The 10 Best Lake Louise Hikes You Can’t Miss (2020)

Lake Louise Hikes

Looking for the best Lake Louise hikes? We share the most popular hikes around the lake and share all of the details in this guide to experience the best in the region. If you want to add some more hikes to your list check out our list of the best Banff hikes.

All of these hikes start from Lake Louise and are certain to have stunning views of the stunning turquoise lake, surrounding mountains, and awe-inspiring glaciers. Any hiker who gets the opportunity to hike around Banff National Park and Lake Louise should consider themself very fortunate.

What’s also great about more of these trails is there ability to be combined, for example, we hiked Lake Agnes, Mount Niblock, Whyte, Big Beehive, and Devil’s Thumb in one day. Or another great option would be to hike the Big Beehive to the Plain of Six Glaciers for an awesome day in the mountains.



The Best Lake Louise Hikes


Fairview Lookout


Fairview Lookout Lake Louise Hikes

The Fairview Lookout trail is a short sweet hike that provides great views over the Lake Louise from some elevation. It’s quieter and less strenuous than the classic Lake Agnes Teahouse hike below so it’s a good option if you’re not up the elevation gain required for Lake Anges or just want a quick jaunt in the area.

There is a nice platform that also provides views back out to the impressive and historic Chateau Lake Louise Hotel. Don’t expect the view on the way up as its forested, but the lookout platform from the top is a lovely view worth the effort.

  • Length: 2.4 km
  • Duration: > 1 hour to 1 hour
  • Elevation Gain: 165 meters
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Best Time To Go: June – October
  • Gear Needed: Hiking Shoes, Water, Bear Spray

Lake Agnes Teahouse


Lake Agnes Teahouse Lake Louise Hikes

The Lake Agnes Teahouse hike is a popular thing to do in Banff for visitors to Lake Louise. It’s also one of the most iconic and popular hikes in all of Banff National Park and has been enjoyed by visitors for well over a century. It ends at the Lake Agnes Teahouse which has been serving visitors since 1905 when it first opened. A rustic old cabin that sits along the banks of Lake Agnes and over a rushing waterfall.

Its popularity is perhaps its only downfall as the teahouse can attract a crowd in the summer months with a line out the door. Never the less it is a classic and ends at the lovely Lake Agnes the perfect spot for lunch. This is an easy to moderate hike above Lake Louise that is suitable for all visitors to Banff.

This is an easy hike that can be done in under two hours and is an iconic thing to do in Banff. However, be warned it is a busy one! To escape the crowds (and get better views) keep climbing to the Big or Little Beehive.

  • Length: 7.6 km
  • Duration: 2 – 3 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 433 meters
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Best Time To Go: All Year, Summer Months Best
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Lunch, Layers, hiking poles, High Ankle Hiking Boots

The Plain of Six Glaciers


The Plain of Six Glaciers Lake Louise Hikes

This is an incredible hike that starts out strong with a walk along Lake Louise and finishes in an open plain of glaciers. To sweeten the deal the historic Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse is there to reward hikers with a cup of tea or a fresh-baked goodie. It’s a stunner of a hike with a whole bunch of reward vs effort.

At one point this massive valley was the convergence of six glaciers that have all since retreated due to warming temperatures. All that is left now is the monstrous debris field that will leave hikers in all of their earth shaping capability. It’s also possible to combine this hike with the Lake Agnes / Big Beehive hike for an incredible day in the mountains.


The Little Beehive


Quotes about the Mountains The Little Beehive Lake Louise Hikes

From Lake Agnes, you have two popular additions to continue your hike and gain some of the best views of Lake Louise from above. The Little Beehive despite its name is not much smaller than the Big Beehive so I wouldn’t base the two hikes on difficulty. That being said, the Little Beehive is slightly easier.

The real difference lies in how busy and the view from these two hikes. The Little Beehive sees fewer hikers and offers views over Lake Agnes and Lake Louise along with Mount Whyte and Mount Niblock. It’s a really nice hike, and I’d recommend it for anyone with the energy to escape the crowds at the Lake Agnes Teahouse.


The Big Beehive


The Big Beehive is a classic addition to the Lake Agnes Teahouse trek and well worth the effort, much like The Little Beehive. The trail to the Big Beehive extends past Lake Agnes and then climbs a ridge through a series of switchbacks to reach the top of the Big Beehive.

From there you have amazing views over Lake Louise as it’s closer to the Lake than the Little Beehive. It’s also the most popular photo spot of Lake Louise for social media, similar to the rocks as Peyto Lake.


Mount Saint Piran


If you want to continue on even further past Lake Agnes and the Little Beehive head for the summit of Mount Saint Piran. The trail follows along the Little Beehive trail until it veers off 400m from the summit of the Little Beehive. You follow a signed path through the thinning forest until you reach the alpine out of the tree line.

From there it’s a beaten path or cairns through rock fields and scree. It’s not a technical challenge, but it does require some solid physical stamina. Once you reach it’s summit though you’re rewarded with some stellar views over the area as you can see the Waputik Icefield to the North. It’s a sharp departure from the busy throngs of crowds down at Lake Louise as only a few complete the hike. You also get to claim you summited another peak in the Canadian Rockies.


Mount Fairview & Saddleback Pass


Saddleback Pass Lake Louise Hikes

This is a really great day out in the mountains for active hikers and a real gem in the Lake Louise area. You’re guaranteed stunning views on a quiet trail. The trail leaves from Lake Louise and heads up to Paradise Valley, onto Saddleback Pass, before the summit of Fairview Mountain. You’ll be surrounded by staggering peaks, larch trees, gain a high mountain pass, and summit a mountain that rewards you with stunning views of Lake Louise down below. Altogether, it’s probably one of the best Lake Louise hikes.

I wouldn’t let Fairview or St Piran detract anyone from attempting the hikes. They’re really not that difficult for anyone with decent fitness and adequately prepared with some snacks/lunch, water, and proper clothing. It gets cold on the mount summits all year round. When we summited in August it was freezing at elevation.

This hike is also a tremendous one in the larch season as the valley is full of larch trees. A great alternative, although still busy, to the famous Sentinel Pass hike. Plus the mountain is photographed by almost every visitor to Lake Louise which makes it a nice one to cross off the list, and say “I climbed that.”

  • Length: 9.2 km
  • Duration: 3 – 6 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1012 meters.
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Best Time To Go: June – October (Late September for Larch Season)
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Lunch, Layers, hiking poles, High Ankle Hiking Boots

Lake Louise Scrambles


The Devil’s Thumb


The Devil's Thumb Lake Louise Hikes
Looking down on Devil’s Thumb

While physically it’s not much harder than the Big Beehive, The Devil’s Thumb is classified as a scramble. Albeit a very easy one and a great place to start for the adventurous to test their skills. From the Big Beehive hike, this departs from the trail on the way to the overlook and heads along the ridge and then up a gully to the top of Devil’s Thumb. It’s a great choice for the adventurous looking something more out of their Lake Louise hikes.

The gully up to the top of Devil’s Thumb can be busy, steep, and contain loose rock, for this reason, we recommend wearing a helmet. You never know if an inexperienced hiker above you is going to launch a rock down the gully – hikers have been hurt here from this! It’s also why we would recommend an early morning approach or late afternoon when it’s quieter.


Mount Niblock


Mount Niblock Lake Louise Hikes

This along with Mount Whyte below are questionable Lake Louise “hikes.” Never the less for experienced hikers or scramblers they are tremendous options in the area as you’re guaranteed to escape crowds, the views are phenomenal, and it’s also a nice challenge. It’s also wild as the hike dwarfs the others in the area and provides some phenomenal views over the surrounding peaks.

When we made our scramble up the gully to summit the peaks there was only one group on the route that day, despite a packed Lake Louise. You also have the option of Mount Whyte, but due to its difficulty, I am not listing it in this post as a hike for obvious safety reasons. Anyone attempting its summit likely knows the area already.

If you do plan for this scramble please approach it with respect there is some real exposure on Mount Niblock and Mount Whyte is very very exposed. Exposure means if you fall, let go, or slip you’ll likely be seriously maimed or die. This also means carrying the right equipment which means appropriate outerwear, boots, water, food, hiking poles, GPS, and a helmet.

  • Length: 16.4 km
  • Duration: 6 – 10 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,522 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult Scramble
  • Best Time To Go: June – October
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Lunch, Layers, hiking poles, High Ankle Hiking Boots

Banff National Park

Of course, there are so many more hikes in Banff and tons of exploring. Looking for the best Banff hikes? We rank our favorite hikes around the park and share all of the details in this guide to experience the best in the park. You’ll find on these hikes in Banff high alpine passes lined with wildflowers, jagged peaks topped by glaciers, and a healthy dose of turquoise blue lakes.

The 20 Best Banff Hikes Ranked


Kananaskis Country


This list was just Banff hikes, but there is so much more in the area such as Yoho National Park and the Provincial Park Kananaskis Country. Both are home to some of our all-time favorite hikes and scrambles in the region. To learn more, we’ve got a post on our favorite hikes in Kananaskis Country here.


Advice on Banff Hikes


If this is your first time hiking in the Rockies take a conservative approach. Pick an adequate hike for your fitness, plan for plenty of time, pack water and food, and don’t be afraid to turn around. If you want to learn more about what to wear hiking we have a great post.

For long hikes, set a turn around time at the departure. Any time we set out for an objective I determine a time at which we need to turn around in order to arrive at the parking lot or campsite by dark. I would recommend not hiking in the dark as it’s easy to get lost and it’s not fun in bear country.

On that note, always carry bear spray if you plan to hike in the park. We carry ours in the neighborhood and bears have been known to stroll through town and busy parking lots. Always practice wildlife awareness when you’re on a trail, and please give animals space.

In regards to times keep in mind your mountain fitness — different than the gym. The low end of the times in this post is a constant fast pace uphill with little to no breaks and a brisk pace downhill. Most hikers should plan for a middle of the road time with the estimated duration.

It’s also super important to know that there are limitations and to come prepared. These are very serious mountains and it easy to get in well over your head with life-threatening consequences. That being said, all of these hikes should pose no risk if you stick to the trail.


Camera Gear We Use

Plan Your Trip to Banff


Travel Insurance

We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen in a foreign country and it’s best to be prepared. World Nomads provides good short term coverage

SafetyWing is perfect for digital nomads. See our full review here!

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Get a Travel Credit Card

A tremendous way to make travel cheaper is through the use of a solid travel credit card. We utilize a number of travel credit cards that help us save money with cash back on purchases and provide purchase protection. Take a look at some of our favorite travel credit cards in this post. Or you can check out some of our favorite cards such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Check out our travel banking tips here. And If you’re wondering how to save money for travel click here.

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards


Accommodation in Canada

To feel more at home we use Airbnb you can check out some tips and read more about getting an Airbnb coupon code hereOr just take this coupon for your first stay!

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Things to do in Jasper
Guide Book

Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend picking up a Lonely Planet to get you through the wireless nights.

Guide Book


Camelbak
Hiking/Daypack Backpack

You’re going to need something to carry your belongings in while your traveling around Jasper. Even if you’re not doing extensive hikes you need at least something small for day trips. My favorite daypacks are from Camelbak.

See our favorite hiking backpacks here!


Beach Packing List Sunglasses
Sunglasses

Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun in Canada. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.

We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.

Purchase Sunglasses


Sunscreen

Skin cancer is for real, even in the mountains! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Jasper. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.

We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.

Get Sunscreen


Danner Mountain 600 Mens Travel Boots
Hiking Shoes or Boots

If you’re wondering what necessities to bring to Banff then sturdy shoes are perhaps the most important thing you will need before you get to Canada.

I love my Merrell Moab Ventilators and have been going strong in them for two years! Check out my other recommendations on women’s shoes, and we have a post on the best safari boots.

Best Lightweight Hiking Boots


Best Down Jackets
Down Jacket

I ALWAYS have a down jacket with me on every single hike I go on in the Rockies. They aren’t just good for hikes, but doing anything in the mountains. Even in July, you may still find yourself reaching for a jacket!

Down jackets pack up light and small so there is no reason NOT to have one in your bag. Seriously it could save your life in a bad situation. We wrote a whole post on our favorites (hint –Feathered Friends, Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded JacketPatagonia Down SweaterREI Coop Down Jacket)

Feathered Friends


Packable Rain Jacket - Arcteryx Women’s Beta SL Gore-Tex Jacket

Goretex Shell

We’re building up a collection of shell jackets. We always carry one in our pack and they’ve come in handy a number of times. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof. We have a bunch of different shell jackets after several years, but my favorite right now is from Arc’teryx.

Any jacket can do the job, but the top dollar ones will hold up and really help in inclement weather.

Arc’teryx


Best Travel Water Bottles
Waterbottle

Please consider purchasing a travel water bottle before your trip! We hate to see one time use plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. The tap water is so good here – seriously please don’t be one of those tourist that buys plastic water bottles in Jasper. It’s a waste of money and plastic!

Grayl Waterbottle


Buff Headband
Buff

I love my buff. I usually wear it for keeping my hair back, but it’s also served its purpose as a scarf and wet rag too. Buffs last for years and aren’t only helpful in the mountains. I actually wear mine every day when I’m snowboarding even traveling in the desert. It’s been one of my top travel accessory investments ever!

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About the Author

Cameron

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Cameron Seagle is one of the creative forces behind The World Pursuit. He is a writer and photographer for the travel website. Cameron has been traveling for the last four years. He found a passion for conservation and safari while living out of a truck in the African bush. Obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products, he loves to research new product releases. In his free time, you can find him shooting photographs, summiting mountains, and snowboarding. Cameron currently lives in Banff with his partner and blogging co-conspirator Natasha. Cameron's favorite countries are Ireland, Scotland, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Japan. And he can never resist an excellent beach destination.

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