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Frozen Mirror Lake With The Beehive In The Back

Lake Agnes Trail to Mirror Lake Snowshoeing

I spent a few very enjoyable hours snowshoeing by myself on the Lake Agnes Trail. I took it all the way pass Mirror Lake to the Lake Agnes Teahouse above Lake Louise. I’d hiked the same trail in July. The experience was 100% different – though both were great. 

In the summer the Lake Agnes trail is known for its crowds. On the day I snowshoed to Lake Agnes I met one person at the very beginning of the trail (at 10:30 AM) and I didn’t see another soul until I was on my way down. However this trail does have Challenging Class 2 terrain for avalanche exposure and requires appropriate training and equipment. If you lack that only go as far as Mirror Lake and turn around there.

I'm the only one on the trail
I’m the only one on the trail

There hadn’t been any recent snow so the trail was hard packed and you actually didn’t even need snowshoes.

Frozen Mirror Lake with the Beehive in the back on the Lake Agnes Trail
Frozen Mirror Lake with the Beehive in the back
Mirror Lake in July
Mirror Lake in July

It’s an easy 3.6 km snowshoe or hike one way starting right from Lake Louise. The elevation gain is 400 m (1,300 feet).

Spectacular mountain views along the trail
Spectacular mountain views along the Lake Agnes trail

Avalanche terrain on the way to Lake Agnes from Mirror Lake

The trail above Mirror Lake
The Lake Agnes trail above Mirror Lake
The slope on the right is the avalanche slope
The slope on the right is the avalanche slope though most of it can’t be seen

After Mirror Lake there is a section that crosses avalanche terrain – and people have died here. Banff National Park considers it to be Challenging Class 2 terrain for avalanche exposure. Continue from here only if you’re prepared with a shovel, transceiver and the know-how.

If you do press on, then you must also negotiate a steep set of stairs to Lake Agnes. They’re packed with snow, and very slippery.

I made sure to have three points of contact (two hands and a foot) at all times going up and coming down. This was no place to fall with no one around to help.

When I reached Lake Agnes – after just about an hour of steady snowshoeing – the silence was deafening. It was so peaceful, calm and still. Although it doesn’t pack the visual punch that it does in summer I think it’s still very beautiful.

I have Lake Agnes all to myself
I have Lake Agnes all to myself
Deserted Lake Agnes Teahouse in January
Deserted Lake Agnes Teahouse in January
You can just see the Lake Louise ski resort from the Lake Agnes Teahouse
You can just make out the Lake Louise ski resort from the Lake Agnes Teahouse

Lake Agnes has got quite a different feel in summer. There are loads of hiking trails to do nearby including Little Beehive, Big Beehive and Mt Saint Piran. 

Lake Agnes in the summer
Lake Agnes in the summer
Lake Agnes Teahouse on a July summer weekend
Lake Agnes Teahouse on a July summer weekend

I didn’t spend much time up at the lake. It was chilly and I needed to warm up in some sunshine.

I carefully made my way back down the steep stairs to the trail and about ten minutes later ran into people on the way up. I guess in winter people are just slow to get going. I passed about 20 people going up – on my way down. I think I was just lucky to have the trail and the lake to myself. However, I also think that most people are unaware of the avalanche danger.

If it hasn’t snowed in a while don’t worry about renting snowshoes at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. But if there is fresh snow I’d definitely recommend them.

For more information about Banff National Park visit their website.

Further reading on things to do in winter in Alberta

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. How beautiful! When I visited Lake Louise last September I missed out on this hike to the tea house – didn’t plan well enough. Now I have a reason to return – what magnificent views. Thank you for the great photos and post.

    1. @Roberta As you can see this is one trail that can be hiked at any time of the year but clear skies sure give the scenery some impact. I hope you get a chance to return.

  2. When I come to Canada, will you show me around? I get so jealous of all these gorgeous places you visit. I think you should provide Canada hiking/outdoor tours!

  3. What a beautiful hike. I am sorry I missed it. A reminder of why another visit to Lake Louise and Banff will be planned. Great photography!

  4. What pristine country and beautiful photos. I was thinking you were going to get a wonderful tea at the end of the trail to warm you. That must be a really busy place if so many were out snowshoeing. I think of that as being a fairly solitary activity. It is around here.

    1. @Billie The Teahhouse is closed in the winter but that was OK. I had a protein bar and I had a good bite to eat at the Chateau Lake Louise when I got back down. Going up I had the trails and the lake to myself. But this is a popular area and Lake Louise still attracts lots of tourists in winter.

  5. The idea of snowshoeing intrigues me, but anytime there is snow on the ground I am skiing. I like snowshoeing though because you can get to places you cannot get to on skis. I will have to try it again sometime. This area is so beautiful I don’t think it matters what you do. Just go.

    1. @Ted I definitely prefer xcountry skiing to snowshoeing but there are times – especially if the snow is bad or it’s really steep that snowshoeing seems more appropriate.

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