The Consolation Lakes Hike
Banff National Park, Alberta
Located in Banff National Park the hike to the Consolation Lakes is probably missed by many due to its close proximity to Moraine Lake. Before I delve into the specifics of the hike, it's worth noting that this is grizzly bear territory, and they have been seen by people on this trail before. Make sure you bring bear spray and travel in a group of 4 or more people, and you'll be fine.
Parking for the Consolation Lakes hike can be troublesome, as the trail starts at Moraine Lake. I'd recommend getting there before 7am if you want to park at the trailhead, during the week you might be lucky and get a spot afterwards, but on the weekends I'm certain you will not. Start the trail by walking towards the rock pile that goes to an overlook for the best views of Moraine Lake. Quickly you'll come across a sign that'll point you in the right direction to go for the hike to the Consolation Lakes.
Unsure of where the trail starts? Follow the sign!
An out and back type of hike, the 2.9km to the lake isn't too hard. Most of the elevation gain comes early on this hike, with most of it being a gradual incline which is easily manageable for experienced hikers, although if you're unfit you may be huffing and puffing a little bit.
There's not a whole lot of incline at the beginning, but it does gradually begin to rise about a quarter of the way through the hike.
There are some open areas that give you great views of massive boulders early in the hike as well. If you're like me, I always try to stop and admire views like these when I can.
The gradual incline can be seen here as the trail meanders through a field of rocks.
It's not a bad idea when doing this hike to make some noise here and there, in case there are any animals nearby so that they know you are there and you aren't surprising anything. Yelling "Yo Bear!" or something similar is generally what I yell, and although it sounds silly, I'd rather sound like a fool than risk a bear attack. Eventually when the trail heads back into the forest you'll come upon a creek, the waters of which are flowing from the Consolation Lakes themselves. There's some spots here that'll give you some great photos of small waterfalls and water movement.
While the waterfalls may be pretty small, they still look cool when there's a bunch of them.
When I did this hike I ran into a Marmot! near the flowing waters!
While hiking alongside the creek, the trail will begin to level out as you approach the lakes. The trees will begin to clear and give you better views of the valley, but the lakes might still be hard to see even though you are basically at the "end" of the trail.
While slightly visible, the first of the Consolation Lakes is a bit hard to see from the "end" of the trail.
From here you can scramble over the boulders to get closer to the lake, or try to get a bit higher up for greater views as well. I highly recommend having dedicated footwear for hiking when climbing up and over the boulders. If you don't have the footwear you're putting an unnecessary risk on yourself.
Looking back towards the "end" of the trail after a short bit of climbing on the large rocks.
Find a nice spot to stop once you feel like you've got a decent enough view and take in the surroundings. Start eating your lunch, snack, and relax at the lake. One of the things I really like about this lake is that even though Moraine Lake is so close to it, you don't get the tons of people flocking to it because there's a hike involved. That makes it a whole lot more relaxing and less crowded.
This is where I decided to stop and relax to enjoy the views of the Consolation Lakes.
The second lake is a bit above and hard to see from most spots by the first lake. You basically need to get right up to it to be able to see it, which I didn't opt to do when I was out there. Maybe next time I'll make my way over there, but this time I was with family from out of town and we were all satisfied with these views.
Overall this hike is a great relief from the crowds at Moraine Lake, and also gives you some cool views in the section with the creek as well. While the lake isn't as pretty as Moraine Lake, the calmness of it will lure you in and probably bring you back at some point.
Want to see a video of my hike to the Consolation Lakes? Watch below!