Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain: 1000 m View map Download GPS track
Fairview Mountain is the highest "official" trail in the Canadian Rockies. While steep and a good workout, it is fairly easy and grants ridiculously good views of Mt. Victoria and it's glacier, as well as many other significant peaks around Lake Louise. In larch season, the trip through Saddleback Pass would be spectacular.
From the lower Lake Louise parking area the trail starts near the canoe rental shack; from the upper parking area the trail starts in the corner of the lot closest to the lake. The trail is broad and begins ascending immediately. While some sections are less steep than others, there are no level sections and overall this is a steep hike. A few junctions early on are well signed, while an unsigned junction at around the 2.5 km mark gives the choice of a steep (right) or switchbacked (straight) approach. Both trails merge at the beginning of an avalanche slope a short distance further.
After climbing several switchbacks, emerge into larch-filled Saddleback Pass at around the 3.3 km mark. Fairview Mountain rises to the right, Mt. Temple is just to the left of front, and Sheol Mountain and Mt. Aberdeen loom directly in front. Proceed to the end of the trail, marked with a sign, cairn, and bear warning. From this point, the trail to ascend Fairview Mountain heads off to the right, rising over 400 m on about 1.5 km of switchbacked trail. About a third of the way up Aberdeen glacier becomes visible and Mt. Victoria starts to appear.
The top of Fairview Mountain is reasonably broad and has many large chunky boulders that make fantastic wind shelters. Lake Louise is visible below - although partly blocked by an outlier of Fairview Mountain - and dozens of other recognizable peaks are all around. In season we've heard it gets crowded on top, but today only another 7 made the summit.