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.
(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!
The first part of our trip was quite chilly so we dressed warmly and in lots of layers!
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.
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!
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!)
This part near the top of the hike with all the fresh snow on the trees was magical.
Made it to the summit!
The views were STUNNING – that’s Lake Louise really tiny at the bottom left of the photos!
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.
The water is so BLUE – Lake Louise was even prettier from up high!
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.
Our lunch view:
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.
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 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. 🙂
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. 🙂