You should carry bear spray everywhere in Banff. The Tea House does run out of tea, which can be a bummer.
The hike starts at the Lake Louise
parking area and fancy resort at Fairmont Chateau. As a result, it can be very crowded - parking could fill up on busy weekends.
is a classic Banff-area lake with its uniquely beautiful blue colors. Join the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail
(also known as the Lakeshore Trail
at the beginning) on the northern corner of the lake in front of the resort. This trail will take you along the edge of Lake Louise
and starts off very flat, wide, and family friendly. Once you reach the southwest end of the lake, the trail converts to a more basic, but still nicely maintained, singletrack (Plain of Six Glaciers Trail
). The crowds will dissipate the further you get from the resort.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail
begins to climb steadily but never steeply from the lake. You'll get some excellent views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Parts of the trail can go along ledges, but remain comfortable. There is also a trail used by donkeys to supply the tea house that weaves with the main trail. Once you reach the tea house, you can stop for a refreshing tea and snacks. You could head back from here, or continue along the trail to get much better views of all the glaciers.
The trail past the tea house is less well-maintained and is rockier. It will go for another kilometer or so and then more or less end on a moraine with great views of the glaciers and an Alpine Club of Canada hut. When it warms up, you may get to see a small avalanche from this safe vantage point.
Head back north and down the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail
, but about half way take a left on the Highline Trail
to Mirror Lake. This trail will gently regain some elevation and enter a dense forest. At points, you'll get some different views of Lake Louise
and excellent views of Fairview Mountain.
The trail will head north around Devils Thumb and join the Mirror Lake Connector
trail. Mirror Lake is tiny, but a pretty spot to enjoy a snack (unless it's raining like when we were there, then it is a good spot to stop and get out some coats). You could lengthen the hike by connecting with the Big Beehive Trail
. Otherwise, continue on the Lake Agnes Trail
which gently leads down to the trailhead.
We saw a porcupine which was really cool.
The Tea House was built in the 1930's by Swiss mountaineers that were exploring the area.