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Rockies :: Banff-Louise :: Little Temple

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Panoramic view of Paradise Valley from summit of Little Temple. "Big" Temple left,  Sheol/Haddo/Aberdeen right

Trip Summary

July 4, 2016

Dwarfed by its Big Brother unofficially named "Little Temple" is fantastic outing that avoids crowds on other busy trails radiating from Lake Louise and/or Lake Moraine trailheads.  Loop trip is possible and recommended. Described in Mike Potter'  "Ridgewalks in Canadian Rockies"  trip visits two sparkling back-country lakes and offers fantastic views of Paradise Valley from the summit.  Technically it is mainly off-trail hike with couple of brief class 2 steps and some easy route-finding.  There are many larches on the west ridge above Lake Annette as well as in Temple Lake cirque, so trip might be superior option to busy and over-hyped "Larch Valley" above Moraine Lake.


Start from Paradise Valley trailhead, few kilometers along Moraine Lake road; parking lot is on west (right) side.  Follow well defined trail to Annette Lake for about 1.5 hours of moderate to fast pace.  All junctions have official park signposts. Note that "group of 4 rule" kicks in after July 12 - for full details always check Parks Website.   Ascent ridge and objective is visible from Annette north shore.  Walk around the lake then angle up scree slope towards west ridge.  There are 2 options - less technical is to circle around to the right then follow long and tedious talus slope rising towards low saddle separating Big and Little Temple.  More pleasant option is to gain the ridge right away; there is some scrambling required, but it is mostly easy and steepest part is right at the beginning.  Higher up as terrain levels angle left and pick-up faint trail through larch forest.  If you lose the trail just aim up as direction is obvious.  Above the treeline final bit is hike up talus and broken ground to west and higher of 2 summits.  Views are phenomenal to say the least, but towering NE aspect of "Big Temple" steals the show.  Big steep snow gully is called "Anderson Couloir" -- it almost begs for some of these crazy skier movies found on YouTube!


For loop descent to Temple Lake retrace your steps back to the col, then angle down grassy gully towards the lake.  You lose ~450m vertical in the process. This gully is quite steep and might be slippery after the rain - hiking poles are huge asset.  Alternatively it is also possible to drop between 2 summits of Little Temple, then trash down directly talus towards the lake.  This is more lose and unpleasant so it can't be recommended.  Temple Lake is fantastic - sitting in larch dotted cirque, very quiet and still unspoiled.  In fall season when larches are turning gold mid morning on a bluebird day would offer fantastic photographic opportunity.  In summer meadows east of the lake are dotted with wildflowers and equally pleasant!   Pick up faint trail at east end of the lake. It is marginal but generally follows north end of creek draining Temple Lake.  In about 20-30 minutes it descends to wide and well defined Moraine Lake trail, sometimes also used by mountain bikers.  (Note that this junction is not obvious if you are doing loop in reverse and coming here for the first time. Use GPS track provided at top of this page;  this junction is at the bridge over "Temple Creek" some 30 - 40 minutes past the junction with Paradise Valley trail).  Turn left and hike out back to your vehicle.


Lower part of ascent ridge at far side of Lake Annette
Climbing above Lake Annette with views of Aberdeen group

Zoom on upper part of Paradise valley; Horseshoe Lakes center left

Little/Big Temple col and Anderson Couloir
Little TempleLittle TempleHikers on Little Temple scramble ridge with low clouds descending from Mt. Temple

High Res: 5472 x 3648, 10.6 MB
Price: 18 USD
Hikers on Little Temple with clouds lifting up
View NE toward Louise area from west summit
Descending steep grassy gully towards Temple Lake
Temple LakeTemple LakeAlpine Lake below Mount Temple, 3rd highest in Southern Rockies (3544m), along scramble route to Little Temple. More info

High Res: 5417 x 3611, 15.6 MB
Price: 16 USD
Temple Lake under east ridge of Mt. Temple



Overall Difficulty D5 Brief class 2 scrambling above Annette Lake.  Occasionally lose talus. Steep grassy slope on drop to Temple Lake
Snow Factor S4 Loop descent via Temple Lake not feasible in winter conditions - avalanche danger.  Snowshoe via Annette Lake could be done in right conditions, but trip would be longer as Moraine Lake road is not plowed
Scenery Two sparkling back-country lakes. Towering Mt. Temple.  Panoramic views of Paradise valley, Louise area peaks and across Bow Valley east of Trans-Canada Highway
Trail/Marking Excellent / Poor Official Park trail with signposts to Lake Annette; marginal trail afterwards.  Some route-finding in bushy area on west ridge of Little Temple.  Light bushwhack on descent down Temple Lake drainage, but direction is obvious.
Suggested Time 6-7 hr Approach via Paradise Valley / Annette Lake and return via Temple Lake.  Doing the loop in opposite direction would require slightly more time, as you must ascend steep slope above Temple Lake.
Elevation Start: 1720m     Max: 2650 m    Total: ~1020 m Round Trip: ~20 km 
Gear Full hiking boots. Hiking poles very helpful for stability in grassy gully above Temple Lake.
Water No water between Lake Annette and Temple Lake. Carry 1.5 - 2L
Dog Friendly Yes Keep dogs on leash on busy Lake Annette trail.  Prime grizzly bear territory