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The Lake Agnes – Big Beehive Hike

The Lake Agnes – Big Beehive hike delivers world-class mountain scenery. Normally the hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse is a ridiculously busy one, especially in the summer. But we elected to do the Big Beehive hike in the third week of October, a couple of weeks after a particularly big, early season snow storm so the number of hikers was down. Starting early always helps but on this occasion the trail was also like a skating rink early in the morning so lots of people turned back unless they had brought “icers” with them.

The 10.3 kilometre return hike to the Big Beehive via Lake Agnes starts right at Lake Louise. To find the trail follow the shoreline path west -northwest in front of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Look for a trail intersection and you’ll see signs at the north corner of the lake.

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Start the hike to the Big Beehive at Lake Louise

Follow the well-maintained trail up through the woods. Around the 1.7 kilometre mark you’ll get some decent views of Lake Louise. Don’t take the horse trail that returns to Lake Louise at the 2.4 kilometre mark. Once you’ve reached Mirror Lake at the 2.6 kilometre mark you have a choice of going left and taking the Highline Trail – with a hike up to Lake Agnes or stay right to reach Lake Agnes at the 3.1 kilometre mark after climbing a couple of sets of stairs by a waterfall. This is also the route to reach the Little Beehive and Mount St. Piran. In the winter the final stretch before Lake Agnes passes a slope that gets loaded with snow – so there can be avalanche danger.

The Lake Agnes Teahouse was closed when we were there – much to the disappointment of some hikers we met later in the day. It is open beginning early in June until Thanksgiving weekend in October. After stopping for a few photos at Lake Agnes continue in a southwesterly direction on a trail that follows the north shore of the lake. It’s easier walking now and very pretty in October with larches still showing their colours. The trail to Big Beehive is also well-signed.

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Reach the Lake Agnes Teahouse after about 75 minutes of solid hiking

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

While Lake Agnes is frozen I’m not sure that I’d trust the ice the way this fellow did

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Heading around Lake Agnes on route now to the Big Beehive

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Even in the third week of October there is some colour left in the larches

The trail curves around the west shore of Lake Agnes on a gentle grade. It was well stomped out when we did it and it would be equally obvious without snow. Switchback up the gully to reach a four way intersection. To reach the Big Beehive go left. If you want to return via the Plain of Six Glaciers you would go straight to reach the Highline Trail and if’s the challenging Devil’s Thumb you want to hike, turn right.

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

You have to get to the top of the gully to get to the Beehive

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Looking down the length of Lake Agnes towards the teahouse

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Notice the people in the bottom right of the photo

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

You can see the trail to Little Beehive on the far side in the woods

Once you’ve reached the intersection the climbing is over. Simply follow the trail through pretty woods – at times with some breathtaking views of Lake Louise all the way to the Big Beehive Lookout. There are lots of viewpoints around that make for a good lunch spot.

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

The shelter at the top of the Big Beehive

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Stellar though airy views of Lake Louise from the Big Beehive

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

You can see the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from the top

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Hikers enjoying lunch with a view over Lake Louise

Retrace your steps to return to Lake Louise. Keen hikers might want to knock off Devil’s Thumb as well but with all the snow around I figured we’d come back and do it in the summer instead as there is some challenging scrambling involved. There is also the option to hike to Little Beehive – by taking the trail above the Lake Agnes Teahouse and following the signs. That would at most add about an hour of hiking to the day, and if you’ve never been I’d recommend it.

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

You’re in the company of some of Canada’s most beautiful mountains

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Larch needles are coming off quickly now – but later than I expected

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Am intersection with one fellow coming up from Lake Agnes – but there are also trails to Devil’s Thumb and to the Plain of Six Glaciers via the Highline Trail

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

“Icers” come in handy after a snowfall

The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

This trail is not a good choice when there is lots of snow because of avalanche danger; note the steep slopes on the far side of the lake

Allow four to five hours to do the round-trip hike to Big Beehive. You’re not going to want to rush it with so many beautiful lookouts.

Other posts related to hiking near Lake Louise you might enjoy:

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The Lake Agnes - Big Beehive Hike

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
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Author Leigh

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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