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Lake Agnes In The Summer

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike near Lake Louise

Yesterday did not start well. Chock that up to a longer than anticipated drive to Lake Louise from Calgary, the longest lines I’ve ever seen to get into Banff National Park (I have a yearly pass but our guests did not and spent 30 minutes waiting for one), unbelievable crowds at Lake Louise and parking nightmares. But there was a reward for our troubles – the Lake Agnes Tea House hike above Lake Louise. 

You’ll have company on the Lake Agnes Tea House hike unless you do it really early or late in the day. But I love it for the lake itself and the additional hikes you can do in the area (Little Beehive, Big Beehive, Mt Saint Piran, Devil’s Thumb)

Lake Agnes Tea House hike

It’s an easy to moderate 3.5 – 4 km hike (depending on your fitness level) one way starting right from Lake Louise itself. The elevation gain is 396 m or 1,300 feet. 

There is another option to get to the Tea House – via a horseback ride. Book a ride through Brewster or Timberline Stables in Lake Louise.

The Lake Agnes Tea House hike starts at Lake Louise
Start the Lake Agnes Tea House hike at Lake Louise

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The trail is wide and well signed and after just a few kilometres of mostly easy hiking the views begin – first of the turquoise waters of Lake Louise hundreds of feet below, and then of the distant mountain peaks and glaciers.

Go a little above the Lake Agnes Tea House trail for this view
Go a little above the Lake Agnes Tea House trail for this view (towards Little Beehive)

Mirror Lake on route to the Lake Agnes Teahouse

At about the 3 km mark you reach the small but very beautiful Mirror Lake. Skimpily clad girls were busy screaming and making much ado about their swim. This is frigid water and despite the 27°C temperatures I’m not sure I would want to make the dive in. But then again I’m not trying to impress the cute guy either.

It’s only 0.8 km from here to the Lake Agnes Tea House and in fact if you look up you can see it.

Mirror Lake in July
Mirror Lake – you can see Agnes Lake Tea House from here
Contemplating a plunge into Mirror Lake
Contemplating a plunge into Mirror Lake – a nice stop on the Lake Agnes Tea House hike
On the Lake Agnes Tea House hike you finish beside beautiful Lake Agnes
Lake Agnes in the summer

Lake Agnes

Lake Agnes is breathtakingly beautiful – even with summer crowds. And if you’re still keen to hike you can continue along  the trail that takes you to the far end of the lake and then steeply switchbacks its way up to the Big Beehive Hut – about 1.7 km away. You’ll lose the crowds once you’re past the Tea House.

The Lake Agnes Tea House hike and tea house can be busy on a July summer weekend
Lake Agnes Teahouse on a July summer weekend

The Tea House

Lake Agnes Tea House was named for Canada’s original first lady – Lady Agnes MacDonald. She was the wife of Canada’s first Prime Minister – John A. MacDonald. She was wowed by the beauty of the lake way back in 1886.

The Tea House was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1901 and in 1905 it began serving tea. Now it serves food – sandwiches, teas and more but as a sit down service only

I’m not sure why you can’t just get a drink to go – perhaps a garbage issue – so as an alternative be sure to bring your own food and drink and sit by the lake. Lake Agnes Tea House is open until Canadian Thanksgiving. They take Canadian and US cash but no credit cards.

looking across to the Lake Louise ski area from the falls off of Lake Agnes
looking across to the Lake Louise ski area from the falls off of Lake Agnes

The return hike

The hike down from the Lake Agnes Tea House is equally delightful and goes by quickly. Once back at Lake Louise you can always take the trail that wanders all the way around the lake or rent a canoe and extend your visit. 

You could also hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse starting from the far end of Lake Louise or do an add on to the Little Beehive.

Lake Agnes Tea House hike offers views of the mountains like this on the descent
View of the mountains on the hike down from Lake Agnes Tea House

This is a terrific hike and one I highly recommend. It’s a rare hike that delivers this calibre of scenery for the time and effort required. But if you can, hike it on a weekday or early in the day.

Where to stay in Lake Louise

For a spurge the Post Hotel and Spa is lovely but it’s in the village and not on the lake. Excellent food.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise enjoys the best views of the lake and you’re just a few minute’s walk from the trails. A stay here comes with a price.

Deer Lodge is a short walk away from Lake Louise – is more affordable, has great food and their updated rooms are great.

Baker Creek Mountain Resort offers cozy log cabins. Or check out the reasonably-priced hostel option in Lake Louise.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The Lake Agnes Tea House hike near Lake Louise

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 36 Comments

  1. I’m super impressed at the pics of people in their bathing suits venturing into that water, which I imagine is pretty frosty indeed. Your photos are magnificent. This looks like an AMAZING hike! Would for sure love to see Lake Louise period, and then to do the tea house on top of it? YES!

  2. Whoah! Swimming in that icy cold water is really something I would do if I were 35 years younger and, yes, only to impress a cute girl. Lovely vista for an easy hike though.

  3. We have always wanted to visit Lake Louise and Banff and your pictures keep enticing me =) It looks like the summer crowds are in full force. You’re so lucky to live within driving distance of such majestic scenery. I like that the hike is short yet you’re rewarded with so much beautiful scenery.

  4. Oh, that looked like a cold swim — cute guy or not. Nice to have a yearly pass for such a glorious place on earth, Leigh. Haven’t been there yet, but eager to see it in person. In the meantime, love your pics!

  5. You are a brave women hiking this trail on a weekend in July! Agree it is beautiful though. I love the hiking around Lake Louise. Can’t believe people were swimming either, brrr. Love your comment “But then again I’m not trying to impress the cute guy either.” Don’t think I would swim in those frigid temperatures no matter how cute the guy was.

  6. I have wanted to visit this area for a very long time and your pictures explain why perfectly! Breathtaking beauty is everywhere. Simply beautiful and I can’t wait to see it all someday soon.

  7. We had several locals recommend that hike to us when we were recently in Banff. We ran out of time to do it, but glad to see it through your eyes!

    Did you know Lady Agnes rode a Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive’s cowcatcher from Lake Louise to Vancouver? Quite a daredevil First Lady!

  8. Your photos are always so incredible. And there’s no way I’d be diving in that water:)

  9. I have swam in some very cool lakes and rivers in my time, but this one looks especially frigid. Beautiful pictures of an amazing Provincial Park.

  10. Hi Leigh, You should have let me know you were coming to the lake, I could have come said hello. We live just a few hundred meters from the hotel. Glad you got a nice sunny day for your hike, we have been experiencing a lot of rain and thunderstorms latey. If you haven’t done it yet, do the hike to the other tea house at the Plain of Six Glacier next time, the views are incredible.

  11. Must admit arriving at a tea house in the mountains on a horse sounds even more wonderful than hiking there. Could be because I’m sitting next to a paddock right now, watching the sun rise behind three gorgeous horses. Your photos are beautiful, as usual! Practically a Canadian ambassador, you are 🙂

  12. Brrrr! sure looked chilly plunging into the lake! What a hike.. so beautiful and to end up at the tea house must be so heavenly! Great shots leigh:)

  13. Have been on this hike several times (went in 2013 on a warm, rainy day, made for some beautiful photos with mist on Lake Agnes). The Lake Louise area is one of my favorite areas to hike in and around – usually get up there every other year or so. Been going since 1980. Love Six Glaciers too.

    1. @Sue Thanks for sharing. Even with the crowds the landscape always plays the starring role. I’d like to do some more hiking above the Lake Agnes Teahouse where the views are reportedly superlative.

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