Instagram and the travel world are filled with pictures of Lake Louise, but many of the trails around this world-famous body of water are just as gorgeous. Enter Lake Agnes, home to a bevy of larch trees and amazing clear, turquoise-y water just begging for photography and ogling.
Hike along with us!
The trail to Lake Agnes
The trail is fairly easy, in that it’s well-worn, well-kept, and simply winds consistently but not dramatically upward. That said, if you’re not from a relatively high-elevation place, it’s going to feel a heck of a lot harder! Evidenced by Luke’s face, I think 😉
Boyfriend Perspective: My face in the above picture was absolutely not because we forgot water and snacks to bring with us….who would forget that deliciousness. Also, we are a mile higher in altitude than where we live in Virginia.
We worried when we started that the trail would be packed, but it seems that tourists don’t hike much, so we shared the trail with surprisingly few people. Folks were chatty when we passed, saying hello at the bare minimum or striking up more of a conversation if the moment was right.
The wonderful thing about this trail is that it smells a bit like Christmas – there are wild fir trees EVERYWHERE, and the smell as you walk through a gathering of them is absolutely fabulous. You also get very pretty views of Lake Louise as you journey along – hopefully they help drive you on!
A gorgeous pit stop along the way: Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake is the best kind of pit stop. It’s a little more than halfway along the trail to Lake Agnes, and gives you a nice preview of what you can expect from the latter. There are plenty of sizable rocks to rest on, and a heck of a view to enjoy. We saw it when the water level was a little low, but it’s stunning, nonetheless.
We saw plenty of people pausing here with snacks and picnics, but if you decide to do this, beware. The wildlife knows you’re coming! The chipmunks and red squirrels are precious and cute, but we saw members of both species decide to try and help themselves when they thought no one was looking. The birds aren’t much better – the grey jays hanging around the lake were a little more skittish, but they were equally persistent. So watch your treats! And avoid intentionally feeding these guys. This IS a national park, after all 🙂
Boyfriend Perspective: What is bird is making that sound? :follows sound: Where is that…..squirrel? That wretched sound is coming from a SQUIRREL!!!!
Lake Agnes Teahouse
This may be one of the coolest things we’ve ever seen. The Lake Agnes Teahouse is completely sans electricity, and all supplies for their offerings are packed up the mountain by horse or by person – or, if they need large things, there are rare helicopter drops. It’s built on the same ground as the original tea house, and still uses much of the original furniture.
Their tea offerings are extensive, to say the least, and they have plenty of treats. But beware – since they’re without electric, that means they’re without means to process credit cards, so they’re cash only. We were both a little ridiculous and forgot this fact, leaving the little Canadian cash we had in car. WOMP.
Beware, as well, that this place can get very crowded very quickly. But it’s worth it, for the view and (so we hear) for the treats.
Boyfriend Perspective: OK, so you probably called my bluff, we definitely did forget to bring water and snacks on our hike….but there was the tea house to look forward too for some refreshments…..CASH ONLY!!!! KAAAHHHNNN!!!!
Lake Agnes, itself
Finally, we have Lake Agnes. The tea house sits right on its banks, and has an absolutely stunning view. If you’re not feeling tea and sweets, there are plenty of rough-hewn benches in the area to rest on/admire from, as well. At this time of year, this is the perfect place to admire Banff’s signature larch trees – fir trees that turn a stunning golden color for a few short weeks in the Fall.
Use this area as a jumping-off point to get to several area trails. Just be warned – some of the trail markers aren’t tooooooo clear. Which is how we ended up hiking Big Beehive instead of Little Beehive. Ack.
Have you been to Lake Agnes? What was your experience like?
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Also published on Medium.