The Lake Agnes Tea House – Little Beehive hike delivers some of the best scenery in the Alberta Rockies – though the hike up to the tea house is often ridiculously busy. The locals often avoid the area like the plague because of the crowds – but if you’ve come from afar you need to see Lake Louise and Lake Agnes.
If you’ve made it as far as the Lake Agnes Tea House, then I’d recommend you do the full Little Beehive hike. It will only add an hour of hiking time. The view is actually grander that what you get on the Big Beehive hike.
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Little Beehive hike summary
Distance: 9 km (5.6 miles) return
Elevation gain: 490 m or 1,608 feet
Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate depending on your fitness level.
Time needed: 2.5 – 3 hours
Dogs allowed: Yes, on a leash.
Best time to hike: Mid – June until mid-October
- You will need a Parks Canada pass to do the Little Beehive hike. Buy one at the entrance to the park, but if you want to save time I’d recommend buying a park pass online.
- Check trail conditions in Banff National Park before you start the hike.
- Although the chances of running into a grizzly are low on the Little Beehive hike, I would still recommend taking bear spray – in a bear spray holster so you don’t set it off accidentally. You can rent bear spray in Lake Louise Village at Wilson Mountain Sports.
- Check the weather forecast before you start off on your hike.
- Always carry the hiking essentials.
- Pick up a copy of the Gem Trek Best of Lake Louise map to figure out the maze of trails in the Lake Louise area.
Getting to Lake Louise
Drive up the hill from Lake Louise Village to reach a large parking lot by Lake Louise. It’s usually full by 8 AM and you have to pay $12.25/day to use it. You can count on the parking attendants to turn you around if it’s full. They won’t let you wait for a parking space to open up.
There is an option to book a shuttle from the Lake Louise Ski Hill to Lake Louise. Reservations open on April 13, 2023 at 8 AM MST on the Parks Canada website. The shuttle is available from May 19 – October 9, 2023.
Another option is to use Roam Transit from Banff to Lake Louise. Reservations for the summer open in May.
Finding the trailhead for the Little Beehive hike
The Little Beehive hike starts beside Lake Louise. To find the trailhead, follow the shoreline path as it winds around the lake in front of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Look for a trail intersection on your right and you’ll see signs at the north corner of the lake.
Little Beehive hike description
Take the signed trail disappearing into the woods to start on the Little Beehive hike. The first part of this trail is also used for the Big Beehive hike, Mirror Lake hike and Lake Agnes Tea House hike.
The Little Beehive hike follows a wide dirt trail through the forest. There isn’t much in the way of views for the first few kilometres as you hike up steadily up towards Mirror Lake. When you start to get breaks in the trees you’ll be able to see the turquoise waters of Lake Louise hundreds of feet below, and then distant mountain peaks and glaciers.
Mirror Lake is the first notable stop
At the 2.6 km mark you reach Mirror Lake – which in August some years looks more like a puddle. To continue on the Little Beehive hike, stay right on the main trail towards Lake Agnes. In another 10 minutes the first of many fine views appears. At this point too, you’ll start to see larches.
The hike to Little Beehive
At the 3.0 km mark, take the signed trail on the right to the Little Beehive. It’s a moderate climb and within 20 minutes you should be on the summit.
Plan to spend some time at the Little Beehive. It’s a gorgeous area with a fraction of the crowds you’ll find at Lake Agnes.
Option to hike Mt. Saint Piran
There is the opportunity to lengthen the hike by several hours if you climb Mt. Saint Piran. To find the trail for Mt. Saint Piran look for a sign with the name scratched and barely visible about 15 minutes up from the junction to Little Beehive. Hike up on a mossy floor even for a few hundred metres as its thick with larches and very beautiful, especially in fall.
Little Beehive to Lake Agnes
To get to back to the Lake Agnes Tea House retrace your steps to the first intersection but keep right or you’ll be descending all the way down to the main trail. Signs will lead the way. It’s only 1 km between Little Beehive and the Lake Agnes Teahouse. (You must sit down if you want anything to eat or drink at the tea house.)
The Highline Trail from Lake Agnes to Mirror Lake
Instead of joining the throngs on the descent from Lake Agnes Tea House, take the trail that goes along the lake directly in front of the Lake Agnes Tea House that is signed for Lake Louise and the Highline Trail.
It descends steeply to Mirror Lake where you then pick up the trail you ascended earlier in the day. You’ll be back at Lake Louise in just 2.6 km.
How much time do you need to do the Little Beehive hike?
All told you can do the hike in 2.5 – 3 hours – but it’s worth packing a lunch and lingering. Or bring your knitting like the person in the hammock did (pictured in one of the photos below) and get lost in the view.
Finish with a paddle on Lake Louise
If you like solitude this loop hike is probably not for you – unless you’re prepared to get a very early start. I’m a fan of the hike – because it’s beautiful and accessible. And afterwards if you’ve got an hour and $95/hour to spend (if you are an house guest) or $145/hour (if you are a visitor), you could rent a canoe and paddle to the end of Lake Louise for a great, albeit touristy way to finish off the day.
Where to stay in and close to Lake Louise
For a splurge stay right on Lake Louise at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
For value priced accommodations stay at the Lake Louise Hostel.
Deer Lodge is very close to Lake Louise and the renovated rooms are excellent. They also have a popular outdoor hot tub.
The Mountaineer Lodge offers comfortable rooms.
Further reading on hikes in Banff and Yoho National Parks
- A Hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers and Lake Louise Teahouse
- An Outstanding Hike to the Summit of Fairview Mountain
- Paget Lookout – Paget Peak Hike in Yoho National Park
- The Ink Pots Hike via Johnston Canyon
- A Hike to Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass
Do you have a favourite Lake Louise area hike?
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