Distance: 17.5 km
Elevation gain: 880 mView mapDownload GPS track
While the Lake Louise area is beautiful, the insane crowds that flock to it are quite effective at keeping us away, especially when more wild and beautiful places beckon. Today, however, with low cloud obscuring nearly every peak in the area and steady rain to the south we decided that some simple hikes in the Lake Louise area would have to do. Drawing on our memory of the area from 2006
, we chose to hike the Plain of Six Glaciers and Lake Agnes trails, the two most popular trails at Lake Louise. The two trails are connected and either can be hiked first, but the connecting route between the two (via the Big Beehive) is less steep if you do the Plain of Six Glaciers trail first.
Trails in the Lake Louise area are well marked and absolutely impossible to miss or get lost on. The most challenging part is navigating through the maze of random tourist movements along the lakeshore without a collision or walking through too many photos in progress. I also found - and find the same thing in the city - that walking on the flat, solid trail hurt my feet and ankles far more than the usual sketchy trails I follow. Weird that 30 km through forest and up mountains is just fine, but a few kilometers on pavement kills me. I guess it's just what humans evolved to do.
Expect a crowded trail at nearly any time of day. Even in the cold drizzle and low cloud today there were several hundred on the trail (and thousands on the lakeshore). While one of the primary reasons I hike is for solitude and that most definitely was not present here, the company was actually somewhat enjoyable as nearly everyone on the trail were tourists exploring the Rockies for the first time and were understandably giddy with excitement, much like I was in 2006. It certainly made a crappy weather day seem much better than it was!
Both trails have a teahouse at the end too. The food smelled good, but we couldn't find a seat or even figure out how to order (or what you could order) so we skipped out on what I suspect was good but overpriced food.