Want to scramble up a mountain but not spend a whole day on the trail? The Tower of Babel Hike is probably your best option. Not far from the famous Moraine Lake, there is a small tower just as popular for scramblers and climbers alike. The Tower of Babel is impressive, not for its height; its summit, at an altitude of 2360 meters, can be reached in less than two kilometres. The path, although short, is a very memorable hike.
About the Tower of Babel Hike
The trail to the summit of the Tower of Babel is mostly a scramble through a gully.
- distance: 3 kilometres
- elevation gain: 520 meters
- altitude: 2360 meters
- estimated time: 2 hours
Although the climb is short in distance, it is not, by any means, an easy trail. The tower’s summit is a large plateau that offers fantastic views of Moraine Lake, the ten peaks and Mount Temple.
Save it for later.
Access to the Tower of Babel
The trailhead is at the famous Moraine Lake, near the picnic area.
The shuttle from Lake Louise will be a good option. Although online reservations are possible on the Lake Louise website, be prepared to wait in line for your return trip. Parks Canada also runs a shuttle many times per day. As of 2023, the road to Moraine Lake will be closed to personal vehicles. Therefore, public transportation or bu shuttle is the only way to get to the lake.
Check out our Essential Hiking Gear list for the items we bring with us on day hikes like this one.
After a stop, and several pictures, on the Rock Piles at Moraine Lake, we head for the trail that will lead us to the Tower of Babel. A short walk under the trees then gives way to scrambling. The tower sits on a pile of scree.
From one rock to another, we climb to the foot of the tower. Finally, we make our way to the gully on the right of the tower, which will lead us to the top. The elevation is significant, and the climb is rather technical. It is, therefore, mainly on all fours that we slowly progress up the ravine.
Hiking poles are unnecessary on this steep trail since you have to use your hands to hoist yourself up from rock to rock. I let the hikers who cross my path pass before setting off again since the rocks slide down the slope under our feet. It is suggested to wear a helmet to protect yourself from the rocks tumbling down the mountain. It is safer to ascend on the right or left side of the gully and stay away from the middle path, where stones are more likely to tumble down.
Little by little, we move forward, and we climb up the gully. When I turn around for short but frequent breaks, I can admire the scenery, but I can’t see the foot of the tower since the slope is so steep. However, the surrounding mountains and the lake below offer stunning sights throughout the climb.
Once out of the gully, the landscape on the other side of the tower opens up and is quite impressive. The Consolation Lakes are visible in the distance between the mountains. The trail turns sharply to the left, where the top of the tower stands. A bit more hiking and scrambling are involved in making our way to the summit of the tower of Babel.
The 360 -degree views never cease to amaze. The top of the tower of Babel is a large plateau. We can walk around it to admire the landscapes from all sides. Right in the middle of the plateau is a small living room fitted with a sofa, a chair, a coffee table and a television set, all in stone, of course, and very uncomfortable.
Several cairns have been erected here and there all around the plateau. Lake Moraine is visible at the base of the tower.
After thoroughly enjoying the tower’s summit and the views, it’s time for the descent. The return route is the same. After reaching the top of the gully, we make our way inside and, little by little, from one rock to another, wander down the tower. As I had hoped, the descent was much less scary than I had anticipated.
After the big rocks come the talus, my feet sink into the stones like in the snow, which triggers, with each step, an avalanche of small rocks tumbling down the mountain. It is easier and much faster here to descend while practicing scree running.
Scree running involves running on the scree heels first and sliding down with the rocks, much like skiing or snowboarding (or even surfing) but on rocks instead of snow. I must say that after a few meters, I gain confidence, and I enjoy sliding down the mountain!
Once at the bottom, I look back at this beautiful imposing tower and smile!
Want More Scrambles in the Rockies?
- Pyramid Mountain Hike in Jasper
- Scramble up to Mount Temple’s Snowy Summit
- Hiking Guide to Mount Rundle’s Summit
- Hiking Guide to the Summit of Cascade Mountain
- 3 Epic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
- Phenomenal Hiking on Roche Miette
- You might be interested in this list of 27 summits for beginner peak baggers and scramblers in the Rockies
- My Guide to the ultimate road trip through the Canadian Rockies will give you plenty of hiking and outdoor adventure ideas as you explore this unforgettable region.