Distance: 14.6km roundtrip
Elevation gain: (385m for Lake Agnes, 135m for the Big Beehive, 365m for Plain of Six Glaciers, and 50m for the Abbot Pass Viewpoint)
Location: Banff National Park, Alberta
We visited Banff National Park for four days in July 2019. We saved our most ambitious day of hiking for our final day of our trip. Our game plan was to hike to the two teahouses – one at Lake Agnes and the other at the Plain of Six Glaciers, with a couple of additional side trips along the way.
The trailhead starts at the incredibly scenic Lake Louise. We briefly walked along the paved path along the shoreline until we reached a junction. The signpost indicated that Lake Agnes (3.4km one way) was upwards and onwards.
Upwards was right. The trail to Lake Agnes consisted of a series of switchbacks up the mountain. Midway through there’s a turnoff with a nice viewpoint of Mirror Lake with Big Beehive in the background (we would be climbing this later).
The trail eventually levels off and features a European-style teahouse next to Lake Agnes. The tea house looked a bit overcrowded, so we sat on a bench beside the lake to eat a snack and re-fuel for the journey still to come.
We then walked along the lake and started our ascent up Big Beehive (1.6km one way). The path up was a bit steep, but it was well worth the effort. Especially since the views from the top provide amazing views overlooking Lake Louise.
We were a bit confused as to where the path connects to the HighLine trail. After some trial and error, we found the junction sign and continued onwards. The path eventually intersects with the Plain of Six Glaciers, which (as the name suggests) features views of six various glaciers.
We followed this up to the second Swiss teahouse. And this time when we arrived it was nearly empty. We rested here and ordered a late lunch / early dinner.
From here there is a short side trip to the Abbot Pass Viewpoint (1.5km one way). We were a bit concerned around timing, but decided to risk it and make the detour. We’re sure glad that we did as the view of the Lower Victoria Glacier was hands down one of the most impressive that we’ve seen on this trip. We also heard (and saw!) an avalanche while hiking up to the viewpoint.
From here it was mostly downhill. We walked back to the teahouse and along the Plain of Six Glaciers (5.3km one way). The views into the valley were particularly scenic with Lake Louise in the background.
The path eventually turns into the Lake Louise Lakeshore path (2km one way, rated easy), which has minimal elevation gain, and leads back to the Fairmont Chateau and parking area.
What a day.
To read more about my adventures in Banff National Park, click here.