Lake Agnes: Teahouses, turquoise water, and larches (oh my!)

lake agnes reflection

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!

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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.

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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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lake agnes teahouse turquoise water larches alberta


Also published on Medium.

19 Replies to “Lake Agnes: Teahouses, turquoise water, and larches (oh my!)”

  1. Lake Agnes looks like a truly stunning place to visit. I always like to look for nature I can hike around and practice my photography and I feel like this would give me the best of both worlds. I can’t believe it smells so much like Christmas when you are there! Surely the best reason to visit!

    1. It really is – and it makes me laugh now seeing how stuck people get on Peyto Lake and Lake Louise (like I was before we left, let’s be honest!) when, even though they both really are stunning, there are so many other breathtaking spots to enjoy, too. And all those fir trees in their natural environment? Yes, please – best smell ever 😉

  2. Indeed insta worthy sights waiting to be captured. The undisturbed reflections… the whole place looks so magical. Trying to imagine the squirrels and birds taking their treat away 🙂 Love such trails.

  3. I’m adding this to my list when I finally make it out to Alberta! You’re right, everyone thinks about Lake Louis. Thanks for showcasing another great spot to check out. And that Tea House! It’s worth the trek just for that experience.

    1. It definitely IS worth it! Especially if you have pretty, cool weather – it’s a pleasure to make the trek 🙂

  4. Brethtaking lake! You got food shoots on Agnes and the surrounding nature really magical combination! Hiking is my favroite activite as a traveler and it’s inspire me when I see places like this. I mean what can you want more from life? Fresh air, beautiful colors and unforgettable moments! Thank you for the photos and the emotion give with them!

  5. It’s indeed a beautiful island. With a beautiful sight. Lake Agnes looks like the ideal romantic getaway for lovers. And getting stuck at the treehouse would be so nice. I want to experience the same thing.

    1. Well, I hope you get to at some point – it’s totally worth all the work 🙂

  6. You say the trail is pretty easy. Looking at that one picture of the path along the rocky cliffside, I’m inclined to think…maybe not so easy 🙂 Lovely place to be one with nature. The lake and the sights are breathtaking.

    1. Hah, that’s fair. But it’s not terribly rocky, it’s pretty well-worn, and is wide enough for two. Plus, there are plenty of good resting spots for those moments when the elevation and the moderate grade catch up with you (as it did with us!). So, not too bad at all 🙂 and you’re right, the end goal is totally worth it!

  7. The lake and arounds and really beautiful. I love hiking and this looks perfect. Loved the tree house and chipmunks and squirels would be so wonderful. I love clicking the animals and birds whenever i am in the nature.

    1. The furry bits are definitely one of the best parts of any trip, you’re totally right 🙂

  8. You’re right – I’ve heard a lot about Lake Louise, but not Lake Agnes. It’s so funny that you say that tourists don’t hike much – we’ve noticed the same!! It’s like the mass crowds only go to the easily accessible places, but anything which requires a walk to get to is pretty well left alone.

    Sounds like a great day – beautiful nature and adorable wildlife (when they’re not trying to steal your picnic!) Def a beautiful view from the teahouse – thanks for the note on traveling with cash!

    1. We’ve noticed the walking aversion a few other places, too, and it always boggles my mind. But hey, can’t complain – it leaves so much room for the rest of us to explore 😉

  9. Lake Agnes looks incredible! Morane Lake was my favorite that I saw in Banff, but even it is majorly growing in the Instagram world.I’ve not heard of Lake Agnes, but now I’m dying to visit. Especially in the fall with those yellow Larchs. I would have to have a tea at that teahouse.

  10. Ohh, I love that the trail smells like Christmas! That would be right up my alley. I’m surprised more tourists don’t hike there, but then when I think about my own travels it’s pretty rare that I go out of my way to hike to a place unless I read about it in advance. Lake Agnes looks like a total gem!

    1. The smell was definitely an unexpected benefit – loved every second of it! Apparently the trails do get busier in the summer (from what I’ve heard in these comments and from other travelers), but we definitely had very little company while we hiked, which was kind of amazing. I keep watching for flight deals so we can go back!! 😀

  11. Great post Meagan! We were there in October, and like you we were surprised at how few people we encountered on the way! Luckily we did have cash on us and was able to sample the teahouse hot chocolate. It’s amazing how many people were asking for things like cappucinos or bottles of water… do they not realise how hard it is to get supplies up there?!

    1. OH MY GOD, derps that we are, we would have died for a hot chocolate. Died. Was it delicious?! And also… I’m surprised people think that there are cappuccinos in a rustic place that lacks, I dunno, electricity… hah Sounds like you guys had a good time, though!

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