times, making my progress towards the second lake painfully slow. Luckily, all the slides stopped before reaching the fog line and I made it safely across with nerves only slightly rattled.
Beautiful & Remote
For those who venture to the second Consolation Lake, marvelous reflective views of the surrounding glaciated mountains await. The stunning Quadra Mountain reflecting in the still waters is one of the best scenes in the Canadian Rockies. If you are up to the challenge, I would even recommend heading to the area before the snow finishes melting as I witnessed several small avalanche slides off the cliffs of Quadra Mountain in early July.
To make this experience even better hikers who venture to this remote lake will most likely have it to themselves. Actually, you might have to share it with some large wildlife. I found a lot of fresh bear scat right on the shoreline so make sure you are traveling with bear spray.