Hike To Lake Agnes Tea House From Lake Louise
Lake Louise is a famous lake and is high up on the list of the best things to do in Canada. However, many people don’t know that there’s another lake in close proximity – Lake Agnes (shown in the picture above). Beside this lake there’s also a tea house name after the lake called, Lake Agnes Tea House. You can reach the tea house through a hiking trail which starts from Lake Louise. Find all the information you need about this hike below:
History of Lake Agnes Tea House
Did you know, Lake Agnes Tea House is the oldest tea house in Canada? The original log building was constructed by Canadian Pacific Railways (CPR) as a stop over for hikers in 1901. This was later converted to a tea house in 1905. However, the tea house that stands next to Lake Agnes today is not the same log building built by CPR. The original log structure was replaced in 1981. Fortunately, you can still find some original items of the old tea house like the tables, the chairs, and the windows.
Hiking Trail Information
The hiking trail starts from the lakeshore of Lake Louise. It is easy to spot the sign boards on the lake that point to the trail. You can also see the path leading up to the hiking trail in the video posted at the top of the post. Here are the details of the hiking trail:
Distance : 3.8 km one way
Time Taken: 1-2 hrs one way
Elevation Gained: 400m
Hours and Days Of Operation
The tea house is open from June 4 to Oct 10 from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Don’t let the 3.8 km info fool you. I routinely walk about 8 km everyday and I thought that this hike would be a piece of cake. I was so wrong! The lack of oxygen due to the altitude and the steady rise in elevation had me huffing and puffing for air every few minutes. Make sure you take adequate breaks and keep a bottle of water handy. Because of the many breaks I took, I reached the top in 2 1/2 hrs.
Personally, I think I was one of the few who was experiencing so much discomfort from the elevation. I was stopping every few minutes on the way up and had a hard time breathing through my nose. I was a mouth breather all the way up. Other people around me seemed to be walking more easily, some, with children on their shoulders! I don’t know how they do it. I was thoroughly ashamed of my fitness levels. You may have an easier hike than me. If you try it, let me know how your experience was in the comments.
The first part of the trail is quite monotonous and there isn’t much to see as a heavy cover of trees on the lake side blocks everything. At times, the trees part a bit and the brilliant blues and greens of Lake Louise shine through. These are also good spots to rest up and click a few pics on the up-hill climb.
When you cross the 3.0 km mark, you will come across a small circular lake called the Mirror Lake. I guess it’s named so because it looks like a hand mirror when viewed from top. It’s tempting to just sit there for a while and call it a day but I promise you, a better view awaits you. So, get your legs moving!
The Waterfall near Lake Agnes
You know you are near the end of the hike when the sound of falling water reaches your ear. Soon, you’ll see the small waterfall created by the overflowing water from Lake Agnes. I’m sure you will pause here for more photos and videos like I did. Only, the promise of tea and cookies made me move from this spot and climb up the stairs that lead to the Lake Agnes Tea House.
Lake Agnes Tea House
If you go during peak tourist time, the tea house is usually crowded. I was very lucky to bag a seat quickly. I lost no time in ordering, a pot of tea, chocolate cookies and an Apple Crumble, which is a local favorite. There were lunch options and sandwiches on the menu but at this point all I could see was the Desserts section :).
While I waited for my order, I read the story of the tea house that was proudly displayed on the back of the menu. It said that the tea house had no electricity and everything on the menu was freshly prepared everyday. The staff, which mainly consisted of students on their summer break, live at the tea house during the summer months. I was in awe of the staff when I read that they hike up the same trail, that I struggled to complete, 2-4 times every week with goods and supplies. I was so impressed, I tipped my waiter 50% and I thought it was more than well deserved. Please remember to bring Canadian/US Cash or travellers cheques with you. Your debit/credit cards won’t work here.
After the tea, you can relax by Lake Agnes, named after the First Lady – Lady Agnes McDonald, and enjoy the crystal clear quality of the water. Frankly, I think that this lake should have been named the Mirror Lake as the mountains surrounding the lakes, on a clear day, are perfectly reflected on the still surface of the lake. The reflection of the mountains makes for some wonderful Insta-worthy photos.
Further, if you have the energy, you can continue to Little Beehive, Big Beehive and Devil’s Scree for some breathtaking views of Lake Louise and Mirror Lake . However, if your fitness levels match mine, you may just prefer to head back to Lake Louise and call it a day! if you plan to do this hike or have hiked some other beautiful trails, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you.
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