Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass
Time: 4 to 6 hours depending on fitness level.
Distance: 11 km out and back to the pass.
Elevation Gain: 535 Meters to the valley 792 total to the pass.
Access: The trail head for this hike starts at Moraine Lake, if you're in the Rockies you'll almost definitely know where this lake is or come across someone who does!
The Larch Valley is a great hike for pretty much all abilities, although stunning at all times of year the valley is best enjoyed during Autumn when the copious amounts of larch trees turn a glorious yellow. The trail is home to multiple lakes, views and wildlife, at certain times of year there are often bear advisories recommending hikers travel in groups of 4 or more. If you are hiking alone it doesn't normally take long to come across other hikers at the start of the trail head before heading up.
The trail starts with a series of switch backs through the woods, the ascent is steady throughout but there is plenty of opportunity to rest along the way if needs be. The track is well defined and regularly used, chances are you'll come across lots of other hikers when making your ascent.
Once the switch backs end you'll find yourself in the valley itself. During Spring you'll be surrounded by wild flowers and in Autumn golden larches. As you ascend further be sure to look behind where you'll be treated to views of the 10 peaks stretching into the sky, ahead you'll see Minnestimma Lakes where, at the right time of day, perfectly reflect the peaks around it. It can be truly stunning at the right time of year.
From the valley it's another 260 meters up to Senitnel Pass, it's a steep ascent but can be done in around 20 minutes for an experienced hiker. The views offered off the back towards paradise valley are worth the climb and make for a great lunch spot. If you are prepared and adventurous, from here you can make your way up to Mount Temple (this is a long, steep, technical hike so be prepared and make sure it's within your ability) or over the pass and into Paradise Valley. If you haven't planned for hiking any further simply turn back and return the way you came enjoying the views as you descend.