The best hike to see golden larches in Banff National Park is the Healy Pass Trail, which starts from Sunshine Village, only a 19 minute drive from Banff Town.
Healy Pass is an amazing hike to see golden larches in Banff because it is not as busy during larch season as some of the other trails, and it offers amazing mountain views as well as beautiful golden larches. The Healy Pass hike is also very diverse, with little rivers and bridges every so often, a beautiful mossy floored forest, grassy meadows, and incredible views.
Another cool thing about Healy Pass is that there is a backcountry campground in the middle of the trail, which gives you a glimpse into backcountry camping if you have never tried it before!
Healy Pass Details:
- Elevation Gain: 655m
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: Just under 18 km round trip
- Trailhead: Starts at Sunshine Village
- Difficulty: Rated as difficult because of endurance
What to Bring on Your day Hike:
- Snacks & water
- Layers (it’s cold at the summit)
- Good shoes
- Your camera because it’s beautiful the whole way
Other Hikes to see Larches in Banff:
LARCH VALLEY FROM MORAINE LAKE
This hike is EXTREMELY popular. You need to either get to Moraine Lake SUPER early (the parking lot fills up before 5:30 am) or book a spot in advance on the Moraine Lake shuttle.
At Taylor Lake, there is an unofficial trail through larch meadows, which makes it a perfect hike to see larches in Banff.
BIG BEEHIVE FROM LAKE LOUISE
This hike has some larches, but also offers incredible views of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains.
For even more larch hikes in Banff National Park, check out this post from Banff & Lake Louise, which goes into more detail with 8 Larch Hikes in Banff National Park.
Tip: Healy Pass is also an incredible hike to see wildflowers during wildflower season.
Other Good Things to Know About Hiking in Larch Season:
WHEN IS LARCH SEASON IN ALBERTA?
Larch season in Alberta & Banff National Park starts mid-September and ends usually in early October. There is a very small window to enjoy the golden larches while on a hike before all of their needles fall, so make sure to be flexible and visit during this time.
BE PREPARED FOR THE WEATHER
The weather in Banff National Park can change unexpectedly. The day can be super sunny and warm, and then clouds can roll in and it can randomly start snowing. Make sure to bring enough layers so that you are prepared! I always pack a toque and little gloves when hiking in Banff, even if it’s summertime.
WATCH FOR WILDLIFE
It is rutting season for elk from mid-August to October, which means elk are breeding and males can be a bit more aggressive. Bears are also preparing for winter, so they may be less aware of their surroundings than normal. Just be aware of this and respect the animals if you see any.
Have you done a hike to see the larches in Banff National Park before? If so, which hike, and what was your experience? If not, what larch hikes are on your bucket list?
* SAVE THIS POST BY PINNING ANY OF THE IMAGES ABOVE
- Banff National Park Bucket List
- Hiking Big Beehive, Lake Agnus, & Little Beehive in Banff
- How to get to the Suspension Bridge in Kananaskis, AB
Hey! I’m Kat. Based in Alberta, Canada I love to travel to the Rockies and explore new places around the world. Follow along on my adventures and find inspiration and tips for your own travels.