Lake Louise is a famous lake in Alberta, Canada, known for its turquoise color and spectacular views. It attracts more than 3 million visitors each year, many of whom stopover at the lake only for a brief visit before moving on to see other lakes in the region. If you’re not the average tourist and looking to spend more time here, then you should consider a hike to Lake Agnes Tea House.
Hiking at Lake Louise
There are three options when it comes to hiking at Lake Louise. An easy hike is a leisurely walk around the lake which can be completed within an hour. For a challenging hike, you can try hiking to the Plain of Six Glaciers which also has a tea house. Here, I’ll be talking of the moderate option, that is the Lake Agnes Tea House hike. For starters, here’s a fact box of the hike.
Information about the hiking trail
Length of hiking trail :
3.8 km one way
Average time required:
1.5 to 2 hrs one way
Hours and Days Of Operation of Lake Agnes Tea House
The tea house is open from June 4 to Oct 10 from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm.
The hiking trail starts from the lakeshore. You’ll have no difficulty finding it as there are signposts all along the lake, as shown, guiding you to the trail.
The first part of the trail is quite monotonous and a bit disappointing for people who expect to see gorgeous views of Lake Louise. The heavy cover of trees on the lakeside blocks almost everything for a good part of the hike. Occasionally, the trees part for a bit and the brilliant blues and greens of Lake Louise shine through. This is a good time to click a few pics and also briefly rest before continuing on the uphill climb.
If your fitness level is good, you may not feel the strain of the hike. However, if you hardly exercise, like me, then you may find that the hike gets challenging very quickly. Due to the rise in elevation, I had to pause and catch my breath several times during the hike. Make sure you bring a bottle of water to hydrate and perhaps an energy bar to keep up your energy levels.
Halfway through the hike, you’ll be blessed with some scenery. You still won’t be able to see Lake Louise but the scenery is still good.
When you cross the 3 km mark, you will come across a small circular lake called the Mirror Lake. I was curious as to why it’s named so. When I googled the reason, I found out that it’s called Mirror Lake because it looks like a hand mirror when seen from the top. This is not immediately obvious here. If you hike up to the Big Beehive viewpoint, you can see the top view of Mirror Lake.
At this point, it’s very 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
The first sign that you are approaching the end of the hike, is the sound of falling water. Soon, you’ll see the small waterfall created by the overflowing water from Lake Agnes. I’m sure you’ll 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.
At the top of the stairs, the crystal clear water of the Lake Agnes greets you. 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. Beside the lake, you’ll see a log cabin that is the Lake Agnes Tea House.
Lake Agnes Tea House
The Lake Agnes Tea House is not just any tea house. It’s Canada’s oldest tea house. The original building was constructed by Canadian Pacific Railways (CPR) as a stopover for hikers in 1901, which 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 log structure was replaced in 1981. Fortunately, you can still find some remnants of the original tea house. For example, the tables, the chairs, and the windows are still the same as was used in the original building.
If you hike up there during peak tourist time, you’ll likely find that the tea house is crowded. When I visited, I was very lucky to bag a seat quickly. As I was ravenous, I lost no time in placing an order of tea, chocolate chip cookies and Apple Crumble.
While waiting for your order, notice the menu. The story and history of the tea house is proudly displayed on the back. When I read it, I was surprised to find that the tea house had no electricity and everything on the menu was freshly prepared every day. 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 the most well-deserved tip I have given to date.
Please remember to bring Canadian/US Cash or traveler’s cheques with you. Your debit/credit cards won’t work here.
If the tea has restored your energy, you may consider continuing the hike 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!
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