In the core area of Banff National Park, around Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, you’ll find many day hikes disappearing gleefully off into the mountains, offering incredible alpine vistas and glacier vantage points.
How to incorporate the hikes in Jasper National Park into your visit to the Canadian Rockies?
If you love to hike then you will be pleased to learn that I have designed a few road trip plans that include Jasper National Park, as well as other famous areas in the Rockies:
- 10-14 Day Calgary to Calgary Road Trip
- Two Weeks Road Trip from Vancouver to Calgary
- Three-Week Road Trip from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies and Back
Hiking closures and restrictions around Lake Louise to keep in mind
Banff National Park is well known for high grizzly bear activity. Do bear in mind (pun intended) that hiking in groups of a minimum of 4 is sometimes enforced by the park’s authorities.
You can find out about current seasonal closures and restrictions in the Lake Louise visitor center or online. Always carrying bear spray in the Canadian Rockies is a smart thing to do.
Guided hikes in Lake Louise & Banff National Park
If you are traveling solo or don’t have a lot of hiking experience then consider joining a guided hiking tour around Lake Louise. Many tour operators offer guided hikes on the classic trails which I will mention below. Here are a few recommendations for guided hikes.
Best Day Hikes Around Lake Louise and Lake Moraine
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, and the least crowded trails and are more likely to be able to park at the trailhead instead of having to shuttle in via bus.
1. Mount Saint Piran
- Length: 13km
- Elevation Gain: 910m
- Duration: 4 – 6 hours
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 the 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 the shoreline of Lake Louise.
2. Lake Agnes/Little Beehive/Big Beehive
- 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
- Duration: 2 – 3 hour return to Lake Agnes, +45 minutes to the Little Beehive or 1 hour to the Big Beehive
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.
3. Larch Tree Valley/Sentinel Pass
- Length: 11.6km
- Elevation Gain: 723m (2371ft)
- Duration: 3-5 hours
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 car park and 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. It’s a popular spot among photographers offering fantastic reflections of the Valley of the Ten Peaks (provided there is no wind).
4. Consolation Lakes
- Length: 6km
- Elevation Gain: Less than 100m
- Duration: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
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 a 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.
5. Eiffel Lake / Wenkchemna Pass
- 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 hours to Eiffel Lake, 5 – 6 hours for Wenkchemna Pass
The route to Eiffel Lake starts at 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 uphill to Wenkchemna Pass. If you still have energy go for it! Certainly, a worthy extension.
6. Plain of the Six Glaciers
- 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 the tea house, 3.5 – 4.5 hours to finish
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 the 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.
7. Lake Annette & Paradise Valley
- Length: 19km
- Elevation Gain: 900m
- Duration: 5 – 7 hours
This almost 20 km circuit either starts at the Paradise Valley Trailhead (on 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.
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 center 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 for at least a couple of nights to properly enjoy all the hikes there are on offer.
Below I enlist a few of my favorite 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!