With four mountain lakes and extensive larch forest, the hike to Gibbon Pass from the Vista Lake parking lot is a good choice for strong hikers on a golden larch pilgrimage.
Despite the mist, rain, sleet and snow pellets, it was definitely worth hiking at Lake O'Hara during golden larch season and we hope to do it again (in better weather) some time over the next few years. On the advice of Parks Canada staff, we covered about 9 km, hiking up the Lake Oesa trail, across the Yukness Ledges and then - after a bit of time exploring the Opabin Plateau - down East Opabin trail.
One of our favourite destinations during wildflower season, Grizzly Peak is also a solid option for larch season. Less well-known than the crowded trails around Lake Louise, it's a half-day hike that's easy to extend with a ridge walk or an exploration of Pocaterra Cirque.
While Sunshine is most well-known for skiing, the summer gondola and shuttle bus service make Sunshine Meadows one of the most accessible alpine hiking areas in the Canadian Rockies from late June through late September. For some, its a starting point for backpacking adventures to Mt. Assiniboine or the Egypt/Pharoah Lakes area. For dayhikers like us, prime times to visit Sunshine Meadows are during peak wildflower season (usually towards the end of July) and peak larch viewing season (usually towards the end of September). Our most recent larch season visit was timed just about perfectly and reaffirmed that it's well worth the effort to do at least one golden larch hike each fall.
Up near Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country, Arethusa Cirque is an easy hike with a couple of options to make it shorter or longer as your fitness or schedule permits. It's a good choice for wildflower season, since the trail crosses an expansive meadow that erupts into bloom at just the right time of year. It's also a decent option for larch season. We've hiked here 8 or 9 times and are still discovering new aspects of the landscape, which includes small waterfalls and a rock field with plenty of fossils.