We were thrilled that we were able to snag a coveted campsite at Lake Louise for 2 nights during our summer vacation to the Canadian Rockies. Lake Louise is a picturesque glacial lake with a colossal turn of the century hotel overlooking the lake. It’s a must see scenic spot in the Canadian Rockies. This hike starts at the parking lot for Lake Louise. Parking logistics for this hike can be a bit of a pain in the height of summer.
There is extremely limited parking available for day hikers at Lake Louise. However there is a shuttle that leaves from the village center down by the highway. The shuttle does have some drawbacks like the last return trip is 5pm and we weren’t sure with a late start that we would be able to make that. Instead we chanced that we would be able to snag a spot at Lake Louise. When we arrived at Lake Louise they don’t allow you to linger and if the lot is full they turn you right back down the hill which is what happened to us. We ended up parking at at a picnic day use lot down the hill adding a little over 2 miles to our hike.
We made quick work up the road and finding a scenic side trail that linked up to the parking lot. As soon as you reach the shores of Lake Louise you are greeted by the Fairmont Chateau and the brilliant turquoise blue of the lake. In the summer there are also hordes of tourists with selfie sticks. Despite the massive crowds the lake is still beautiful. The hike to Big Beehive begins at the base of Lake Louise.
The Fairmont Chateau Hotel will be to your right with the lake to your left. Continue toward the junction for the Lake Agnes Trail, keep right toward Lake Agnes. The trail steadily climbs until you reach Mirror Lake with a few peek a boo views of Lake Louise below. Although small, the lake’s emerald water creates a picturesque scene.
From Mirror Lake, the trail steepens and switchbacks up to Lake Agnes. Lake Agnes is a small but beautiful alpine lake where we stopped to eat our lunch. It’s a bustling area despite the steep hike to reach it because of the teahouse that sits right above the shore. The teahouse is cash only (US and Canadian) and is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm during the summer and early fall months. The wait for to-go drinks was horrendous but as we picked our way closer to the teahouse we found a table had just cleared and so we sat down for chai tea, hot chocolate, scones and jam. It was a delicious snack to warm up before heading out again to enjoy the Lake Agnes views and continue the hike.
From the teahouse continue along the western shoreline of Lake Agnes. The trail begins to climb at the south end of the lake. Here the trail significantly steepens. Climb the switchbacks until you reach Big Beehive. Big Beehive offers incredible views of Lake Louise below and it’s surrounding peaks and glaciers. We decided to make it a loop hike and retraced our steps to the saddle overlooking Lake Agnes and turned left towards Lake Louise.
It’s a steep down and the trail will eventually meet up with Mirror Lake again. From Mirror Lake we quickly retraced our steps back to Lake Louise. It was an overcast day so we didn’t linger long on the shores of Lake Louise but headed back to our car down the road. The hike was busier than I was hoping for but the views are tremendous from the Big Beehive and the snacks at Lake Agnes Teahouse are delicious. Definitely worth it if you’re in the area.
Distance: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 2800 feet