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.

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 Sentinel 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.

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.


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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