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Hiking trail

Plain of Six Glaciers Loop

Hiking trail · Alberta
Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • A trail junction along the route
    / A trail junction along the route
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • The view over Lake Agnes
    / The view over Lake Agnes
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • Lake Agnes Teahouse in the distance
    / Lake Agnes Teahouse in the distance
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • The Junction for Big Beehive
    / The Junction for Big Beehive
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • An Old Trail Marker at Big Beehive Junction
    / An Old Trail Marker at Big Beehive Junction
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • Great signs along the way!
    / Great signs along the way!
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • / Separate routes for people & horses
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • / Lake Louise looking more teal from afar
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • / In the final ascent towards the glaciers
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • / The view from the end of the trail
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
1800 2000 2200 2400 m km 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16

Follow the watershed that leads into Lake Louise up to it's glacial origin. 

moderate
17.9 km
8:00 h
815 m
915 m

Starting with a steep ascent, you'll be on the most popular route out of Lake Louise. You'll pass Mirror Lake and then reach Lake Agnes, the final destination for most walkers as they stop for a cup of tea and cake at the Lake Agnes Teahouse. Your route will continue along the banks of the lake on flat ground before you ascend a set of switchbacks to the saddle of the Big Beehive. Take in the views of Lake Agnes below before descending towards the glacial moraine above Lake Louise. The trail will flatten out slightly as you gradually ascend the valley and arrive at the Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse. This last section of the trail is in an open rock field with a few intersecting paths made by many walkers. It's easy to get disoriented by these intersecting paths, so follow our routes and look for the tiny ridgeline that will mark the furthest viewpoint of this trail and the place where you can check out Abbot Pass. 

Author’s recommendation

If you'd like a more level stroll, consider walking the banks of Lake Louise by traveling this route in reverse and turning around when you'd like. 

outdooractive.com User
Author
Hannah Lafleur
Updated: October 05, 2018

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2250 m
Lowest point
1726 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

Bears are present and active around all hiking routes. Be sure to review The Parks Canada information regarding travel in bear country to familiarize yourself with best practices. Always carry bear spray and know how to use it. 

The weather in this area can change quickly. Even if you start a hike with blue skies, it could easily be storming (or even snowing) by the afternoon. Check the weather report daily to adjust your hiking schedule as needed.

Trail Conditions can vary based on the season and weather. Check with a local visitor's center or visit the Parks Canada Website for the most up to date trail conditions. Always be prepared to turn back if you feel that snow or rain makes a trail unsafe. 

  • This is a long walk and parts of the trail can become slippery if wet. Plan to turn around should the conditions become severe. 

Equipment

We recommend packing at least bear spray, hiking boots, warm layers, water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, warm hat, rain gear.

Tips, hints and links

  • Restrooms: There is a large public bathroom for lake visitors in the parking lot. The Fairmont Chateau restricts the use of their bathrooms to guests and diners only. 
  • Cell Service: You might have a small amount of service at the trailhead, but for the most part there will be no service on the hike.

 

Points of Interest:

Both the Lake Agnes Teahouse and Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse are the highlights along this route! Read more about them below in Food & Drink. 

 

Food & Drink:

The teahouses on this route are a rare treat. Both teahouses were built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1900's as a way to tempt people to travel out west. Today they remain fully functional with offerings of tea, coffee, soup, cake, biscuits, and other small snacks. They accept credit cards and American cash at higher fees, so bring Canadian dollars if you have them. 

 

There is also a restaurant, deli & cafe in the Fairmont Chateau if you'd like to sit inside to eat after your hike. The upscale Alpine Social is situated by the windows overlooking the lake but can be quite busy throughout the lunch and dinner hours. 

 

For recommendations of places to eat or grocery shop in Lake Louise Village, see your driving route notes. 

Start

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (1840 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
51.416240, -116.230005
UTM
11U 553545 5696395

Destination

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Turn-by-turn directions

0.0km - With the Fairview Chateau directly behind you and Lake Louise directly in front of you, TURN RIGHT to follow the paved path along the shores of the lake.

0.1km - Keep an eye out for the blue signposts attached to a tree here were the trail splits. The path on your left runs along the shore of the lake called the “Lakeshore/Plain of Six Glaciers Trail.” You’ll be returning on that trail, but for now, BEAR RIGHT to follow the “Lake Agnes Trail.”

2.3km - The trail will open up to present a great view of Lake Louise below. Take in the scenery before continuing STRAIGHT ON the trail as it continues up the mountain.

2.6km - You’ve arrived at Mirror Lake and an intersection that you will return to on your way back from Lake Agnes. With the lake in front of you TURN RIGHT and follow signs to Lake Agnes.

3.1km - At this intersection, the Mount St. Piran Route Trail veers off on your right, BEAR LEFT to stay on Lake Agnes Trail.

3.4km - Enjoy a small waterfall that cascades fresh from Lake Agnes above before walking STRAIGHT ON the trail as it follows a wooden staircase up to the lake and Teahouse above.

3.5km - Take in the stunning Lake Agnes and have a cup of tea at the Teahouse. You might even catch one of the servers filling a giant metal teapot with water from the lake. If this teahouse is busy, consider making your stop at the Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse that is further out the valley and likely to have less foot traffic. To continue your walk, with Lake Agnes in front of you and the Teahouse behind and to the right of you, TURN RIGHT following signs for the Big Beehive Trail.

4.1km - Mount Niblock Route veers off to your right, but you’ll continue STRAIGHT ON the Big Beehive Trail.

4.7km - After ascending some switchbacks above Lake Agnes, you’ll arrive at a large clearing which serves as a four-way intersection. The trail to the Beehive summit heads off to your left and Devil’s Thumb Route heads to your right, but you’ll just walk STRAIGHT ON ahead to stay on Big Beehive Trail as it starts descending.

5.9km - At this T-intersection TURN RIGHT to get on the Highline Trail.

6.6km - A trail that connects to the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail will appear on your left, if you are ready to turn back at this point you could use this as a shortcut, however, you would miss the second Teahouse and the glaciers at Abbot Pass.

7.6km - At this junction, you’ll see a sign for the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail on your left. You’ll take this turn on your way back. For now, continue STRAIGHT ON the trail ahead.

9.1km - A main treat on this trail, you’ve arrived at the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. Snag a seat on the deck or at one of the picnic tables outside and one of the hosts will assist you.

9.2km - Here is a junction with Mount Victoria North Peak Trail turning off to the right. Stay STRAIGHT ON the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail ahead.

10.3km - You’ve reached the furthest point of the trail! See if you can find the Abbot Pass hut high up on your left and enjoy looking back at Lake Louise in the distance behind you. Once you’ve soaked in your accomplishment follow your footsteps back toward the teahouse.

13.7km - You’re back at the junction you passed before, but instead of turning left to go back up to Lake Agnes, BEAR RIGHT following the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail down the valley and back towards Lake Louise.

14.4km - BEAR RIGHT to stay on your path towards Lake Louise.

15.6km - You’ll reach the banks of Lake Louise at the furthest point from the Fairmont Chateau. Check out the unusual glacier silt beach that’s formed on this side of the lake as the glacial melt flows into the lake then continue STRAIGHT ON

17.8km - You’ve arrived back at the first banks of Lake Louise! Snap your final pictures or treat yourself to a drink at the Alpine Social overlooking the lake.

Parking

 Parking at the trailhead it extremely limited as the lots fill up fast with visitors. If the parking lot is full, you will likely see automated signs in stating so along the road in Lake Louise Village. Luckily, there is a free shuttle from the overflow parking lot (which is along the Trans Canada Hwy) to the shores of Lake Louise. 

 

The shuttles run daily from May 18 to October 8 and depart every 15 minutes from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The last shuttle leaves the Lake Louise Lakeshore at 5:30 p.m.

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
17.9 km
Duration
8:00 h
Ascent
815 m
Descent
915 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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