Way back in 2016, around the same time twowildtides began, I stumbled on an Instagram post about the Lake Agnes Tea House. I had a notebook of ideas for articles and places I wanted to go. The Lake Agnes Tea House was always at the top of that list. Last month, I made it happen. And I felt the thrill of crossing something really important off a bucket list– a feeling that is pretty rare during pandemic-times.
The Lake Agnes Tea House can only be accessed on foot or by horseback. The trail leaves from the shore of Lake Louise, right in front of the Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise. I had also never seen Lake Louise before, so on top of all my excitement about the Tea House, I had the wonderful experience of laying my eyes on those bright blue waters for the very first time. Not even the postcards do this place justice.
As you are probably aware, Lake Louise is a major tourist destination. Millions of people per year visit the lake. Parking is crazy and you should arrive early to get a spot (although we did luck into one just before noon, so it is possible). And while I certainly don’t mean to take away from the romance and wonder of Lake Louise, it is worth noting just how busy it is there. The canoes, for example, cost $115 + tax per half-hour and $125 + tax per hour, and the line-up was enormous. The images below are meant to be a heads-up, not a deterrent.
Let’s get to the hike:
As I mentioned, the trailhead is on the shore of the lake. If you’re looking out over the lake, it will be to your right. There is a sign marking the trail.
The trail involves what I would describe as a medium-grade, steady incline. I definitely felt the burn in my legs, but didn’t find myself getting too winded. There were many older individuals and young families enjoying the hike. Do what feels safe for you. The trail is well-beaten and not treacherous, although there are some areas with steep drops along the sides of the trail. It is an out-and-back trail, so you’ll be steadily descending on your way back. The scenery is spectacular.
About three-quarters of the way up, you’ll find Mirror Lake and The Beehive. There is a separate, longer trail you can take to hike The Beehive, which I hope to do in the future. Can you guess why this mountain is called The Beehive?
Just before you reach the top, there is a small waterfall and lookout point at the base of the trail’s only set of stairs- these stairs are your last push before the Tea House.
The total ascent was about 400 m over 3.5 km, which we tackled in about 50 minutes.
Lake Agnes and the Tea House was even better than I imagined. A log cabin on a lake in the mountains with a breathtaking view. Honestly, if it started to snow, it would have been material for a Hallmark movie. It was busy, but we lucked into an outdoor table with another couple from Ontario, who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. We enjoyed tea (of course) and a delicious peanut butter bar. The menu is extensive and very fairly priced. Patrons are responsible to bring their own garbage down from the mountain. We learned that the staff, who are mainly young people, have bunks near the Tea House where they live for a few days at a time. So cool!
I didn’t want to leave. I could have stayed there all day. Not kidding.
But the sky clouded over and the temperature dropped, so after about an hour and a half at the top, we headed back down. The descent took about 40 minutes.
On our way down from Lake Louise, we did a quick stop into Moraine Lake, another well-known, picturesque, bright blue lake. Definitely worth the time and the drive. I’d recommend as a top-notch picnic destination.
Have you hiked to the Lake Agnes Tea House? What other must-sees are there for us in the Canadian Rocky Mountains? Leave a comment!