The Lake Agnes Tea House hike is one of the most popular of the short Lake Louise hikes in Banff National Park. An easy hike up a mountain slope on the north side of Lake Louise, hikers will be rewarded with stops at two stunning mountain lakes.
Mirror Lake is the first lake you’ll visit on the Lake Agnes hike. Mirror Lake is a small, but beautifully set lake below a massive rounded massif known as the Big Beehive.
The second lake you encounter is, of course, Lake Agnes. Surrounded by magnificent jagged mountains, Lake Agnes is one of the most scenic lakes in Banff National Park. A fun tradition is to reward yourself with a treat from the iconic Lake Agnes Tea House.
Lake Agnes Tea House Hike – Quick Details
Trailhead: Lake Agnes trailhead
Distance: 6.8 km out and back
Elevation: 385 m elevation gain
What You’ll Find in This Article on Lake Agnes Tea House Hike:
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Lake Agnes Tea House Hike Highlights
The Lake Agnes hiking trail begins with a moderate incline and remains this way throughout the entirety of this Lake Louise tea house hike. The views of the turquoise colors of Lake Louise and the impressive Victoria Glacier get better and better with every step.
The early stages of the hike to the Lake Agnes tea house is through a dense evergreen forest, with a deep green carpet of shrubs and moss, with occasional bursts of color from wildflowers. The air is filled with the sound of happy birdsong. You’re still close enough to the lake surface that the intermittent views of Lake Louise through trees on the left are a real treat.
At the 690 m mark of the Lake Agnes hike you’ll cross a little stream, although it can dry up in summer. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the whitebark pine trees which line the trail. Sadly, the whitebark pine tree is endangered, so please don’t touch and definitely don’t carve anything into the trunk.
The incline of the Lake Agnes trail remains steady. You can expect to breathe a little heavy, but you’ll notice there are hikers of all abilities on this beautiful Lake Louise hiking trail. While taking a break to catch your breath, try to spot tiny kayaks floating on the brilliant blue water of Lake Louise through gaps in the trees.
At 1.4 km the roots of a massive white bark pine spill like an octopus onto the Lake Agnes hiking trail. As you gain more altitude the glimpses of Lake Louise become less prominent, but Fairview mountain begins to loom large overhead on the left.
At 1.7 km a glacier appears through trees atop Mount Aberdeen. Lake Louise is known for its many beautiful glaciers. Many of them are on display on the Lake Agnes teahouse hike.
Just 200 m later, the trail does a single switchback, taking hikers further up the mountain in the opposite direction. At the spot of the switchback, an opening in the trees allows for an amazing view of Lake Louise below. The water color on a sunny day is indescribable.
This section of the Lake Agnes trail becomes a little more rugged, with more roots and rocks to manage. Huge boulders add visual interest to the Lake Agnes hiking trail as you gain more elevation. Bright red paintbrush flowers and large wild roses (Alberta’s provincial flower) grow in sunny patches along the side of the hiking trail.
At 2.3 km, you’ll arrive at a break in the forest which allows for amazing views of Fairview mountain, which rises dramatically along the south shore of Lake Louise.
After another 200 m of hiking along the Lake Agnes trail, the trail turns left and leads hikers directly away from Lake Louise for the first time. Hikers who need a break can rest sitting on a huge fallen tree trunk near the trail side.
You’ll pass a trail junction after 2.8 km of hiking. This trail is for horses and goes back to the main Lake Louise area. I’m sure the people who take a horseback ride to Lake Agnes enjoy it, but the rest of us hikers now need to watch our step as we continue on the hiking trail.
You’ll arrive at Mirror Lake after 2.9 km of hiking the Lake Agnes trail. Mirror Lake is a small mountain lake in front of the majestic Big Beehive.
As you can imagine, after nearly 3 km of hiking uphill along the Lake Agnes trail, Mirror Lake is a popular place for hikers to stop and rest. There are plenty of rocks to sit on near the shores of Mirror Lake. The relaxing sound of a mountain stream flowing into this beautiful Banff lake is complimented by the sound of happy dogs leaping into the water to fetch sticks. You’ll be able to find a shady spot on a hot day, but don’t stay too long as Lake Agnes is the final goal.
From Mirror Lake you can choose between hiking across to the Plain of Six Glaciers (another Lake Louise tea house hike) or continue another 0.8km to Lake Agnes.
The final leg of the hike to Lake Agnes is short, with several switchbacks. It’s a little steeper than the rest of the Lake Agnes hike, but it’s not too bad.
Along this stretch of the trail to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, you’ll be able to see beyond the close mountain valley to the main Bow Valley beyond. From this leg you can see the TransCanada highway along with incredible views of Fairview, Mt Aberdeen, Hadoo peak and Devils Thumb.
At the 3.5 km mark of the Lake Agnes trail, the jagged peak of Mt Whyte appears through the trees. Watch carefully on your left for a chance to see the beautiful waterfall which flows from Lake Agnes. There are not many chances to see it from afar.
You’ll arrive at the trail junction for the Little Beehive trail after 3.6 km of hiking. Continue straight for Lake Agnes. At this elevation, the mountain views become more regular along the Lake Agnes hike.
Shortly after passing the horse stable, the Lake Agnes trail leads to the edge of the waterfall. This is an incredibly beautiful spot and a rare opportunity to stand near a beautiful Banff waterfall.
As you’d expect with an opportunity as good as this, the area under the Lake Agnes waterfall gets very crowded. Be very careful, as the area to stand is small and the drop down beyond the waterfall is significant.
Once you’ve had your fill of Lake Agnes waterfall pictures, your final task is to climb 57 stairs. At the top, you’ll be greeted by the Lake Agnes Tea House, and the iconic Lake Agnes just beyond.
The Lake Agnes Tea House is a very popular place for a snack and a drink after completing this popular Lake Louise tea house trail. There are a few picnic tables, benches and rocks to sit down around this Lake Louise tea house area.
It’s hard to describe the beauty of Lake Agnes. With the jagged Mount Whyte and the Devils Thumb looming high overhead. The setting for Lake Agnes couldn’t be more dramatic.
If you are lucky enough to visit Lake Agnes in fall, the lake is surrounded by larch trees. Lake Agnes is incredibly beautiful in fall when the needles on the larch trees change color.
If you can peel your eyes off Lake Agnes for a moment, you’ll enjoy some amazing vistas looking southeast. You’ll be able to see the Chateau Lake Louise hotel and across the valley to the Lake Louise ski resort.
Just the day before we were on the opposite side of the Bow Valley looking towards Lake Louise and Lake Agnes. We took the Lake Louise Summer Gondola for some fun hiking and got to enjoy excellent views of Lake Louise. Now, just 24 hours later, we were enjoying the inverse view.
By itself, the Lake Agnes trail is one of the best Banff National Park hikes, but once you reach the lake, there are many excellent Lake Louise hiking trails on which to continue the hike if you are up for it:
- The lakeside trail around edge of Lake Agnes
- Big Beehive Hike
- Little Beehive Hike
- Mount St Piran
- Devils Thumb
Most people return to Lake Louise the exact same way they came, and there’s nothing wrong with this approach. But if you have good hiking shoes on, there is an opportunity to take an alternate trail down to Mirror Lake, which we highly recommend.
The Lake Agnes loop trail begins near the Lake Agnes waterfall (after you’ve crossed the little bridge). You’ll find a much longer set of stairs leading down on the opposite side of the waterfall from which you came.
One of the many benefits of this alternate trail down from Lake Agnes is excellent views of the towering waterfall.
Once the stairs are over, the hiking trail is much more natural and comes with lots of rocks and roots. It should be manageable for almost everyone, but hiking shoes would be a big help here.
Not long after the stairs end, look up on the right and you’ll see you are immediately below the summit of the Big Beehive. It’s a pretty incredible sight!
This trail from Lake Agnes to Mirror Lake is through a beautiful, lush forest likely from the humidity of the nearby waterfall. It’s much less busy than the main trail, but watch your step, as there are lots of small, loose rocks on the trail which have fallen off the Big Beehive cliff above.
As you pass the Big Beehive cliff, the mountain views really open up in front of you. You’ll be standing in a boulder field enjoying a stunning vista of Mt Aberdeen, Fairview Mountain and Hadoo Peak. You can also see Mirror Lake through the trees below as well as the massive Big Beehive cliff overhead. It hard to compete with the scenery at Lake Agnes, but this spot could very well be the most scenic spot on the Lake Agnes hike.
A few hundred meters beyond the boulder field, yet another beautiful mountaintop glacier comes into view. The views up here are truly breathtaking.
After 5.1 km of hiking, Mirror Lake appears through the trees on your left. On a sunny day you can really appreciate turquoise color from this vantage point.
Beyond Mirror Lake you’ll be back on the main Lake Agnes trail heading back to the Chateau Lake Louise. The views coming down are amazing, especially as you are working less hard and are more able to look around and soak in the world-class Lake Louise scenery!
Lake Agnes 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 in the summer. If you are visiting Banff National Park in the summer, we recommend that you arrive before 9 am even on a weekday.
Note: In 2021, Parks Canada implemented mandatory paid parking from June to mid-October for the Lake Louise Lakeshore parking lot. The rate for paid parking in Lake Louise in 2023 is now $21.00 per vehicle per day.
As you walk from the Lake Louise parking lot, past the popular lakefront photo ops with Lake Louise brilliantly blue in the background, you’ll find the Lake Agnes trailhead just past the Chateau Lake Louise hotel – one of the best hotels in Lake Louise. (Learn more in our full review of the Chateau Lake Louise).
As the main walking trail forks, the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail and the Plain of the Six Glaciers hike are to the left, while the Lake Agnes tea house trail is to the right.
Lake Agnes Hike Stats
How Long is the Lake Agnes Tea House Hike?
The round-trip distance of the Lake Agnes trail is 6.8 km (one-way distance of 3.4 km) from the Lake Agnes trailhead along the Lake Louise lakeshore.
We took an alternate route down from Lake Agnes on the other side of Mirror Lake before joining up with the main Lake Agnes tea house trail. We tracked our distance to be closer to 7.5 km.
How Hard is the Hike to Lake Agnes Tea House?
Due to the length and incline, we rate the Lake Agnes hike as “easy”.
At only 6.8 km and 385 m elevation gain, the Lake Agnes trail is an easy Lake Louise hike that most anyone can do.
It is a consistent climb on the way up, so if you are a beginner hiker or don’t hike frequently then this will probably feel much more like a moderate hike. The trail is well groomed and there are plenty of spots to take a break along the way.
How Long Does the Lake Agnes Hike Take?
It should take a typical adult 2-3 hours to hike to Lake Agnes. We did this hike with our two kids (8 and 5 years old) and it took us 3.5 hours including time at Mirror Lake, lunch at Lake Agnes and stopping for pictures.
Lake Agnes Trail Map
The Lake Agnes trail is easy to follow and is well marked. If you are feeling uncertain, you can use the Alltrails app while hiking to Lake Agnes, but the trail is popular enough that you’ll have plenty of people to follow.
To find the Lake Agnes trail map in Alltrails, simply search for “Lake Agnes trail”. Be sure to download your hiking maps prior to leaving.
Enjoy map downloads and many more premium features with a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+!
A paper map isn’t required for this Lake Louise tea house trail, but if you prefer to hike with a paper map and compass as an additional safety layer, we highly recommend Gem Trek hiking maps. We own the entire set of these excellent Banff and Kananaskis hiking maps. They are exceptional 3D topographic maps which we love looking at for hiking inspiration.
The Lake Agnes trail map is found in the “Lake Louise & Yoho” map. You can order it before your trip, or you can pick it up here as they are widely available.
Hiking Lake Agnes Trail with Kids
If you are visiting Banff with kids, this is an excellent hike for the entire family. It may be challenging for some kids, with the consistent climb, but it’s well worth it to make it to the top. Even kids can appreciate a view like the one you get at Lake Agnes tea house.
Along the way there are plenty of opportunities to stop for a break on a log or a large rock.
Our kids, who are 8 and 5 years old, are decent hikers and they really enjoyed this hike. The number of people hiking on the trail gave them a constant distraction as they would chat up anyone willing to listen.
The hiking trail to Lake Agnes is wide enough for 2-3 people, making it a great hike for families or groups.
Don’t miss these other best Banff day-hikes with kids.
Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break
The obvious place to stop for lunch is at the Lake Agnes Tea House. You can find the Lake Agnes Tea House menu here. While some may find the Lake Agnes tea house prices to be high, it’s important to remember that all supplies need to be carried up to the tea house.
If you are traveling to Banff on a budget, there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy lunch at one of the most scenic places in Banff. We often pack a lunch when hiking with kids, so we can stop when we need to. Even on a very busy day at this Lake Louise tea house, we had no issue finding rocks along the lake to stop and enjoy our lunch.
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Lake Agnes Hiking Safety
There are relatively few hiking hazards along the Lake Agnes hiking trail. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow up all the way to the Lake Agnes Tea House.
That being said, it’s still important to educate yourself on Bear Safety in Banff National Park. This should entail carrying bear spray, hiking in a group and making plenty of noise on the way up.
Cougars also live in Banff National Park. Learn more about Cougar Safety in Banff National Park.
Chances of a dangerous wildlife encounter in Banff are very low, but you never know what will happen with Banff wildlife, so be prepared.
We recommend you check the Lake Agnes trail report for the Lake Agnes trail conditions, wildlife warnings and possible closures before you head out.
Lake Agnes Trail Logistics
On-leash dogs are allowed on the Lake Agnes hike. Mountain biking is not allowed on the Lake Agnes trail. There are toilets in both the Lake Louise parking lot and up at the Lake Agnes Tea House.
Plan to pack plenty of water and snacks for this hike. Fill your hydration packs before you leave. Though you always have the option of buying lunch or a snack at the tea house.
You won’t get cell service for the entirety of your hike, so don’t count on it for your safety.
What to Bring for Hiking Lake Agnes Trail
This isn’t a very long hike, so you don’t need to be as prepared with all the proper hiking gear. Check out our list of hiking essentials with the hiking gear and clothing we recommend to get the most enjoyment out of your hike, regardless of the variable Banff weather and trail conditions. The Lake Agnes trail is a short Banff hike, but there are still a few items that we recommend bringing:
- Bear spray is a must. Cannisters are available to buy or rent at many locations in Canmore and Banff. Carry your bear spray in an easily accessible location.
- Water – the Lake Agnes trail is a consistent uphill climb and on a hot summer day you’ll want to ensure you have enough water. A hydration pack is an effective and eco-conscious way to bring enough water for a hard hike.
- Bring several layers of clothing with you. The weather can be quite variable hiking in Banff National Park, no matter the season. For hiking in Banff, we typically wear convertible hiking pants, T-shirts, a fleece top and rain jackets. Bring a daybag as you can expect to put on and take off layers all day.
- We don’t use trekking poles, but they can help with balance and to take pressure off knees on the descent.
Lake Agnes Footwear Recommendation
The Lake Agnes trail is in decent shape for most of its length. You could do this Lake Louise teahouse hike with trainers on. We’ve even seen people do it with sandals on, though we don’t recommend it.
If you do any of the other hiking trails from Lake Agnes or hike the optional route down the other side of Mirror Lake, then we recommend a good pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots.
Hiking Lake Agnes in Fall
In September, everyone goes crazy for the best larch tree hikes around Lake Louise, such as the Larch Valley Trail. While the Lake Agnes trail is not the best larch tree hike, it is a good Banff hike you can still see larch trees here and it will be less busy than the popular Larch Valley.
You can’t completely escape the larch tree madness when hiking to Lake Agnes in September, as there are a few larch trees at the far end of the lake along the lakeshore trail. In addition, if you add on the Big Beehive hike or the Little Beehive hike, you’ll be treated to a decent amount of golden larch trees, especially on the former.
Once the final golden larch tree needle has fallen, the Banff hiking trails get a lot quieter. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to hike – in fact October is a wonderful time to hike to Lake Agnes. By this time of year, there is often snow on the mountaintops, which makes them especially beautiful, but Lake Agnes should still be thawed.
When hiking in Banff in October, it’s critical to be prepared for varying conditions. We recommend dressing in layers and always having a pair of microspikes in your bag. When we last hiked Lake Agnes in October, there was a good layer of snow on the hiking trail about halfway up.
We had our microspikes on and had no traction issues at all. 90% of the hikers on the trail were really struggling and nearly everyone stopped us to ask about our microspikes. If you intend to do a lot of fall or winter hiking in Banff, they are a great investment!
Lake Agnes is a “must-do” Lake Louise hike! You’ll find every step worth the effort when you see the views!
Looking for the PERFECT Lake Louise Souvenir?
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.
Other Lake Louise Hikes
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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.