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A Hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers & Lake Louise Tea House

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Yesterday my daughter and I hiked to the Plain of the Six Glaciers and the Lake Louise Tea House.

It’s a beautiful hike but the crowds are there unless you pick your times – early mornings, late afternoons or in the fall when the crowds have dispersed.

The hike starts on the path by the turquoise coloured waters of Lake Louise. Initially you have to cut and duck through the tourists to get anywhere. If you can get over that then you’ll be treated to the sights of Mts. Lefroy and Victoria and six glaciers – some of which look like they could break off into pieces at any time. There are wildflowers around too – not in copious quantities but enough to add some colour to the hike.

And for you non-hikers, it seems you can climb your way up to the tea house on horseback.

"Lake Louise"

Starting right at Lake Louise outside of the hotel

"The far end of Lake Louise"

The far end of Lake Louise

"Looking down Lake Louise to Chateau Lake Louise"

Looking down Lake Louise to Chateau Lake Louise (& the ski hill in behind)

The trail is well signed. Start by heading on the paved path to the right of Lake Louise – if you’re facing the lake. The trail hugs Lake Louise for the first two kilometers. When you reach the cliffs at the end of the lake you’re likely to find climbers.

"Rock climber near Lake Louise"

At the end of Lake Louise you’ll find rock climbers

There are a few intersections on the trail – all signed – so as long as you can read you’re fine. Basically you climb straight up the valley; for much of the hike you continue to see Lake Louise. There is one section with a drop-off – hence the reason for the metal ropes, but really it’s wide enough that all hikers should be able to handle it.

"A different sort of view of Lake Louise"

A different sort of view of Lake Louise

"Columbines tucked into the rocks"

Columbines tucked into the rocks

"Columbine"

Columbines are everywhere

"The trail to the Plain of Six Glaciers'

The trail to the Plain of Six Glaciers

"Quite a contrast between the green and the white"

Quite a contrast between the green and the white

"Mop head looking wild flower"

Mop head looking wild flower

"More beautiful wild flowers"

More beautiful wild flowers

"Skunk cabbage"

Leaves of skunk cabbage

"Delicate blue forget me knot looking wildflowers"

Delicate blue forget me knot looking wildflowers

"One of the many glaciers you see"

One of the many glaciers you see

"Bolted wires for safety"

Bolted wires for safety

The Lake Louise Tea House doesn’t come into view until you round a bend by a largish stream – 5.5 kilometers from the start of the trail. If you don’t have your heart set on eating at the tea house then bring a picnic lunch and park yourself on one of the benches and admire the sights.

From the Tea House it’s supposedly another 1.6 kilometers to the high viewpoint. The last half kilometer or so was closed yesterday with a sign saying that the slope was unstable. I’ll respect that.

"Majestic glaciers at the end of the trail"

Majestic glaciers at the end of the trail

"The end of the trail"

Celebrating the end of the trail

"The Lake Louise Tea House"

The Lake Louise Tea House – 5.5 kms from the start

All told the hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers & Lake Louise Tea House  is 13.8 kilometers long (8.6 miles) with a vertical gain of about 1300 feet.

It will take you about four hours to do. Surprisingly enough you can bring your dog on a leash. I did and saw only a few others – mainly I think because the locals avoid this trail in the summer.

Have you hiked any of the trails out of Lake Louise?

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
HikeBikeTravel
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Author Hike Bike Travel

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 50 Comments

  • Nancie says:

    Beautiful shots, Leigh. I did this hike back in 1973 when I lived in Banff. It is a beauty.

  • Nancie says:

    Beautiful shots, Leigh. I did this hike back in 1973 when I lived in Banff. It is a beauty.

  • Steve says:

    We may have finally found a common point between us Leigh. I absolutely love Lake Louise, and I’m seriously considering using my free Fairmont nights this year at the Chateau. Now the odds of me hiking 5.5 km to get to one of the more eclectic looking tea houses that I’ve ever seen seem small (and the odds of my riding a horse that far seem only slightly better), but I’ll admit that your pictures have stimulated my curiosity. If you ever get that feeling that somebody is cursing you under their breath, you’ll know that I decided to try this trail.

    • @Steve There’s nothing wrong with just relaxing while you visit – though with kids maybe an easy paddle out in one the canoes would be fun. Just give me a head’s up if you go so I can listen for that little voice of yours.

  • Steve says:

    We may have finally found a common point between us Leigh. I absolutely love Lake Louise, and I’m seriously considering using my free Fairmont nights this year at the Chateau. Now the odds of me hiking 5.5 km to get to one of the more eclectic looking tea houses that I’ve ever seen seem small (and the odds of my riding a horse that far seem only slightly better), but I’ll admit that your pictures have stimulated my curiosity. If you ever get that feeling that somebody is cursing you under their breath, you’ll know that I decided to try this trail.

    • @Steve There’s nothing wrong with just relaxing while you visit – though with kids maybe an easy paddle out in one the canoes would be fun. Just give me a head’s up if you go so I can listen for that little voice of yours.

  • Your recent posts of Lake Louise and the nearby areas is really making me want to visit soon. Every scenic picture just looks breathtaking. I love those wildflower pictures. Thanks for the heads-up on the crowds. I bet it’s gorgeous during Fall with the leaves changing.

    • @Mary Some of the nearby hikes are famous for their larches – but then those trails can get busy too. Fortunately there are loads of trails not far from Lake Louise where you can lose the crowds after a mile or so.

  • Your recent posts of Lake Louise and the nearby areas is really making me want to visit soon. Every scenic picture just looks breathtaking. I love those wildflower pictures. Thanks for the heads-up on the crowds. I bet it’s gorgeous during Fall with the leaves changing.

    • @Mary Some of the nearby hikes are famous for their larches – but then those trails can get busy too. Fortunately there are loads of trails not far from Lake Louise where you can lose the crowds after a mile or so.

  • Beautiful landscape. Wonder what altitudes you reach?

  • Beautiful landscape. Wonder what altitudes you reach?

  • Lisa says:

    Beautiful photos! My husband and I hiked to the Lake Louise Tea House on Thanksgiving weekend the fall of 1994 and I remember it being beautiful and not too crowded! That’s the last time that I was in Alberta too – we really have to get out there with the kids!

  • Lisa says:

    Beautiful photos! My husband and I hiked to the Lake Louise Tea House on Thanksgiving weekend the fall of 1994 and I remember it being beautiful and not too crowded! That’s the last time that I was in Alberta too – we really have to get out there with the kids!

  • Breathtaking views, this makes me want to visit now.I never been here hopefully we can go one day with my family.Thanks for sharing.

  • Breathtaking views, this makes me want to visit now.I never been here hopefully we can go one day with my family.Thanks for sharing.

  • I wish I could say that I’ve hiked about Lake Louise! Beautiful photos. I can just picture myself at the tea house after such a great hike. It really sounds like just the right level & time for me. Nice that you could share that activity with your daughter, too.

  • I wish I could say that I’ve hiked about Lake Louise! Beautiful photos. I can just picture myself at the tea house after such a great hike. It really sounds like just the right level & time for me. Nice that you could share that activity with your daughter, too.

  • Jenna says:

    More inspiration from you to spend more time outdoors. Such beautiful landscapes. I really like your flower photos as well.

  • Jenna says:

    More inspiration from you to spend more time outdoors. Such beautiful landscapes. I really like your flower photos as well.

  • I really like the way you captured the wildflowers. Banff is near the top of the list where we need to head next.

  • I really like the way you captured the wildflowers. Banff is near the top of the list where we need to head next.

  • The views here are absolutely breathtaking, Leigh. It also sounds like it was a perfect hike for you, your daughter and your dog.

  • The views here are absolutely breathtaking, Leigh. It also sounds like it was a perfect hike for you, your daughter and your dog.

  • Sabrina says:

    The color of the lake is amazing. Not sure if I’d be up for that hike, but it sure looks beautiful.

  • Sabrina says:

    The color of the lake is amazing. Not sure if I’d be up for that hike, but it sure looks beautiful.

  • budget jan says:

    We hiked this when it was half under snow and arrived just as they were closing. They must have seen my crestfallen face and obliged with a hot chocolate and scone on the upstairs verandah. The whole garden was under snow. It was a beautiful and sometimes scary hike. I agree that L.L. would be great at any time of year. I love your photo of the teahouse with all the people and bunting. So different than when we were there.

  • budget jan says:

    We hiked this when it was half under snow and arrived just as they were closing. They must have seen my crestfallen face and obliged with a hot chocolate and scone on the upstairs verandah. The whole garden was under snow. It was a beautiful and sometimes scary hike. I agree that L.L. would be great at any time of year. I love your photo of the teahouse with all the people and bunting. So different than when we were there.

  • Jennifer says:

    Looks like a beautiful hike, even with the crowds. My parents went to Lake Louise about 2 or 3 years ago and they still rave about it!

  • Jennifer says:

    Looks like a beautiful hike, even with the crowds. My parents went to Lake Louise about 2 or 3 years ago and they still rave about it!

  • I loved seeing your photos from this hike! I just hiked this trail two weeks ago in Banff and it was so challenging but amazing. I loved seeing the glaciers so close up and it was pretty awesome to witness an avalanche while sitting at the tea house. What an incredibly beautiful trail!

    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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