The Little Beehive hike at Lake Louise is accessed from the Lake Agnes trail. The Lake Agnes Teahouse hike is one of the most beautiful hikes around Lake Louise. The views of Mt. Whyte and Devils Thumb behind the turquoise waters of Lake Agnes are truly special. But don’t stop there…
Once you have stopped and enjoyed a treat from the Lake Agnes Teahouse, you can enjoy some bonus Banff National Park scenery by adding on a short hike on the Little Beehive trail. It may be short, but it’s still one of our favorite Lake Louise hikes.
Little Beehive Hike at Lake Louise – Table of Contents
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Little Beehive Hike – Quick Details
Trailhead: Lake Agnes trailhead
Distance: 8.8 km out and back
Elevation: 490 m elevation gain
Little Beehive Hike Highlights
To reach the Little Beehive trail, you first hike to Lake Agnes. The hiking trail to Lake Agnes begins with a moderate incline and remains this way throughout the entirety of this Lake Louise tea house hike.
As you gain more altitude the glimpses of Lake Louise become less prominent, but Fairview Mountain begins to loom large overhead on the left.
The trail will also become a little more rugged, with more roots and rocks to manage. Huge boulders add visual interest to the 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 in summer.
You’ll arrive at Mirror Lake after 2.9 km of hiking. Mirror Lake is a small mountain lake in front of the majestic Big Beehive.
The final leg of the hike to Lake Agnes is short, with several switchbacks. It’s a little steeper but still manageable.
Along this stretch of the trail to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, you’ll be able to see beyond the nearby mountain valley to the main Bow Valley beyond.
Shortly after passing the horse stable, the 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. 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 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
To find the Little Beehive trailhead, simply walk past the Lake Agnes Teahouse until you see the signs for the toilets. Simply follow the signs and continue past the facilities and you’ll be on your way.
The Little Beehive hike starts out nicely with a beautiful rock cliff on your left which lasts until you reach your first viewpoint 200 m later. From this vantage point, you can see Mirror Lake below, the Chateau Lake Louise and Mt. Fairview (2,744 m) along the shores of Lake Louise. Off in the distance, you can see the ski runs at the Lake Louise ski resort.
There are some massive trees (by Alberta standards anyways) along the beginning of the Little Beehive trail. Along these sections, you’ll encounter quite a few rocks and roots on the trail surface.
At the 400 m mark of the Little Beehive hike, you’ll reach a clearing where the lack of trees allows you to see for miles looking east down the Bow Valley towards Canmore. You’ll also have a good view of the Big Beehive, another excellent hike you can do from the Lake Agnes teahouse.
Just 100 m later you’ll re-enter the forest and almost immediately you’ll see the trail junction for the Mt. St. Piran hike on your left. The summit of Mt. St. Piran (2,649 m) is roughly 500 m above you with a 3.5 km long trail to get you there.
The Little Beehive hike has lots of clearings, which is great for hikers as you’ll enjoy a variety of different views of the Lake Louise area. You’ll reach another one a few hundred meters past the Mt. St. Piran trail, with a new perspective of Mt. Fairview.
You’ll also notice the first larch tree of the Little Beehive hike within this clearing. This hike isn’t considered one of the best larch hikes in Banff, but it has a respectable number of larch trees to make it enjoyable during the September larch season.
You’ll pass yet another clearing in 100 m (we hope you enjoy Banff mountain views, this hike has lots!). You’ll also start to see the summit of Mt. St. Piran through the trees on the left.
You’ll reach the end of the Little Beehive trail 1 km after leaving the Lake Agnes teahouse. From the edge of this ridge, you’ll be in awe of the 180-degree views all up-and-down the Bow Valley.
There are so many Banff mountain peaks on display from this vantage point that it takes TWO large interpretive signs to name them all. I can’t think of many other viewpoints in Banff National Park which has this many peaks on display.
There’s an old concrete structure here, since this was once site of a fire lookout. There are also plenty of rocks to sit down on to soak in the Rocky Mountain vistas and the surrounding larch trees.
There are little trails all around the end of the Little Beehive hike, allowing you to customize the view(s) you’d like to see.
On the way back down, we took advantage of a shortcut trail, which allows you to skip going back to Lake Agnes. The shortcut trail is a series of downhill switchbacks, which ultimately leads you to a spot on the main Lake Agnes trail, just uphill of Mirror Lake.
The shortcut trail has quite a few larch trees, along with views of Lake Louise, the Big Beehive, Fairview Mountain and Devil’s Thumb on the way down.
If you are not also doing the Big Beehive hike, it’s a good way to see a little different scenery instead of simply going back to Lake Agnes.
Little Beehive Trailhead
To reach the Little Beehive trailhead, you must start on the Lake Agnes trail.
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 Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel review).
The Little Beehive trailhead is found just past the Lake Agnes Teahouse near the toilet sign. Follow the signs to the toilets, then just continue on the trail right past them.
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.
Little Beehive Hike Stats
How Long is the Lake Louise Little Beehive Hike?
Little Beehive trail is 8.8 km total, which is made up of the 3.4 km one-way distance to Lake Agnes (6.8 km total) followed by an additional 1 km one-way distance to the end of the Little Beehive (2 km total).
How Hard is the Little Beehive Trail?
Due to the length and incline, we rate the Banff Little Beehive hike as “moderate”.
At almost 9 km and 490 elevation gain, the Little Beehive trail is a moderate Lake Louise hike. Some might consider this hike easy, while others might find it difficult. Given that it’s almost at the 10 km mark, we consider it to be more of a moderate hike.
It is a consistent climb the entire way up, so if you are a beginner hiker or don’t hike frequently then this will probably feel like a difficult hike. If you are up for the challenge, the trail is well groomed and there are plenty of spots to take a break along the way.
Either way, we still recommend taking a break at the Lake Agnes Teahouse before continuing up to the Little Beehive.
How Long Does the Little Beehive Hike Take?
It should take a typical adult 3-4 hours to hike to the Little Beehive and back. We did this hike in late October and it took us approximately 1.5 hours to get to the top of the Little Beehive.
We didn’t head straight up to the Little Beehive, but instead went up the Big Beehive trail first. We weren’t sure we would have the time to do both, so we wanted to the Big Beehive first. If you choose just one, we think the Big Beehive is the better of the two.
Hiking to Lake Agnes, Big Beehive and Little Beehive took us a total of 3 hours and 40 minutes including stopping for pictures.
Little Beehive Trail Map
The Lake Agnes trail to the Little Beehive is easy to follow and is well marked. If you are feeling uncertain, you can use the Alltrails app while hiking to the Little Beehive, but the trail is popular enough that you’ll have plenty of people to follow.
To find the Little Beehive trail map in Alltrails, simply search for “Little Beehive via Lake Agnes Trail”. Just note that this trail shown doesn’t actually go all the way to Lake Agnes, but takes an earlier trail out-and-back to the Little Beehive. If you haven’t been to Lake Agnes, we recommend going to Lake Agnes first, then following the signs up to the Little Beehive. You can then use this other trail as an alternate way back down.
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 the Little Beehive Trail with Kids
If you are visiting Banff with kids, the Lake Agnes hike is fun to do with kids. It has such a great payoff. If your kids are up for more distance, add on this hike to the Little Beehive. It’s only an additional 1 km each way and offers some great views.
Our kids, who are 8 and 6 years old, are decent hikers. We’ve hiked to Lake Agnes with our kids, but we haven’t taken them the entire way to the Little Beehive. We know they would be able to successfully complete this Lake Louise hike, given they hiked Sentinel Pass this fall. This is a distance that’s easily within their capabilities now.
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.
Little Beehive Hiking Safety
Aside from the usual rocks and roots, there are relatively few hiking hazards along the Little Beehive hiking trail. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow up all the way to Little Beehive Lookout.
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.
Always check the Little Beehive trail report under the Lake Louise Area section for the Little Beehive trail conditions, wildlife warnings and possible closures before you head out. This hike
Little Beehive Trail Logistics
On-leash dogs are allowed on the Little Beehive hike. Mountain biking is not allowed. 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 the Little Beehive Trail
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.
Here are the must-haves for the Lake Louise Little Beehive hike:
- 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 Big Beehive 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.
Little Beehive Footwear Recommendation
Due to the consistent climbing, rocks and roots, we recommend a good pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots.
Hiking the Beehive Circuit Trail
If you only have one day to see the best Lake Louise hikes, there are connector trails along these Lake Louise hikes to complete a Beehive Circuit.
Starting up the Lake Agnes trail, shortly after Mirror Lake (about 400 m), there’s a junction that’s unmarked that will turn to the right and head up the Little Beehive. From there, you’ll come down the main Little Beehive trail to Lake Agnes.
Continue past Lake Agnes along the shores of the lake to the Big Beehive. Once you’ve been to the Big Beehive Lookout, head back the way you came. Instead of turning right to go back to Lake Agnes, go left and follow the Beehive trail to the Lake Louise Highline Trail.
A left on the Lake Louise Highline trail will take you back to Mirror Lake, where you can connect to the Lake Agnes trail back to the Lake Louise lakeshore.
This should be a total distance of about 13 km and 900 m elevation gain. The Alltrails description of the Beehive Circuit doesn’t do the out-and-back to the Big Beehive Lookout. Don’t miss this part. It’s only another 1 km total and this is where you’ll get the BEST views!
If you really want to see it all, you could add on the Plain of Six Glaciers hike to this Beehive circuit. Follow the directions above, but instead of making a left on the Lake Louise Highline trail to Mirror Lake, turn right to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse (and past for incredible views).
On the return from the Plain of Six Glaciers, don’t take the Highline trail back, but stay on the main Plain of Six Glaciers trail to finish the hike on the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail.
This Plain of Six Glaciers and the Beehive hike on Alltrails has a map of exactly this. It’s 20 km round-trip and 1,140 m elevation gain. It would be an epic day of hiking but you’ll get to see it all!
Hiking Little Beehive in Fall
If you’d like to avoid the challenges of getting to Moraine Lake and Larch Valley, you can still see some larches along the Little Beehive trail (though the Big Beehive trail is a better options to see larches). And given the proximity of Lake Louise to Moraine Lake, you can still expect these trails to be busy hiking in fall in Banff.
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 Banff in October can be a wonderful time to hike, depending on the weather conditions in that given year (which are extremely variable).
Hiking to Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive in October, you’ll find there is often snow on the mountaintops, which makes them especially beautiful. Lake Agnes may or may not be frozen over at this time.
When hiking in Banff in October, it’s critical to be prepared for varying conditions. We recommend dressing in layers (with an extra warm layer in your pack, even if you think you don’t need it) and always having a pair of microspikes in your bag.
When we last hiked the Little and Big Beehive trails in October, there was a good layer of ice 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!
If you have the energy after visiting Lake Agnes, take the short hike up to the Little Beehive for stunning mountain vistas!
Other Things to do in Lake Louise
Banff Trip Planning Resources
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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.