There were a lot of memorable activities while in Banff but this hike is probably now one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done. But full disclosure, I like to hike but I NEED rewards on my hikes. I’m talking really pretty waterfalls or a great viewpoint to keep my interest (basically something cool I’ve seen on instagram). But I didn’t know remote teahouses were something I could hike to deep in the woods. I wish I could say I liked hiking for the pure joy of being alone in nature but if I need a place to think, you can find me in a yoga studio with post-workout mimosas to follow. I’m just that kind of girl. With that being said, this is not the trail less traveled to a tranquil hidden gem. You will see LOTS of people because lets be real, how many hikes to you get to stop at TWO teahouses and eat cake while sipping on tea overlooking emerald blue lakes? The hike is 10 miles and you will be out of breathe with an elevation gain of 1786 ft. If you don’t have the time or energy you can go to just one tea house and call it a day. There are many loops to this hike and a lot of different options depending on how much time you have.
- travel 3 miles to Lake Angnes teahouse (the more popular & busy teahouse)
- travel 6 miles to Lake Anges teahouse and the Big Beehive (totally worth it! Lake Louis is milky blue from this viewpoint and actually took my breath away)
- travel 10 miles and see Lake Anges teahouse, the Big Beehive and Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse. (RECOMMENDED)
How To Get Here
Park at the parking lot for Lake Louise and head towards the lake. Most pictures you see of Lake Louise are from the shoreline right in front of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Plain of Six Glaciers Trailhead
You will start traveling up the right side of the lake on a flat wide trail. Once you are at the end of the lake, you can see the glacier water running off into the lake. Here there was even a beach with people laying out. Next time, I’m bringing my donut float and catching some rays. At this point, the leisurely stroll is also over.
As you make your way along the trail, you emerge out of the trees and cross areas of SNOW! Stop for a picture because you will see numerous glaciers and panoramic vistas.
Once you’ve made it to the teahouse, reward yourself with some delicious cake! The teahouse dates back to 1927, so make sure to read their story. They should have a printout on the table.
To this day, there is no road access or electricity. The supplies are brought in by horseback and everything is made fresh on their propane stoves. They accept Canadian cash, so come prepared, you won’t want to miss out! The prices are a bit more expensive than you would expect for dessert or tea but very reasonable when you consider the cost of cooking in the woods with NO electricity or grocery store around the corner.
The menu is pretty extensive with 28 different options, so no need to pack a lunch. They also had 7 food items that were gluten-free! I thought that was pretty AMAZING!
To see this EMERALD blue lake from afar you will want to travel back down the same trail you just came from back to Lake Louise. Be on the lookout for a sign to the Big Beehive. (see the map below, the turnoff is down the trial for awhile and to the left) Be prepared to huff and puff on the way up. This was the hardest part of the hike and felt like it was never gonna end. You will see a hut where you think the Big Beehive hike ends but go beyond to get the best pictures!
Lake Agnes Teahouse
After the Big Beehive you will begin your travel to Lake Anges. The trail will be to the right of the trail your currently on, look for signs. You will go down some switchbacks and then walk around the lake to the final teahouse.
While I thought this was Mirror Lake, this is actually Lake Anges. Its reflective surface is deceiving. Mirror Lake will be after the teahouse, stairs, and waterfall. But after seeing all these other beautiful lakes it was just ok.
Lake Anges teahouse is definitely more popular so if you don’t get there early items do become sold out later in the day. To the left of the teahouse there is a small trail to see the waterfall but I think you get a good enough view from the stairs on the trail back to Lake Louise itself. At the bottom of the stairs you will need to make a left to stair on the trail to Mirror Lake. At this point we took the horse trail back (because we were lazy and it was 0.2km shorter, I know we are so lazy!)
TIP: Parking at Lake Louise is a nightmare. Park at the Fairmont and get a well desired drink after the hike, they will validate your parking! If you too tired to even drink, the parking is $20, which is still so worth it to avoid shuttles and overflow parking. Plus the horse trail takes you straight to the parking garage of the Fairmont. If you anything like us we were so ready to sit and drink a beer, every step counted!
TIP: We preferred going to Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse first, then the Big Beehive and lastly Lake Agnes teahouse. But you could totally do the same route in the opposite direction.