Hiking Lake Louise in Banff National Park

Hello my friends! What a wonderful time we had exploring the Canadian Rockies and Vancouver over the past week and a half! As I mentioned, I have so many pictures from the trip that I’m going to break them up into a bunch of smaller posts (rather than doing just a few enormous recaps) featuring some of the main hikes or series of smaller nearby hikes in the different areas we visited. I’ll share the posts over the next few weeks, mixing in some of my normal lifestyle content too, for those who aren’t into the travel stuff! First up: hiking Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

hiking lake louise banff national park

(p.s. – Want to know our full itinerary in the case you’re interested in planning a trip too? Check it out: western Canada hiking trip itinerary. Also, our travel buddy Melli wrote a great post about some of our adventures: 10 Things to Do in Banff and Jasper National Parks.)

Matt and I spent the first 4 days of our trip hiking in Banff National Park, which is about an hour and a half drive from Calgary, where we flew in. We had heard Banff was gorgeous and the rumors were true – it was stunning.

If you ask anyone where to go in Banff National Park, Lake Louise is usually at the very top of the list. It’s not only gorgeous (the lake is a wonderful bright aqua color, especially when the sun hits it) but it also boasts some really nice and varied hiking trails.


On our first morning in Banff we got up early and were at Lake Louise by about 7:30 a.m. – it’s a short drive from the town of Banff and gets crowded, so I recommend doing the same if you go. Arriving there so early meant there were only a few other people around and it was really easy to park – nice!

lake louise sightseeing

The first part of our trip was quite chilly so we dressed warmly and in lots of layers!

lake louise hiking

After checking out the lake it was time to hike! Thanks to some research done by our travel buddy Moritz, we decided on a trail called the Plain of Six Glaciers – it’s a strenuous and longer hike (10.6 km) that takes you up and up and up to some stunning scenery.

hiking the plain of six glaciers

The forecast was calling for rain (and snow once we were higher up), so we were excited to see blue skies. It was chilly but great hiking weather and as we hiked, we discovered some snow around about partway up – fun!

hiking the plain of six glaciers

I wore my trusty Nathan hydration pack for all the hikes – such a good idea so I didn’t have to bug Matt for water every second. Nice to have a pocket for my camera (I brought my durable/waterproof point and shoot – takes great pictures) and gloves, too. (Sidenote – I had some leaking issues with the old bladder that came with the Nathan pack, so last year I bought this more sturdy water bladder to replace the old one. It’s also nice because the tube has insulation so it doesn’t freeze in cold weather!)

plain of six glaciers hike

This part near the top of the hike with all the fresh snow on the trees was magical.

plain of six glaciers hike in may

plain of six glaciers hike snow

Made it to the summit!



The views were STUNNING – that’s Lake Louise really tiny at the bottom left of the photos!

plain of six glaciers summit

It was pretty windy and chilly at the summit and clouds were rolling in so we didn’t stay too long, but it sure was gorgeous.

From the summit, we hiked back down the way we came (hot tip: there’s a cute little mountain tea house with hot drinks and snacks in the woods along the trail – we caught them on their first day open after being closed for winter – and there’s a little bathroom outhouse by it too) and then, about halfway down before getting all the way to Lake Louise, we hopped on another trail leading us up towards the Lake Agnes teahouse.

lake louise beehive trail

The water is so BLUE – Lake Louise was even prettier from up high!

lake louise hiking view

The last bit of the trail to Lake Agnes was SO STEEP – whew! We were wiped by the time we made it there. Time for lunch! There’s a less challenging/shorter (but still uphill) trail that leads to this area straight from Lake Louise so there were some families and other hikers around in addition to some nice picnic tables.

Matt and I packed quite the feast for our hiking lunch – check out our spread versus our friends’, lol! We had bread (I found a really hearty European style bread that was nice and filling), veggies (peppers and carrots), guacamole (little individual containers for dipping the bread in), hummus and pretzels, cheese, crackers, and some salami and prosciutto. Similar variations on this feast lasted us for 3 days worth of hiking lunches (we had more of everything back at the hotel in the fridge) – sweet! The cold weather made it easy to pack more elaborate feasts because everything stayed relatively chilled in the backpack.

portable hiking lunch

Our lunch view:

beehive lake banff

We also had some unpictured fruit, nuts, and bars (Larabars, KIND bars, and Perfect Bars) in our packs for snacks on all the hiking days, most of which (except for the fruit – apples and bananas) we brought from home. We usually ended up each having a snack late morning and another in the afternoon. All that hiking makes you hungry!

After a chilly lunch it was back to the trails! We took the faster, more direct trail back down to the lake and our cars, which still had lovely views.

lake louise hike

lake louise hiking views

We made it back to the car tired but happy – we had covered about 9 or 10 very hilly miles! We weren’t up for any more hiking, but swung by Moraine Lake (nearby) on the way back to check out the views. There’s a little rock scramble you can climb up (or walk up – there’s an easier trail behind it) to get some really nice views of the lake.

moraine lake rock scramble

Moraine Lake was so beautiful – a similar bright aqua color to Lake Louise.


There were a lot of hiking trails around, too – I bet it would also be a really cool spot to explore! If you want to hike you’d do best to arrive early, though – it gets really crowded and parking can be hard.

Such a fun day – put hiking Lake Louise and/or Morraine Lake on your bucket list if you are ever in the area! Keep your eyes peeled while driving back to the town of Banff, too – there was all sorts of wildlife around. :)

what animals will i see driving in banff

Many more recaps to come – stay tuned!

Do you prefer hiking in cold or warm weather? I like cold but sunny weather for hiking – not TOO cold though. :)


  1. 1

    SUCH beautiful pics

  2. 2

    AHHHHHHH these posts are making me so happy! I’m still so thrilled you made it to both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake – that water is not to be missed. ALSO – mad props for you guys doing both hikes around Louise. I’ve only done either hike, but not both on the same day. Hiking hero!

  3. 4

    That blue water is just breathtaking! I love love love hiking and want to go to Yellowstone next. We went to Glacier last summer and it was the most beautiful place ever. I prefer hiking in colder temps, because I hate being too hot at the start, which is the same way I feel about running!

  4. 6

    Oh my gosh that water is beautiful, thank you for sharing the pictures! I want to go swimming in it! I’m sure I’d freeze though!

  5. 8

    These photos are amazing friend- looks like it was such a beautiful and peaceful country to explore. I’ve only ever been the falls but it makes me want to explore further west- can’t wait to see more :)

  6. 10

    Wow that water is sooo aqua! So so beautiful! Wow how did you guys manage to get down that steep part without falling?! I’d be terrified!

  7. 11

    So happy you got to see Lake Louise, we were there this past winter and even with snow and cold temps it was stunning!! It’s always been on my bucket list (we are from Central Canada -Ottawa) and I was so nervous it was built up in my mind, but once we got there, people were skating, there were ice sculptures and it was just breath taking! Wish you had stayed in Canmore, WAAAAYYY less touristy then Banff, but Banff it still pretty cool….

  8. 13

    I did Jasper and Banff twice a few years back and I love both places!!! The views really are breath taking and like no other. I’ve done a large amount of the National parks in the US and Yosemite is one of the all time best. Put that on your bucket list as well!

  9. 15
    Roadrunner says

    Looks positively awesome, Anne. Hat’s off to the hikers!

  10. 16

    Wow, the color of that water… and your jacket matches it perfectly ;) I spy some definite holiday card photos :)

  11. 18

    Ahh! amazing! Looks like New Zealand ;)
    I prefer hiking in colder weather and taking off layers as you go!

  12. 19

    I am headed to Banff at the end of September. We’re actually flying to Seattle for a few days, then taking a train up to Vancouver where we’ll rent a car and drive to Jasper and Banff. Unfortunately we’ll only have a day or two in Banff but I can’t wait to see Lake Louise in person. The bears….not so much. #FREAKINGOUTABOUTGRIZZLIES

    • 20

      Buy some bear spray! And be loud so you don’t surprise them – they won’t want to come anywhere near you. They are only dangerous if you sneak up on them by accident! Have fun!!

  13. 21

    I have a trip planned for June 7-11 this year and was wondering if the lakes would still be frozen and I would miss this aqua beauty. After seeing your post and that you went in first week of June last year, I feel a sense of relief :)

  14. 23


    Thank you for the very helpful information! My wife and I will be going to Banff this June! Quick question, what type of gloves did you and Matt use for the trip?? Thanks!

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