The 10 Best Lake Louise Hikes

Author: Dan Brewer

Last Updated:

Without question, Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful places in Banff National Park. The soaring, glacier-covered mountains hugging the shoreline of Lake Louise, with her brilliant turquoise water color, must be seen to be believed. Although it’s possible to enjoy the beauty of this glacial Banff lake from the shoreline, we highly recommend you enjoy at least one of these amazing Lake Louise hikes during your visit.

Despite the towering mountain landscape, there’s a Lake Louise hiking trail for all skill levels. Nearly everyone can enjoy the easy stroll along the lakeshore trail or the climb up to the Fairview Lookout, while more experienced hikers will enjoy more challenging trails such as the Big Beehive and Sheol Valley. There is a Lake Louise hiking trail for all abilities and you should include at least one in your Lake Louise itinerary!

An elevated view of Lake Louise from the Big Beehive hiking trail in Banff, Canada.
The view of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from the Big Beehive Trail.

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The 10 Best Hikes in Lake Louise

With magnificent views, a variety of Rocky Mountain landscapes and several historic tea houses, Lake Louise is one of our favorite hiking areas in all of Banff National Park. While some other Banff websites list ALL the Lake Louise hiking trails, we have done the work for you and narrowed our list down to include only the best Lake Louise hiking trails.

Looking at our list of the best Lake Louise hikes, it’s near impossible to list them from best-to-worst, as they are all amazing hikes. but we’ve given it a try. We’ve listed them in order of our favorite hikes, but in all honesty, any of the Lake Louise hikes on this list are worth doing.

While you are in the area, don’t miss the Best Hikes in Moraine Lake!

1. Plain of Six Glaciers Trail

After much debate, we’ve decided to name the Plain of Six Glaciers hike as the best hike in Lake Louise (and it’s in our Banff hiking itinerary and top 5 best hikes in Banff too!). The reason we love the Plain of Six Glaciers trail so much is the wide variety of epic Rocky Mountain scenery and landscapes you’ll enjoy along the way.

The first 3 km of the Plain of Six Glaciers trail is actually a very easy stroll along the incredibly scenic Lake Louise shoreline trail. Although this leg of the trail isn’t really hiking, it could quite possible be one of the most beautiful walks in all of Canada – it’s really that good.

The Lakeshore Trail is located next to Lake Louise with a view of the Victoria Glacier.
We LOVE the stunning walk along the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail.

Once you reach the far end of Lake Louise, the Plain of the Six Glaciers hike becomes a little harder as you venture into a stunning natural mountain amphitheater. As you venture deeper into the valley, you’ll see and hear the glacial river carrying fresh meltwater from the massive and incredibly beautiful glaciers ahead. 

One of the things I enjoy most about the Plain of the 6 Glaciers hike is the section where you walk along a narrow rock path on a side of a cliff. The trail is wide enough to be safe, but still gives hikers an exhilarating experience. If you are lucky, you may even spot one of the Rocky Mountain goats which frequent this area of towering vertical rock walls.

A hiker walks next to a rocky cliff along the Plain of Six Glaciers hike.
One of my favorite spots on the Plain of Six Glaciers hiking trail.

Don’t miss these Banff wildlife spotting tips from an excellent local photographer.

Beyond the rock cliff, you’ll hike atop a massive berm as you venture closer to the Lake Louise glaciers ahead. From this high vantage point, the 360-degree views of the mountains, glaciers and waterfalls of the Lake Louise area are stunning. If you listen carefully, you may even hear the sound of ice cracking on a nearby glacier – it’s a sound you won’t soon forget.

Then, with little warning, the historic Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House suddenly appears. Be sure to stop and enjoy a refreshing snack and hot or cold beverage at this Banff landmark. The chocolate cake is especially nice at the tea house.

The historic Plains of Six Glaciers Teahouse was built by CPR in 1927.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse.

Beyond the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, the trail runs through a small forest of larch trees on its way to a large landslide. As you walk towards the end of the Six Glaciers hike, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views all around an incredible natural amphitheatre. Watch your step as you’ll surely be wowed by the glaciers hanging off the surrounding mountains, with their glacial waterfalls flowing into the valley below.

The end of the Plain of Six Glaciers hike is one of the most scenic spots in Lake Louise and in all of Banff National Park. Enjoy it – you’ve earned it!

a hiker nears the Victoria Glacier on the Plain of 6 Glaciers trail.
The final leg of the Plain of Six Glaciers trail.

Plain of Six Glaciers Trail Quick Details

Distance: 14.6 km out and back.
Elevation Gain: 590 m.

Learn more about why we named this the best Lake Louise hike in our full blog post about the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail.

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2. Lake Agnes Tea House Hike

If you’d like the experience of a Lake Louise tea house hike, but aren’t up for the 15 km Plain of Six Glaciers hike, why not give the Lake Agnes Tea House trail a try. It’s a short, uphill hike which visits two beautiful Banff lakes, including the incomparable Lake Agnes.

As you venture uphill, you’ll be treated to some stunning views of Lake Louise through the trees below. You’ll be delighted to discover that the incredible turquoise water of Lake Louise gets better and better the higher you get. See if you can spot tiny kayaks floating on the icy blue waters of Lake Louise below.

red canoes on Lake Louise looking down from the Lake Agnes Hike.
Two kayaks on the vibrant turquoise water of Lake Louise – as seen from the Lake Agnes hiking trail.

The first mountain lake you’ll arrive at is called Mirror Lake. Due to its beautiful setting, this is a popular resting spot for hikers on the Lake Agnes Tea House trail. The massive rock wall behind Mirror Lake is known as the Big Beehive – the hike to the top is another of the best hikes in Lake Louise.

two young hikers sit on a rock in front of Mirror Lake and the Big Beehive on the Lake Louise Lake Agnes teahouse hike.
Our kids sit on the shores of Mirror Lake, looking up at the Big Beehive.

The trail from Mirror Lake to Lake Agnes gets a little steeper, but along the way you’ll get a rare chance to get up-close to a beautiful Banff waterfall. Beyond the waterfall is the final set of steps leading you to the Lake Agnes Tea House.

A family of hikers approach the Lake Agnes Tea House.
Our family reaches the Lake Agnes Tea House.

With the prominent Devil’s Thumb and the jagged Mount Whyte looming high overhead, the setting surrounding Lake Agnes couldn’t be more dramatic. Be sure to treat yourself to something at the Lake Agnes Tea House before you decide whether to continue hiking on to another of the best Lake Louise hikes in the area, or if you’d simply like to return back down to the shores of Lake Louise.

Devil's Thumb and Mount Whyte soar behind Lake Agnes near Lake Louise, Canada.
Devil’s Thumb (on left) and Mount Whyte (on right) behind Lake Agnes.

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike Quick Details

Distance: 6.8 km out and back.
Elevation Gain: 385 m.

Learn more about why this is one of our favorite Lake Louise hikes in our full blog post about the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail

Looking for the PERFECT Lake Louise Souvenir?

Rooftop Illustrations - Lake Louise in Summer

If you love Lake Louise as much as we do, you’ll want to bring a piece of it home with you. This Lake Louise in Summer illustration by Diana Boyle at Rooftop Illustrations is the PERFECT souvenir!

See more Banff Souvenirs by local artists here.

3. The Big Beehive Trail

If you’ve enjoyed the short, but very scenic Lake Agnes Tea House hike and wish to continue your day of Lake Louise hiking, we recommend the Big Beehive hike. The payoff from this short, but sometimes steep, hike from Lake Agnes is panoramic views of Lake Louise and her surrounding mountains from a viewing platform built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1916.

A man standing at Big Beehive Lookout with the Canadian Rockies in the distance.
The CPR lookout on top of the Big Beehive.

The Big Beehive hiking trail begins just past the Lake Agnes Tea House and quickly leads you along the northern shoreline of the lake. The Big Beehive is the large rock hill directly across the water from you.

If you are lucky enough to enjoy the Big Beehive hike in fall, you’ll get to enjoy beautiful golden larch trees. The first of many larch trees appears about halfway across the Lake Agnes shoreline. The Big Beehive Trail is a really nice Lake Louise larch hike (especially if you can’t get to Moraine Lake to hike the Larch Valley Trail).

the needles on larch trees turn a golden color in fall on top of the Big Beehive hike in Banff National Park.
Golden larch trees on the Big Beehive hike.

From a rockslide at the far end of the lake, you’ll get an excellent view of the incredible setting for the Lake Agnes Tea House. This is where the Big Beehive trail begins to get quite steep, but only for a short while.

Looking across Lake Agnes with Lake Agnes Tea house in the distance and mountains behind it.
The Lake Agnes Tea House – seen from the Big Beehive hiking trail.

Before long, the switchbacks will be over and you’ll begin the super-fun final leg of the Big Beehive hiking trail. You’ll be walking along the spine of the Big Beehive ridge, through a forest of larch trees with Lake Agnes down below on one side and Lake Louise on the other. It simply doesn’t get better than this!

The 360-degree views you’ll enjoy from the far end of the Big Beehive hike are amongst our favorite views in Banff National Park. You can see Fairview Mountain standing guard behind the iconic Lake Louise, the Lake Louise ski area, the Chateau Lake Louise and a seemingly endless number of peaks stretching down the Bow Valley.

Lake Louise and the Chateau Lake Louise as seen from the Big Beehive hike in Banff National Park.
You can see the full length of Lake Louise from the Big Beehive.

Big Beehive Hike Quick Details

Distance: 10 km out and back.
Elevation Gain: 520 m.
(Stats include the Lake Agnes Tea House hike)

Learn more about this challenging Lake Louise hiking trail and even more add-on hikes in our full blog post about the Big Beehive Trail.

4. Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail

It seems like most visitors to the world-famous Lake Louise area don’t venture much farther than the area between the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the shoreline of Lake Louise. While this tremendously scenic spot is a must for anyone visiting the Lake Louise area, it’d be a shame if they didn’t go for a scenic walk along the lakeshore.

A misty Chateau Lake Louise as seen from the far end of Lake Louise, Canada.
Looking back at the Chateau from the far side of Lake Louise.

One of the best easy hikes in Lake Louise is a very enjoyable walk along the northern shore of the lake. In the rugged Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to find a flat hiking trail, but the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail is about as flat as you can get in this mountainous setting.

At the end of the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail you can see the glacial meltwater entering the lake, giving it incredible turquoise color it is famous for.
Meltwater from the Plain of Six Glaciers flows into Lake Louise.

You can walk as much or as little as you’d like along this highly scenic easy Lake Louise hike. With very few trees to obscure your views, you’ll enjoy many different views of this iconic Banff National Park lake.

Lake Louise Lakeshore Hike Quick Details

Distance: 4.5 km out and back.
Elevation Gain: 110 m.

Discover even more of the best easy hikes in Banff.

5. Saddleback Mountain Hike

With so many popular Lake Louise hikes, the Saddleback Mountain trail is often overlooked, which is a shame as it’s a very enjoyable Lake Louise hike. Throughout the entire Lake Louise hiking season, the Saddleback Pass hike rewards hikers with a beautiful open meadow and spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies. But in late September, the Saddleback Mountain hike becomes extremely popular with an extensive stand of golden larch trees. It’s one of the best Alberta larch hikes.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise rests in a beautiful Bow Valley setting.
Views from the Saddleback Mountain hiking trail.

The Saddleback Trail leads hikers through a lush evergreen forest along the lower slopes of Fairview Mountain. Along the way, you’ll be treated to elevated views of the Lake Louise Ski Resort, the Chateau Lake Louise and the beautiful mountain peaks which line the Bow Valley.

As you near the top of Saddleback Pass, you’ll enjoy a walk through an extensive forest of larch trees, whose needles turn a beautiful golden color in fall. In addition, you’ll love the views of several Banff glaciers, including a massive one on the summit of nearby Mount Temple (the highest mountain in the Lake Louise area).

Golden needles on a larch tree on the Saddleback Pass Trail in Lake Louise Canada.
Golden larch needles glow in the sun on the Saddleback Trail in fall.

Saddleback Pass Hike – Quick Details

Distance: 7.2 km out and back.
Elevation Gain: 660 m.

Learn more about why this is one of the best Lake Louise hikes in our full blog post about the Saddleback Pass Trail.

6. Sheol Valley Trail

The Saddleback Pass hiking trail is very rewarding, but it’s reasonably short. If you still have enough time, energy and supplies left after reaching the top of Saddleback Pass, we recommend you continue on to enjoy the Sheol Valley hike. The Sheol Valley trail is a very scenic trail which connects the Saddleback Pass Trail and the Paradise Valley Trail – two very enjoyable Lake Louise hikes.

A hiker enjoys larch trees and views of Mount Haddo while hiking Sheol Valley in Lake Louise.
Celine passes a golden larch tree on the Sheol Valley hiking trail.

One of the things we like best about the Sheol Valley Trail is that 99% of hikers who reach the top of Saddleback Pass turn around and hike back to Lake Louise. This means you’ll have this spectacular hike through a valley of Lake Louise mountains nearly all to yourself.

The larch forest atop Saddleback Pass continues into the Sheol Valley Pass. If you are enjoying these Lake Louise hikes in fall, we recommend you at least walk the first little bit of the Sheol Valley Trail to enjoy even more golden larch trees with much smaller crowds.

A stand of golden larch trees on the Sheol Valley Trail near Lake Louise in September.
Lose the crowds and enjoy larch trees in solitude on the Sheol Valley hike.

As you hike downhill towards Paradise Valley, you’ll enjoy amazing vistas of the surrounding peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Several beautiful waterfalls flow from the towering peaks of Fairview Mountain and Haddo Peak. These waterfalls meet in the valley floor below to create a single river, which you will be lucky enough to follow for a while before reaching the Paradise Valley Trail.

Banff waterfalls flow from mountaintops along the Sheol Valley Trail near Lake Louise.
It’s easy to feel small surrounded by massive peaks on the Sheol Valley trail.

Sheol Valley Trail – Quick Details

Distance: 4.0 km one way.
Elevation Gain: nil – it’s all downhill.
(stats are from from Saddleback Pass to the Paradise Valley Trail).

Learn more about this highly scenic Lake Louise hiking trail and how to make it a full loop trail back to Lake Louise in our full blog post about the Sheol Valley Trail.

7. Hidden Lake Trail

Did you know that Parks Canada offers a series of guided hikes in Banff National Park? One of these guided conservation hikes goes to Hidden Lake in the Skoki Valley near the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

A Parks Canada guide gives an informative talk on the Hidden Lake guided hike.
Our Hidden Lake guide sharing information about the area.

The primary purpose of the guided tour is to educate visitors on the amazing efforts of Parks Canada to restore habitat for the Westslope Cutthroat Trout, a species of fish listed as Threatened. But even without this inspiring conservation story, the Hidden Lake hike is a beautiful hike through an evergreen forest to an alpine lake surrounded by rocky mountain peaks.

Spots are limited on the Hidden Lake guided hike, so the majority of hikers simply enjoy this Lake Louise hiking trail on their own.

A golden larch tree in front of Hidden Lake in Banff, Canada.
Larch trees at Hidden Lake.

Hidden Lake Trail – Quick Details

Distance: 16.6 km (non-guided hike) or 10.6 km (for guided conservation hikes).
Elevation Gain: 670 m (non-guided hike) or 375 m (for guided conservation hikes).

Learn more about this beautiful Lake Louise hiking trail and how to book a guided tour in our full blog post about the Hidden Lake Trail.

8. The Fairview Lookout Trail

Lake Louise is renowned for its rugged mountain landscape and turquoise waters. But did you know that the incredible water color of Lake Louise gets even better the higher up you go? The easiest way to see this phenomenon is on the Fairview Lookout hike.

The vibrant turquoise water of Lake Louise is incredible from the viewing platform on the Fairview Lookout hike.
Just look at the water color from the Fairview Lookout.

Another of the best easy hiking trails in Banff, the short hike to the Fairview Lookout is an enjoyable walk through a lush evergreen forest. It begins near the Lake Louise boathouse and winds its way through a forest up the lower slopes of Fairview Mountain until you reach a wooden viewing platform.

Celine admires the views from the Fairview Lookout.

The Fairview Lookout is the Fairview Lookout about 40% down the length of the lake and is nearly 110 m (350 feet) above the water, giving hikers an exceptional view of the colors of Lake Louise, the iconic Chateau Lake Louise hotel and the Canadian Rocky Mountains beyond.

Fairview Lookout Hike – Quick Details

Distance:  2 km out-and-back
Elevation:  170 m elevation gain

Learn more about why this is one of the best Lake Louise hikes in our full blog post about the Fairview Lookout Hike.

9. The Pika Trail

Not all of the best Lake Louise hikes are around the famous lake itself. The Pika Trail to the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint is an excellent hike at the top of the Lake Louise summer gondola.

Wildflowers on Lake Louise summer gondola hikes.
Wild flowers bloom on the Lake Louise summer gondola hiking trails.

Hiking from the top of the summer gondola to the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint can be steep in spots, but you will be rewarded with a much different Rocky Mountain viewpoint than what you see from the top of the sightseeing gondola.

Two kids pose in front of a ski resort chairlift at the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint - a scenic Lake Louise Gondola hike.
Our kids celebrate arriving at the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint.

The Pika Trail – Quick Details

Distance: 4.1 km out and back.
Elevation Gain: 290 m.

Learn more about the Lake Louise summer gondola experience.

10. Little Beehive Trail

As you might guess, as with the Big Beehive Trail, the Little Beehive Trail is also accessed from the Lake Agnes Tea House hike. While we prefer the scenery on the Big Beehive trail vs. the Little Beehive trail, both the Big & Little Beehive hikes can be combined for an excellent day of Lake Louise hiking.

The Little Beehive hike pays off almost immediately with an excellent viewpoint. From here you can see Mirror Lake, Mt. Fairview (2,744 m), the Chateau Lake Louise and even as far as the Lake Louise ski resort on the far side of the valley.

View of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from hiking trail to Little Beehive lookout.
Views from the Little Beehive hiking trail.

The views continue to morph as you continue along this scenic Lake Louise hike. You’ll soon reach a clearing where you’ll not only see the Big Beehive, but an excellent view of the Rocky Mountains looking east down the Bow Valley towards the Town of Banff.

You’ll pass several more clearings, each with its own unique views, before you reach the end of the short Little Beehive add-on trail. There’s even a few larch trees here and there, but it won’t ever be considered one of the best larch hikes in Lake Louise.

woman in blue jacket with red Deuter backpack hiking past rock wall on Lake Louise Little Beehive trail.
Celine hiking the Little Beehive trail in fall.

Just 1 km after leaving the Lake Agnes Tea House, you’ll arrive at the Little Beehive viewpoint. There are so many peaks of the Canadian Rockies on display here it takes TWO large interpretive signs to name them all. There are not many other viewpoints in Banff National Park which offer so many mountain peaks at once.

The Little Beehive used to be a fire lookout, so there’s an old concrete structure here, but there’s also plenty of rocks to sit on to soak in the Rocky Mountain vistas.

The Lake Louise Ski Resort as seen from the Little Beehive lookout .
The Lake Louise Ski Resort as seen from the Little Beehive trail.

Little Beehive Hike Quick Details

Distance: 8.8 km out and back.
Elevation Gain: 490 m.
(stats include the Lake Agnes Tea House Hike)

Learn more about why this is one of the best Lake Louise hikes in our full blog post about the Little Beehive hike.

Things to Know About Visiting Lake Louise

The Lake Louise Parking Lot

Despite having a very large parking lot, the demand for parking at Lake Louise Lake exceeds the supply. As a result, it’s quite difficult to get a parking spot at Lake Louise. Many people visiting Lake Louise elect to bypass the parking issues and take a Parks Canada shuttle bus.

Parks Canada shuttle bus to Lake Louise.
A Lake Louise Parks Canada shuttle bus.

If you want to improve your chances to visit this famous Banff lake, please read our detailed posts on how to get to Lake Louise and the Lake Louise Shuttle.

Best Banff Hiking Collection

More Great Hikes Near Lake Louise

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Dan Brewer, a life-long Alberta resident, calls Canmore home along with his wife and two kids. He is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada, where he gets to share his passion for the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Dan, along with his family, love being outdoors doing one of the many activities they enjoy in the mountains: hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

When he's not in Canmore enjoying one of his favourite local hikes, you can find him hoping on a plane to explore a new country with his family or working on one of their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.