Lake Louise Alberta hiking: Lake Agnes Tea House

The wilderness surrounding Lake Louise, Alberta may be the most stunningly beautiful in the greater Banff-Lake Louise area. And if you’ve been to Banff, you know that’s saying something. Plenty of backcountry treks depart from Lake Louise and its next-door neighbor, Lake Moraine, making Lake Louise Alberta hiking some of the best in the Canadian Rockies. Our favorite–to the Lake Agnes Tea House–is also one of the most family-friendly. Side note: does this photo even look real? I assure you it is!

Lake Louise hiking

The ascent to Lake Agnes is just that…an ascent. Hikers start at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and take the well-marked Lake Agnes trail, which climbs for the entire 3.5 km. (This is good news for the hike back, of course.) The way may be steadily uphill, but it’s not unmanageable for kids, and because the entire trip is only 7 km, families can take their time.

The first section of the trail parallels Lake Louise, but without the views: the way is dense forest. Once the end of the lake is reached, however, the forest clears for nice views of the far end of Lake Louise before the trail turns into a short series of switchbacks. This takes hikers to a stop at tiny Mirror Lake, then to a turnoff for Little Beehive. Turn here for a fairly easy ascent to a nice viewpoint of the valley, including great views of Lake Louise in her entirety. If you go this route, simply backtrack after checking out the Little Beehive view and return to the turnoff. If you opt to continue on to Lake Agnes, the trail takes you back into the forest for a short distance to a cascading waterfall and set of wooden stairs leading to the lake and tea house.

Beehive from Mirror Lake

The Lake Agnes Tea House sits perched directly on the edge of the lake, with spectacular views of the big Beehive (a beehive-shaped slab of rock you cannot miss) and the mountain crags surrounding the small lake. Take a few minutes to sit at a table on the Tea House deck to take in the view, or head inside the cozy dining room with wood-burning stove to order a pot of tea or French pressed coffee. Kids can order hot chocolate or cider, and if you arrive at lunch time, the Tea House has a selection of sandwiches, soups, and bakery goods that are made fresh daily on-site.

Lake Agnes tea house

Take a few minutes to talk with the Tea House staff; most are young men and women from around the world, working for the season, and all live on-site. All supplies (and trash) are packing in and out of Lake Agnes on foot or horseback, and staffers are very knowledgable about area hikes and peak ascents.

The Tea House is a destination in itself, but if you’re up for more hiking, take the trail around the circumference of Lake Agnes to the series of switchbacks to the Beehive lookout. This trail is short but steep, with drop-offs in some locations. The switchbacks take you to the saddle of the ridge, which you follow to the lookout structure at the edge. The saddle is wide enough that there’s no fear of falling, but it’s essential children follow directions and stay on the trail. The views are as amazing as you’d expect.

Lake Agnes

Adding either or both Beehive to your Lake Agnes hike will add approximately 2 km to your trip, but the descent back to Lake Louise is a breeze. If you’re up for even more, the longer trail to Six Glaciers (and its own tea house) connects at Lake Agnes.

Note: The Lake Agnes Tea House is open mid-April to mid-October, and takes cash only. Seasonal hours vary, but during our off-season (fall) visit, it as open 10 am to 5 pm.

For additional hiking, check out trails departing from Lake Moraine, or go to Banff Lake Louise for more info.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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