Where to Hike around Lake Louise in Banff National Park

In the core area of Banff National Park, around Lake Louise and Moraine Lake you’ll find many trails disappearing gleefully off into the mountains, offering incredible alpine vistas and glacier vantage points.

Due to short length and small elevation gain some of the hikes on this list are also perfect for beginners!

If you plan on doing any of these hikes then I have a very important piece of advice for you. Start as early as possible, even if it means waking up before sunrise. 

You’ll get the best views with the best light, the least crowded trails and are more likely to be able to park at the trailhead instead of having to shuttle in via bus.

The parking lots at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake where most of the trailheads are, sometimes fill up as early as 5 am during the summer season! 

Lake Louise area is also well known for high grizzly bear activity. Do bear in mind (pun intended) that hiking in groups of minimum 4 is sometimes  enforced by the parks authorities. You can find out about current restrictions in the Lake Louise visitor centre or online. Always carrying bear spray in the Canadian Rockies is a smart thing to do.  

NEW FOR SUMMER SEASON 2020! Due to the limited parking at Lake Louise and Moraine lake, a new booking system for the shuttle service is being introduced from the 2020 summer season. It opens on April 1st 2020 so don’t miss it! For more information go to the Parks Canada website.

7 Fantastic Day Hikes around Lake Louise in Banff National Park

1. Mount Saint Piran

Looking towards the Trans Canada Highway 1 from the summit of Mt Saint Piran
Lake Louise viewed from the Summit of Mount Saint Piran
The surrounding peaks of the Canadian Rockies from the Summit of Mount Saint Piran

Starting at the car park at Lake Louise, the trail begins with an uphill push almost to the shore of lake Agnes before it  branches off right toward the Little Beehive.

400 meters before the summit of the Little Beehive the pathway veers off to the left onto a sign posted, but not very trodden path through the ever more sparsely situated trees.

Once out of the trees the route is obvious and easy to follow and not before long you’ll be tackling the rocky slope to the summit.

The summit views are some of the best in Canada. Surrounded by peaks to the West and South, the Bow Valley to the East, and the Waputik Icefield to the North. Truly remarkable and serene after the throngs of happy snappers at shoreline of Lake Louise. 

Length: 13km

Elevation Gain: 910m

Duration: 4 – 6 hours

2. Lake Agnes/Little Beehive/Big Beehive

The view from the Big Beehive in Lake Louise
The colour of Lake Louise is even more intense from above.
Lake Agnes at sunset.

The Lake Agnes Tea House is a popular walk up from Chateau Lake Louise stopping at Mirror Lake about halfway.

The view from the tea house is fantastic, so you might as well have a cup of tea here and take a break. The line for beverages might be a considerable length so try and get there as early as possible.

After soaking up the views (and the tea) the extensions to the Little and the Big Beehive are well worth it.  They won’t take much longer, but offer views into the Bow Valley and over Lake Louise far beneath you. 

Length: 6.2km return to Lake Agnes, +2km return to Little Beehive or +3km return to the Big Beehive

Elevation gain: 400m to Lake Agnes, +90m to Little Beehive or +135m to the Big Beehive

Duarion: 2 – 3 hour return to Lake Agnes, +45 minutes for little beehive or 1 hour to the Big Beehive

3. Larch Tree Valley/Sentinel Pass

The Pathway along the Larch tree valley
Larch Tree Valley
Sentinel Pass looking towards the Paradise Valley

Larch Tree Valley is one of the most popular hikes on this list, especially in September, when the larches turn all shades of lime green, bright yellow then orange before eventually losing their soft needles. This marks the beginning of their dormant season.

The trailhead starts at the Moraine Lake carpark, heads sharply uphill on switchbacks before flattening out in the bowl where the larch trees can really be appreciated.

Once you pass Minnestimma lakes, the trail again slowly climbs to Sentinel Pass. The Lakes are a popular spot among photographers offering fantastic reflections of the Valley of the Ten Peaks (providing there is no wind).

Length: 11.6km

Elevation Gain: 723m (2371ft)

Duration: 3-5 hours

4. Consolation Lakes

Consolation Lake in the early spring

I’m both amazed and thankful that more people don’t do this hike. Another absolute cracker that starts from the Moraine Lake car park is the easy jaunt to the Consolation Lakes. It will take you away from the crowds at Moraine and offer some peace and quiet with spectacular end result.

The lakes lie under gigantic cliffs where mountain goats can be spotted moving gracefully from rock to rock. In my opinion this hike offers the best views to effort ratio in Banff National Park. 

Length: 6km

Elevation Gain: Less than 100m

Duration: 1.5 – 2.5 hours

5. Eiffel Lake / Wenkchemna Pass

Eiffel Lake one of the best day hikes around Lake Louise in Banff National Park
Eiffel Lake
Hiking along the rocky bank away from Eiffel Lake
Valley of the Ten Peaks viewed from the trail toward Eiffel Lake

The route to Eiffel lake starts at the Moraine Lake Car Park on the same trail as Larch Tree Valley/Sentinel Pass.

After around an hour on the switchbacks the well trodden trail breaks away from the main crowds by taking a left at a prominent fork. From here the trail to Eiffel lake flattens out. 

Soon you’ll be out of the tree line hiking along a rocky bank, which offers incredible vistas of Hungabee Mountain right in front of you and the Valley of the Ten Peaks to your left.

The alpine lake sits beautifully below Neptuak Mountain and is a great spot for a break.

The trail then continues up hill to Wenkchemna pass. If you still have energy go for it! Certainly, a worthy extension. 

Length: 11.2km return to Eiffel Lake, 19.4km to Wenkchemna Pass

Elevation Gain: 400m to Eiffel Lake, 710m to Wenkchemna Pass

Duration: 3 – 4 hour to Eiffel Lake, 5 – 6 hours for Wenkchemna Pass

6. Plain of the Six Glaciers

Plain of the six glaciers. Best hikes around Lake Louise in Banff NP

Another incredible hike with a phenomenal views to effort ratio, the Plain of the Six glaciers starts with a lakeside stroll along Lake Louise before gradually ascending to the tea house.

Not before long you’ll enjoy a cup of Earl Grey or Orange Pekoe whilst taking in some of the best views in town.

You can either call it a day or continue along the trail around another 1km to the end of line where two huge boulders mark the finish line.

From here the views are considerably better and open up. If you’re lucky you may be able to spot a glacier calving and falling to its demise. 

Length: 11.2km return to Tea House, 13.8km return to finish

Elevation Gain: 360m to Tea House, 460 to finish

Duration: 2.5 – 3.5 hours to tea house, 3.5 – 4.5 hours to finish

7. Lake Annette & Paradise Valley

Lake Annette - Paradise Valley Trail near Lake Louise. One of the best day hikes in the area

This almost 20 km circuit either starts at the Paradise Valley Trailhead (on the Moraine Lake Road) or at the Moraine Lake Car Park.

You can do it in either direction but I would recommend doing it from Paradise Valley to Moraine Lake as it’s easier to hitchhike from Moraine Lake rather than to Moraine Lake.

This relocation hike encompasses the Paradise Valley, an enchanting mix of alpine meadows and woodland and Lake Annette – a glacier fed, crystal turquoise lake. 

Not too long after starting your ascent up to the Sentinel Pass, down past the Minnestimma Lakes and down through Larch Tree Valley before emerging out at Moraine Lake.

It’s not the easiest hike but the rewards are truly breathtaking and it will take you away from the crowds of Moraine lake and offer a bit more solitude. 

Length: 19km

Elevation Gain: 900m

Duration: 5 – 7 hours

Is trail finding easy in Lake Louise?

It’s worth mentioning that all hikes mentioned above are very well marked and maintained. 

There are map boards with trail descriptions at both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake right near the shoreline and impossible to miss.

If still unsure, pop into the visitor centre beforehand or purchase a backcountry map. Just remember what I said about the fast-filling parking lots! Stay safe and have fun! 

Where To Stay In Lake Louise

This tiny resort town packs one hell of a punch, whilst at the same time remaining relatively quiet in comparison to its bigger brother – Banff. I highly recommend staying in Lake Louise at least a couple of nights to properly enjoy all the hikes there are on offer. 

Below I enlist a few of my favourite places to stay in Lake Louise. If you book through the links I receive a small commission. If you found my Canadian Rockies Guide helpful consider supporting my site at zero cost to you! 

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