Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Trail at Lake Louise

Author: Celine Brewer

Last Updated:

Lake Louise is a magical place in the winter time. Standing along the frozen shores of the world-famous Lake Louise, with snow capped Canadian Rocky Mountain peaks all around, you’ll never forget your visit to Banff National Park.

If you’d like to see the beauty of Lake Louise in winter from a different vantage point, we recommend the Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail. A short Lake Louise snowshoe trail, Fairview Lookout rewards visitors with an incredible elevated view of many Lake Louise landmarks and attractions.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel from Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Trail

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Fairview Lookout Snowshoe – Quick Details

Trailhead: Fairview Lookout Trailhead

Distance:  2 km out-and-back

Elevation:  166 m elevation gain

Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Highlights

Before you begin the Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail, walk from the parking lot to the first section of shoreline along Lake Louise. Take a moment to soak in the winter wonderland around you. The Chateau Lake Louise looks so elegant sitting next to the beautiful frozen Banff lake surrounded by Fairview Mountain (2,744 m), Victoria Glacier, the Big Beehive (2,270 m) and more.

If you have the time, plan to come back and skate on Lake Louise. A truly magical experience that only those who visit Lake Louise in winter get to enjoy!

Snow covered Lake Louise in Winter

After you’ve spent enough time enjoying the world-class beauty of Lake Louise in winter, you’ll find the Fairview Lookout snowshoe trailhead a few feet away in the trees on your left.

Parks Canada has very good signage for the Lake Louise area trails. For the Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail look for a green circle with the number 15 in it.

trailhead sign for fairview lookout snowshoe trail - Banff National park

There are many Lake Louise winter trails which originate from this trailhead, so the trail is nice and wide at the beginning as you enter a beautiful forest of snow-covered evergreen trees. Be sure to look through the trees on your right for a few last glimpses of frozen Lake Louise.

The Lake Louise Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail starts to climb uphill a bit. There’s a trail sign which indicates bikes are not allowed; it’s a summer biking sign, but we assume this prohibition extends to no fat bikes as well.

Just 300 m after leaving the frozen Lake Louise lakeshore, you’ll arrive at a large trail sign for the Fairview Mountain trails. The trailhead for the Highline snowshoe trail to Paradise Creek is to the left, while the trailhead for the popular Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail is to the right (again, follow the green circle with a 15 in it).

This easy Lake Louise snowshoe trail begins uphill through a forest of fluffy snow-covered evergreen trees. Rather than a straight line through the trees, the Fairview Lookout trail has gentle S-shaped curves through the trees.

Man on Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail at Lake Louise

After 400 m into the Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail, the incline gets noticeably steeper and your heart will get pumping a bit. Even though Parks Canada labels Fairview Lookout as an easy Lake Louise snowshoe trail, it does get challenging for short spurts. The trail is not long, so stick with it – the views are worth it.

Snow covered trees on Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Trail - Lake Louise

It’s around this point that you can start seeing the snowy summit of Mt. St. Piran (2,649 m) through the trees on the right. Also keep your eyes in the snow as you’ll see lots of animal tracks, a reminder that life goes on in the forest in winter.

At the 700 m mark of the Fairview Lookout trail, you’ll get some incredible views of Fairview Mountain overhead through the trees. Some of the trees in this stretch of forest are massive by Canadian Rocky Mountain standards.

After 1 km of some fun Lake Louise snowshoeing through a beautiful wintery forest, the snowshoe trail starts to descend and shortly thereafter, you’ll arrive at the Fairview Lookout.

Snow covered trees on Fairview Lookout Trail in Winter - Lake Louise

You’ll immediately understand why the Fairview Lookout trail is so popular with visitors to Lake Louise in winter. At an elevation of 1,852 m, the Fairview Lookout is approximately 110 m above the frozen lake, approximately 40% down the length of the lake.

The views from this Lake Louise lookout are incredible. Looking across the frozen lake, you’ll enjoy a great view of Mt. St. Piran and the Little Beehive (2,220 m).

View of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from Fairview Lookout

Looking northeast across the Bow Valley stands the massive Mt. Hector (3,394 m), Three Brothers (3,185 m), Cataract Peak (3,333 m) and Mount Richardson (3,086 m).

The views of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from the Fairview Lookout are some of the best you’ll find anywhere, making it a real treat for guests of this excellent Lake Louise hotel who’d like a great picture of this iconic hotel. (Want to stay at the Chateau? Read our Fairmont Lake Louise review first!)

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Trailhead

The Lake Louise parking lot is 46 minutes from Banff and just over 2 hours from Calgary. Take the TransCanada Highway 1 west, then exit toward Lake Louise. Turn left towards the village of Lake Louise then continue on Lake Louise Drive until you reach the parking lot.

The Lake Louise parking lot will fill up fast on weekends and during the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival, which is the best time to see the beautiful Lake Louise ice sculptures. If you’d rather not contend with getting a parking spot, there are many alternate ways to get to Lake Louise.

snow covered Sign at Lake Louise in Winter

As you walk from the Lake Louise parking lot, you’ll reach a large Lake Louise trailhead sign. Turn left to reach the Fairview Lookout trailhead.

You’ll be following the green 15 trail marker on this easy Banff snowshoe trail.

Don’t miss these other Lake Louise snowshoe trails: Mirror Lake Snowshoe and Blue Square 27 Snowshoe.

Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Stats

How Long is the Fairview Lookout Snowshoe?

The round-trip distance of the Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail is 2 km.

How Hard is it to Snowshoe to Fairview Lookout?

Due to the length and incline, we rate the Fairview Lookout as “easy”.

At only 2 km and 166 elevation gain, the Fairview Lookout snowshoe is an easy Lake Louise snowshoeing trail that most anyone can do.

It is a consistent climb on the way up and steep at some points, so if you are a beginner snowshoer or don’t snowshoe frequently then this will probably feel difficult. Just go slow and take breaks along the way, the views are worth it.

woman snowshoeing Fairview Lookout Trail at Lake Louise

How Long Does the Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Take?

It should take a typical adult 30 minutes to 1 hour to snowshoe to Fairview Lookout. We snowshoed this trail recently and it took us 35 minutes including time at Fairview Lookout and stopping for pictures.

Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Trail Map

The Fairview Lookout trail is easy to follow and is well marked. Snowshoeing has the added benefit of making a very clear trail! If you are feeling uncertain, you can use the Alltrails app while snowshoeing to Fairview Lookout, but the trail is popular enough that you’ll have either people to follow or a very defined trail.

To find the Fairview Lookout trail map in Alltrails, simply click here for the “Fairview Lookout”. Be sure to download your hiking maps prior to leaving.

A recent App of the Year winner, AllTrails is also one of the best apps for visiting Banff! Enjoy map downloads and many more premium features with a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+!

Hiking Fairview Lookout in Summer

Are you visiting Lake Louise in the summer? Check out how different the Fairview Lookout hiking trail looks in the summertime!

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

Snowshoeing Fairview Lookout with Kids

Our kids (aged 8 & 6) are strong little hikers and snowshoers. We haven’t taken them on this snowshoe trail yet, but they’ve completed several Kananaskis snowshoe trails of similar length or difficulty. We are certain they’d have no issues with this snowshoe.

snowshoeing at Lake Louise to Fairview Lookout

We have pulled a double chariot up this trail, but it’s not something we recommend. While doable, the trail gets narrow in parts and the steepness makes it difficult for one person to pull.

If you are considering a visit to Banff with kids or pets, check out our recommendations for family-friendly-hotels in Banff and pet-friendly hotels in Banff.

Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break

Back down at Lake Louise is the best place for lunch or a snack! You can even reward yourself with a hot chocolate or coffee in the Chateau Lake Louise and warm up for a bit before continuing your day of adventuring in the snow!

The actual lookout area is small enough that there won’t be much room to stop other than to take a few pictures.

View from Fairview Lookout at Lake Louise

Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Trail Safety

In the dead of winter, the bears around Banff should be hibernating (be careful in early winter or early spring though!) But that’s not a reason to let your guard down as wolves, cougars, elk, etc. still provide a safety risk to Banff visitors. It only takes a few minutes to learn about wildlife safety in Banff National Park.

It’s always a good idea to check the Fairview Lookout trail conditions (under Lake Louise Area Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking Trails) before you leave home.

We highly recommend consulting the Banff Avalanche Bulletin published by Parks Canada before you head out on any adventures. We are not avalanche experts, so please educate yourself and make smart decisions while enjoying the beauty of Banff in winter.

Banff Mountain Scenery from Fairview Lookout Snowshoe trail - Lake Louise

Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Trail Logistics

  • Snowshoe rentals are available in Lake Louise at Wilson Mountain Sports in the town of Lake Louise or at Chateau Ski and Snow Rentals in the Chateau Lake Louise.

  • There are toilets located in the Lake Louise parking area.

  • You can fill water bottles in the restrooms in the main Lake Louise parking lot. Drinks are available for purchase inside the Chateau Lake Louise.

  • Dogs are allowed on-leash.

  • The Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail is not a Lake Louise fat bike trail. Fat biking is not allowed.

What to Bring for Snowshoeing in Banff

When snowshoeing in Banff, it’s essential to dress properly in layers. The uphill sections of the Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail are hard enough that you’ll get hot and will start to sweat. A proper base layer needs to effectively wick that moisture away from your skin. If the sweat remains on your skin, the cold wind will evaporate it, cooling you quickly which could be dangerous.

You’ll probably start putting your layers back on very shortly after arriving at Fairview Lookout. Your internal body heat will drop and you’ll start to feel cold fast.

We recommend learning about dressing in layers before you enjoy any snowshoe trails in Banff. Make sure you have a good daybag to store your unused layers in.

Keep your fingers and toes toasty with hand and feet warmers. Winter activities are less fun if your hands and feet are freezing. We are big fans of the hand and foot warmers by Aurora Heat (save 10% using TRAVELBANFFCANADA at checkout), which are eco-friendly, sustainable and so much better than the single-use hand warmers.

Fairview Lookout Foot Traction Recommendations

The uphill sections of the Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail can be steep enough that you’ll slip. This trail is also popular enough that it can get icy in spots if there hasn’t been a recent snowfall.

Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Trail at Lake Louise (2)

While it’s possible to do without anything other than winter boots (if the trail is packed down), you’ll enjoy it more with some form of traction device on your feet. If there’s been a recent snowfall, you’ll be glad to have snowshoes!

We almost always pack both our snowshoes and microspikes, which allows us to choose what will work best when we get to the trail. If you don’t have this luxury, snowshoes will always work even if the trail is packed down! Plus you can have some fun playing in the deep snow next to the trail.

Snowshoes for Fairview Lookout

If you are going to snowshoe up to Fairview Lookout, make sure you have multiple crampons underneath your snowshoes – some on the front toe and a pair under your heel. Also, if possible, look for a pair of snowshoes with double-ratchet bindings and avoid snowshoes with any form of buckle bindings – they tend to come undone, which gets annoying quickly.

Shop for snowshoes

Winter Hike Traction Devices

If you are going to winter hike to Fairview Lookout you will need some form of traction device on your feet.

We own and highly recommend Kahtoola MICROspikes. Look at the steel spikes on the bottom of the Kahtoola MICROspikes and you’ll see why we love these winter traction devices so much. They are a scaled-down recreational version of the crampons you’ll see on mountain expeditions. We also have similar microspikes for the kids.

micro spikes are better than yaktrax for a Kananakis ice walk

Yaktrax are another popular multi-purpose traction device used around Banff for winter walking or running. They are popular as they are very comfortable for walking on winter hikes or snow-covered walking trails in Canmore or Banff. The lack of spikes makes them comfortable to walk on, but they are not great for ice walking.

Shop for traction devices

Trekking Poles

No matter which traction device you use for your feet, you should consider using trekking poles to help your balance. We’ve tried trekking poles and to be honest, we don’t like them nor use them, but we seem to be in the minority. Trekking poles are widely used around Banff and Kananaskis in winter.

It makes sense… winter hiking on snow or ice in the mountains is often very slippery and trekking poles add two more points of contact with the ground, thus greatly reducing your odds of slipping.

Shop for trekking poles

The Fairview Lookout snowshoe trail is an easy snowshoe trail that’s worth your time and effort!

Other Banff Winter Activities

Banff Trip Planning Resources

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Looking for a short and fun snowshoe trail at Lake Louise? The Fairview Lookout is short and steep but the views of Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise are worth it!
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Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.

As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.