Sentinel Pass

Sentinel Pass: A Majestic Hike Through the Heart of Banff National Park

Sentinel Pass is a challenging and rewarding hike located in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The trail is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, including views of towering peaks, lush forests, and sparkling alpine lakes. The hike to Sentinel Pass is considered one of the park’s most popular and exhilarating trails, and it attracts hikers from all over the world.


The name “Sentinel” is thought to have been given to the pass by early explorers, who used it as a lookout point to keep an eye on the movements of local Indigenous tribes. Later, the pass was used as a route by fur traders and explorers, who ventured into the mountains in search of new trade routes and resources.

Sentinel Pass Height

Sentinel Pass has an elevation of approximately 2,611 meters (8,566 feet) above sea level. The pass sits between the peaks of Mount Temple and Pinnacle Mountain in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. It offers hikers breathtaking views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts visiting the area.

Sentinel Pass Length

The Sentinel Pass hike is approximately 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) long. The trail begins at the Moraine Lake parking lot in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, and leads hikers through stunning alpine meadows, dense forests, and eventually to the pass itself. 

The distance may vary slightly depending on the specific route taken and any additional exploration along the way. It’s always a good idea to consult trail maps or local park authorities for the most accurate and up-to-date information before embarking on the hike.

Hike to Sentinel Pass

The hike to Sentinel Pass begins at the Moraine Lake parking lot, located approximately 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) from the town of Lake Louise. The trailhead is well-marked and begins with a gentle ascent through a forest of spruce and fir trees. As the trail climbs, it passes through a series of switchbacks, offering stunning views of the valley below.

After approximately 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles), the trail reaches Larch Valley, an alpine meadow filled with wildflowers, larch trees, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. From Larch Valley, the trail becomes steeper and more challenging, as it climbs towards the Pass.

The final ascent to the pass is a steep and rocky climb, but the reward at the top is worth it. From the summit of Sentinel Pass, hikers are treated to panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, including Mount Temple, the tallest mountain in the region.

Sentinel Pass Difficulty Level

The difficulty of Sentinel Pass can vary depending on several factors, including individual fitness level, weather conditions, and previous hiking experience.

Hikers should be prepared for uneven terrain, rocky sections, and some exposure to heights. It’s important to wear appropriate footwear, carry sufficient water, and be prepared for changes in weather conditions. Additionally, the trail can be snowy and icy in certain seasons, which adds to the difficulty level.

While the difficulty of Sentinel Pass is relative and subjective, it is generally considered to be a rewarding hike for those with a moderate level of fitness and some hiking experience. As with any outdoor activity, it’s important to assess your own abilities and be prepared before attempting the hike.

Minnestimma Lakes

For those who have the energy and time, a short detour from the Sentinel Pass trail leads to the beautiful Minnestimma Lakes. The lakes are a series of small, pristine alpine lakes, nestled in a valley surrounded by towering peaks. The lakes offer a peaceful and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the main trail, and are a great place to stop for a picnic or a swim.

minnestimma lakes banff


Banff National Park, including Sentinel Pass, is a protected area that is managed by Parks Canada. The park is committed to preserving the natural beauty of the region and protecting the wildlife that calls it home. Visitors to Sentinel Pass are asked to respect the park’s rules and regulations, including leaving no trace and staying on designated trails.

Sentinel Pass is a challenging and rewarding hike that offers hikers a chance to experience the beauty and majesty of the Canadian Rockies. Whether you are interested in hiking, picnicking, or simply admiring the view, Sentinel Pass and Minnestimma Lakes are an experience that you will never forget. So why not plan a visit to this breathtaking destination and see for yourself what makes Sentinel Pass so special?

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