One of my favourite hikes of all time is the hike up to Lake Agnes Tea House. What makes this hike special is not only the natural beauty you witness along the trail, but you also get a sense of the history and strife that people have gone through to set up home in this country.
Lake Agnes Tea House
Lake Agnes Tea House is the oldest tea house in Canada. This tea house sits in a picturesque valley, at an elevation of 2135m, overlooking Lake Agnes. In 1901, a log building was built by Canadian Pacific Railways as a stop over for hikers. It was later converted to a tea house and started serving tea in 1905. The original log structure of the tea house was replaced in 1981, however, the tables, chairs and windows that were used in the original building still remain.
Hours Of Operation
The tea house is open from June 4 to Oct 10 from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Hiking Trail To Lake Agnes Tea House
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.
Details of the Hike:
Distance : 3.8 km one way
Time Taken: 1-2 hrs one way
Elevation Gained: 400m
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.
During the first part of the trail, heavy cover of trees block the view from down below. At times, the trees part a bit and the brilliant blues and greens of Lake Louise shine through. The real fun begins once you cross 3.0 km where 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.
After some well deserved rest, you can continue to finish the last leg of the hike. At the end of the hike, the sounds and sights of a beautiful little waterfall will greet you. I am sure you will pause here for more photos and videos like I did.
Once you’ve had your fill of the waterfall, you can ascend up the stairs that lead to the Lake Agnes Tea House.
If you go during peak tourist time, the tea house is usually crowded.
When you enter this tea house, you will feel that perhaps you have traveled back in time to 1901. The tea house has no electricity and everything is freshly prepared everyday. If you are lucky enough to bag a seat, you will notice that on the table behind the menu, the owners have proudly written about the history of the tea house. You will appreciate the people who work there when you read that they hike up there 2-4 times every week with goods and supplies. I, for one, was so impressed, I tipped my waiter 50% and I thought it was more than well deserved.
After the tea you can enjoy the crystal clear quality of Lake Agnes, which was named after the First Lady – Lady Agnes McDonald. On a clear day, the mountains surrounding the lakes are perfectly reflected and make for some wonderful photos.
From the Lake Agnes tea house if you have the energy you can continue to Little Beehive, Big Beehive and Devil’s Scree for some breathtaking views of Lake Louise. However, if your fitness levels match mine, you will just prefer to head back to Lake Louise and call it a day!