While fall in the Bow Valley is beautiful, it’s tragically short-lived. When the valley turns golden, and the leaves begin to fall, you must jump into action and seek out some of the best views of golden larch trees. While Alberta may not have a full spectrum of fall colours like they do in Ontario or B.C., our claim to fame is the larches, and we want to help you see as many as possible.
We’ve rounded up a list of some of the best hikes in Canmore and the surrounding areas for larch tree viewing, and we hope you’ll use it as your fall bucket list. This list has a range of lengths and difficulties, so we’re sure you’ll find something that fits what you’re looking for. Have fun, take photos, and tag us if you do!
This stunning hike can be found in Lake Louise. It begins at Moraine Lake and is one of, if not the most, popular larch hikes in the area. With moderate difficulty and a length of about 9 km, this is a fairly accessible hike that should take you about three and a half hours in total. You will find yourself in a literal forest of golden larch trees, which you can experience up close and view from various vantage points throughout the journey. You’re going to love this one.
Another incredible hike near Lake Louise, Saddleback Mountain, is an 8.4 km hike that is considered to be fairly challenging. There’s a good amount of elevation gain, and it will take you around 4 hours to complete. It’s a well-maintained trail with less traffic than you’d find in Larch Valley. As you approach the saddle, you’ll be greeted with vibrant larches and jaw-dropping views from above the valley.
This is a longer hike that’s about 17 km in length and is considered to be quite challenging. It takes over 5 hours to complete and has a good amount of elevation gain, so be prepared for a bit of a grind. That said, it definitely belongs on your fall bucket list because there are so many larch trees in this area. As you climb, be sure to turn back and take a look at Temple and Victoria mountains to elevate your journey even further.
This hike is 9.3 km long and takes around 4 hours to complete. Though, it’s an ideal location because you are immediately greeted with Vista Lake just a short while into the hike, which is a destination in its own right. If you don’t want to complete the entire hike, you can just continue past Vista until you reach a lookout point where you can get a view from above of Vista Lake and the surrounding fall colours. If you want to do the full thing, you’ll find the enchanting Arnia Lake at the end, which is the perfect place to enjoy lunch and the gorgeous scenery.
This 9.8 km hike is near Kananaskis Improvement and is incredibly popular around fall. While it is challenging and includes some serious elevation gain, you better believe the views are worth it. You can make this hike shorter and return after the first peak. We promise you will not feel like you’re missing out if you choose this option. The larch trees are stunning; you won’t believe how many peaks you get to see, and the entire journey is simply unforgettable.