John Guilford's Hikes
Lake Agnes, Lake Louise, Banff N.P. on 2015-07-28
People: (including myself): Pam
Lake Louise: 1:15 5700 0
Mirror Lake: 2:00 6660
Lake Agnes: 2:15 7000 2.1
Big Beehive: 3:00 7400 3.1
Leave: 3:15 7400
Lake Agnes: 4:00 7000 4.1
Mirror Lake: 4:10 6660
Lake Louise: 4:45 5700 6.2
Originally we had planned to hike in the Moraine Lake area south of Lake
Louise, but by the time we tried driving out the parking area of long since
filled with a huge backup of vehicles and vehicles parked a considerable
distance from the parking area. We abandoned that plan and drove to
Lake Louise instead.
That parking area was also full, but it wasn't as bad as Moraine Lake and
we parked along the road a short ways down from the lake.
Being one of the very popular places in Banff, there were considerable
people in the lake area. At least in the summer, it is not the place to
go for solitude. We had thought to hike to the far end of the lake and up
into the Plain of Six Glaciers, but we changed our mind and decided to
go to Lake Agnes to try for something a bit quieter.
The trail is in quite good shape, especially considering the amount of
traffic it gets. There was quite a few folks going up and coming down the
trail, but it wasn't nearly as heavy as the lakeside trail around
The trail is wide and smooth and grinds out the elevation in a
consistent grade. Part way up the trail crosses the horse trail that leads
to Lake Agnes. After a long climbing traverse of the side of the valley the
trail switchbacks up to Mirror Lake.
Continuing on past Mirror Lake the hiking trail and the horse trail join.
The makes the hiking a bit more fragrant, but at this point you're almost
there. Just below Lake Agnes there is a spectacular waterfall. To the
side of the waterfall there are stairs to ascend the cliff face up to
At Lake Agnes there is a tea house. This gets most of their
supplies via a helicopter at the beginning of the season. The rest of their
supplies get brought up via horses periodically. People carry out their
trash daily. This can make a good destination in and of itself, or one
can continue and ascend either the Little or Big Beehive (among other places)
for a longer hike.
We decided that we had time to go up the Big Beehive. The weather
was sunny on the trail (which thankfully was somewhat shady on the way up),
but looking up into the surrounding mountains we could see clouds and
rain/showers. Fortunately the precip mostly stayed nearer the peaks.
The trail goes two thirds around Lake Agnes counter clockwise before it
steeply switchbacks up the ridge in nine or so swtichbacks. From the
ridge top, the trail runs along the top of the ridge back towards Lake
Louise until it ends at a small shelter (created to shelter folks from
afternoon thunderstorms). From here there are great views of the Bow
Valley, Lake Louise, the Chateau, and the surrounding peaks.
We stayed on top for a little while to get some pictures, but we
had heard some thunder in the hills and decided it would be prudent to
not linger for too long. An alternate route to the Big Beehive is from
the Plain of Six Glaciers trail. We thought about that, but it was longer
and we wanted to get down in case a storm came up.
When we got down to Lake Agnes, the wind
was coming down the tarn from Mt. Whyte and bringing some of the sprinkles
with it. It was enough that we put our goretex on.
We stopped for a brief snack near the tea house before continuing on down.
The wind blown sprinkles ceased after Lake Agnes and my goretex came off.
The hike down was somewhat faster than the hike up, and the lower sun
(when it wasn't in the clouds) gave some nice lighting to Fiarview Mtn.
Mirror Lake and the Big Beehive.
View of Bow Valley from near Lake Agnes.
Waterfall just below Lake Agnes.
Lake Agnes and tea house with Mt. Whyte in the background.
View from far end of Lake Agnes looking back towards tea house.
Shelter atop Big Beehive.
Lake Louise, Chateau, and Bow Valley from the Big Beehive. The dots
on the lake are kayakers and canoers.
Mt. Aberdeen and Haddo Peak above Lake Louise.
The Big Beehive.
Fairview Mtn. above Lake Louise in the late afternoon sun.
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Last updated on: Fri Jun 9 16:50:57 PDT 2017