Paradise Valley and Giant Steps - Moraine Lake area

25km    830m elevation gain

This trailhead (Paradise Creek) is 2 km up the Moraine Lake road - remember the last time we hiked up here the parking lot was basically full at 6:45?  Well this time when we arrived at 6:10 I was horrified to see barriers already up at the end of the road because the parking lot had reached capacity at 5:15 am (sunrise = 6:09 FYI).  Thankfully the attendants let us through after I explained what we were doing.  Our parking lot had plenty space.

We started in light rain with thunder rolling overhead but it didn't last long.  The trail is fairly flat for the first 5 km following Paradise Creek toward Mt Temple, there are various lovely bridge crossings.  Views open up gradually.

Short steep switchbacks take you to Lake Annette at 6.3 km.  The stream to your left as you climb is tipping directly out of the lake.  

I was delighted with how beautiful and still the lake was at 8 am.  It was just us as the hikers near us kept moving.  I am easily distracted by shiny things.

After the lake another climb brought us to the edge of a boulder field and views opened right up.  


The flowers along the trail were spectacular.

As we hit the trail branch for Sentinel Pass vs Giant Steps we turned right and dropped to investigate the falls.  The entire area is beautiful and the sun picked that moment to come out fully.  

There's water coming out between the rocks all over but the main falls are really something.  The photos do not capture it as well as I would have liked, especially the scale.

Spectacular views down the valley.

This is the very top, it's fascinating to watch the water over the smooth rock.  I filled my water pack up here (I add chlorine tabs) because who can resist a cold glacier fed waterfall.  

I could definitely come back to this area.  We took the right branch toward Sentinel Pass for a change of scenery through Horseshoe Meadows.  

This would be the steepest climb of the day as we came from the valley floor to the edge of the pass.  Aren't all these wooden signs cool?

The very cute marmot welcome wagon.

We saw this pass from the other side a couple of weeks ago so it was interesting to see it from this direction. 

The very last steep part up the boulder field looks like something I would not love after already doing 15k.  We had a break instead before heading back down.

Columbine lined the trail on the descent.  As did hundreds of mosquitoes, I've never seen so many.

It was really hot by now, the sun was out and it was due to hit 30°C in the afternoon.  Behind Kev is Mt Hungabee and Ringrose Peak.  The Lake O'Hara region sits just over the mountains to the right.

We had to visit Lake Annette on the way back though it was a little busier this time, not Lake Louise busy mind you but maybe 4 sets of other people.  That felt busy by today's standard!  The blue colour was showing more in the sunshine.  

Paradise Creek was particularly nice for soaking bandanas to cool off on the way out.  

A final look at Sheol Mountain before the trees close back in.

We found a couple of one way hikers that needed a ride back to their car at Moraine so we thought it would be fun to grab some cold drinks and snackies at the Lodge since we were there anyway.  Yep, excellent plan.

This is what our day in Paradise looked like.  Lake Louise is top left.


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