How to Hike The Lake Agnes Tea House Trail (Lake Louise Tea House)

The Lake Agnes Tea House hike is a classic hike in Banff National Park that provides access to stunning natural landscapes and finishes at a historic tea house. The trail begins at Lake Louise and ends at the Lake Louise Tea House and has grown to be one of the most popular hikes in the park.

It has a rich history, and the Lake Agnes Tea House (commonly referred to as the Banff Tea House or Lake Louise Tea House) dates back to 1901, while the name itself takes the name of Canada’s first First Lady, Lady Agnes MacDonald.

Lake Anges is a stunning alpine lake set inside a breathtaking cirque formed by the peaks of Mt. Saint Piran, Mount Niblock, and Mount Whyte.

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike (Lake Louise Tea House)

Lake Agnes Key Points

Lake Agnes in Evening Light
Infographic for hike length

7.6 km

Infographic For Hike duration

2 – 4 hours

Infographic For Hike Elevation Gain

433 m

Infographic for difficulty of hike


Infographic For Trailhead

Lake Louise

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike Route Description

Lake Louise

Starting from Lake Louise, the Lake Agnes Tea House hike makes its way along the lake’s north shoreline. Right from the start, views of the lake are astounding, and there is no mystery as to why millions visit the lake every year.

Turquoise blue Banff lake water, soaring peaks, forests, and the stunning Mount Victoria topped by an expansive glacier make for one of the most ideal settings on earth. It is a sight that never grows old, no matter how many times you see it in person.

The lakeside trail is where you’ll see most hikers heading, as it is the start of the vast majority of hikes around Lake Louise. Finding the trailhead is pretty simple to Lake Agnes, but you have two options for the route, and it allows hikers to avoid taking the same trail in and out.

We recommend taking the trail to Lake Agnes and Mirror Lake first as it’s more of a gradual climb and offers better sights along the route. As you leave the crowded shore of Lake Louise, you’ll begin a gradual climb on a wide trail that follows a series of long switchbacks to the first stop.

You’ll get a few fleeting glimpses of Lake Louise until you’re surrounded by a spruce forest as the trail moves around to Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes.

Mirror Lake is the first highlight, and it offers great views of the Big Beehive. While the lake is not as vibrant as Lake Louise, it does have some color and serves as a nice foreground to Big Beehive. From this angle, it’s pretty easy to see where the namesake comes from, as it quite literally looks like a very, very big beehive.

Mirror Lake and Big Beehive
Mirror Lake and the Big Beehive ahead

From Mirror Lake, the trail moves to the right, following signs to Lake Agnes and the Beehive hikes. From here, the trail continues to climb through a series of switchbacks where the occasional opening of the forest allows views of the soaring peaks surrounding it.

You have two options from Mirror Lake up to Lake Agnes, but the trail to the right is more scenic with a small waterfall and provides access to the Little Beehive hike. It’s also the route you’ll want to take if you want to continue and complete the Beehive Circuit.

Lake Louise Hikes The Little Beehive
The Little Beehive Hike

The Little Beehive is a 1.2-kilometer round trip detour from Lake Agnes and not too difficult, so it’s a great addition. It rises to a nice ridge with fantastic views of Lake Louise and Mount Fairview.

On the lookout, a series of large rocks make for a great place to take photos and clamber along the ridge edge. The view does differ from the Big Beehive, and it generally sees fewer hikers, even though it is easier than the Big Beehive.

The small waterfall you’ll come across while hiking to Lake Agnes

From the Little Beehive, the trail can either descend the same way back to the original trail to catch a view of the Banff waterfall coming off of Lake Agnes. Or take a shortcut directly to Lake Agnes and the Tea House.

Hikers that forgo the Little Beehive will catch some great waterfall views before arriving at Lake Agnes and the tea house.

Lake Agnes Teahouse
The Lake Anges Teahouse on a busy summer day

The historic Lake Agnes Tea House dates back to 1905 and has served hikers for over a century. Even if you are not getting tea or pastry, it’s worth checking out the wooded Banff tea house just to get a sense of the history and its close ties to the conservation movement in North America. It’s not an all around Lake Louise restaurant, but you will be able to grab a few treats there.

By midday, a long line forms outside the tea house, and the Lake Louise Tea House is packed with visitors. If you’re lucky enough to arrive around the opening of the tea house at 08:00 a.m., it’s worth having a cup of tea before more hiking in the area.

Lake Agnes
Stunning Lake Agnes

After visiting the Lake Louise Tea House, take in the views of Lake Agnes and epic cirque formed by Mount St Piran, Niblock, Whyte, and the Devil’s Thumb. A trail goes around the lake’s Northwest side, and it’s worth the trek to get a different vantage point of Lake Agnes, even if you do not plan to hike any further up.

We particularly love some of the large rocks at the end of the lake, which is a perfect spot for picnics and do not disturb the natural environment off-trail.

From the end of Lake Agnes, the trail continues up to the Big Beehive, which requires another half hour of hiking to the ridge. The Big Beehive, much like the Little Beehive, offers some fantastic jaw-dropping views of Lake Louise and the surrounding area. If you have the strength, we can not recommend the hike enough.

View from the Big Beehive
View from the Big Beehive

There are several routes down from Lake Agnes. If you climb up to the Big Beehive, we suggest you take the route down towards the Plain of Six Glaciers trail. For those descending from Lake Agnes for some variety, take the shorter trail across the bridge from the Lake Agnes Tea House and down the staircase. It’s shorter and provides some variety to hike back down to Lake Louise.

The staircase also provides some views of the waterfall from another angle, a quick glimpse of the valley and the Little Beehive.

Lake Louise Hikes Staircase

Gear We Recommend for Hiking in the Rockies

Women's Merrell Moab II

Merrell Moab II

Many hikers will enjoy the security, comfort, and value in the Merrell Moab II. It’s a great beginner hiking boot.

Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody

Arc’teryx Cerium

Arc’teryx Cerium is our pick for the best down jacket. It’s incredibly light, and we bring it on almost every hike in the Rockies.

Peak Design Capture Clip

PD Capture Clip

This nifty clip from Peak Design secures a camera to my backpack strap for easy reach. No more digging in the backpack!

Hiking Poles

Hiking Poles

A pair of durable and lightweight hiking poles are a great asset on the hiking trail. 

Gregory Nano Backpack

Gregory Nano 20L

20L feels like the ideal size for quick hikes and scrambles. We love the Nano from Gregory with a hydration reservoir.

Garmin Inreach Mini

Garmin Inreach Mini

There is not much cell service in the Canadian Rockies. In case of emergencies, we carry an emergency beacon with GPS.

Tips For the Lake Agnes Tea House Hike

Lake Agnes Sunset

If you’re up for the hike, it’s well worth the addition of the Little Beehive or Big Beehive, or possibly even Mount Saint Piran for some extraordinary views of Lake Louise. The views from the two vantage points do not require much more work than the Lake Agnes hike, and they offer surreal views out over Lake Louise and the Bow Valley. Quite literally, it may be the most beautiful landscape you’ll ever see. If you are a scrambler, you can also consider hiking to Devil’s Thumb above the Big Beehive.

Please, refrain from the use of the restroom facilities at Lake Agnes. First of all, there’s only two, and there will likely be a long line up. There is no sewage, and a long drop toilet is used to collect human waste. Due to the sheer number of hikers who choose to use the restroom at Lake Agnes, a helicopter collection of sewage is needed to remove the waste.

That’s right, the helicopter many hikers will see is not dropping off supplies but collecting hiker’s poop. There are public restrooms at Lake Louise that we recommend using before you start the hike. This goes for facilities around the park; but please treat them respect the amount of time, money, and resources required to manage human waste would be shocking to most.

The Banff tea house is bustling, and you’ll often have to wait in line to get a cup of tea or baked goods from the historic business. If you want to enjoy the experience, arrive early in the morning when they open at 8:00 or go for an evening hike as they close at 5:00 p.m. Otherwise, the Lake Louise Tea House is most busy from 10:00 until 2:00 p.m. when most visitors arrive at Lake Agnes.

The Lake Agnes Tea House only accepts Canadian and US Dollars. Come prepared with cash on hand if you want to purchase something.

Staff members carry garbage down daily, so if you can pack your own garbage out it would be greatly appreciated!

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike Duration

The hike up Lake Agnes is 3.5 km long and climbs about 400 meters in elevation. There are several worthwhile stops along the way and plenty of trails for detours in the area.

On average, expect the hike up to Lake Agnes to between one to two hours. A roundtrip journey is around three to four hours; of course, it’s very easy for the hike to take more or less time depending on your fitness, and if you decide to go to the Beehives.

How Hard is the Lake Louise Tea House Hike?

Devil's Thumb

In our opinion, the Lake Agnes Tea House hike is straightforward and should be appropriate for most visitors to the park. If you’re extremely limited in physical abilities, it may not be the best choice as the hike climbs 400 meters.

The reward is well worth the work as Lake Agnes is one of the most scenic spots in all of Banff National Park. If you continue on to the Beehives, you won’t regret it!

When Can You Hike to Lake Agnes?

Lake Agnes With Ice

The Lake Louise Tea House trail is best done in the summer months from June – September. In the shoulder months of May and October, hikers should expect to find snow and ice on the trail, but not enough to make navigation of the trail too difficult. Lake Louise and Lake Agnes are frozen in the winter months and should melt around late May or early June.

Of course, the weather is seasonal; every year, the melt date is different, and extending well into June is possible. In 2019, we visited in early June and found ice-free lakes. In 2020, Lake Agnes was not thawed until mid-June.

The Lake Anges Tea House opens on June 4 and remains open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm until Canadian Thanksgiving.

How Popular is the Lake Agnes Tea House?

Had it all to ourselves at around 9pm in the summer (not open at this time though)

Aside from the hike through Johnston Canyon off the Bow Valley Parkway, the hike to Lake Agnes is the most popular in all of Banff National Park. Despite this, you’ll be surprised by the number of people who only visit Lake Louise and who do not choose to venture up to Lake Agnes.

It’s been said that nearly 80% of visitors to Banff, Yoho, and Jasper venture further than 1 kilometer from the road or parking lots.

As you progress through the hike, you’ll increasingly find yourself alone on the trail, and it’s possible to find some isolation along the Lake Agnes shoreline. That being said, if you’re looking for peace and quiet, the Lake Agnes trail is not for you unless you are the first up to the lake or the last one to descend for the day. We took the photo above at around 9:00 p.m. after summiting Mount Niblock. At that time we were some of the last in the area.

The Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse is another teahouse in the area that is not as popular of a hike as Lake Agnes, and it’s another great option if you want to see fewer people on the trail.

Should You Bring Dogs & Kids on the Lake Agnes Trail?

The trail is appropriate for most hikers who feel comfortable walking uphill. If you’d like to take the detours to the Little Beehive or Big Beehive, it would be appropriate for anyone of moderate fitness.

I’d say kids from ages six years old and up, maybe even younger. Strollers will not work on the rugged trail, but you should be fine hiking to the lake if you have a baby carrier.

Dogs should be able to handle the trail just fine. Just keep in mind the hike is over 7 km (round trip) in length, so small dogs may struggle with the length while large dogs will handle the trail with ease. Also, remember dogs must always be on a leash in the national park for the safety of fellow hikers, the dog, and wildlife.

Parking at Lake Louise


The toughest part of the Lake Agnes hike may not actually be the hike itself for you, but instead it will be to score parking at Lake Louise. It’s best to use the Lake Louise shuttle rather than fight for parking at Lake Louise in the summer.

There is also paid parking in effect at Lake Louise now. We break down everything you need to know about parking at Lake Louise here.

Our Ultimate Guide Detailing How To Get To Lake Louise

Cell Service at Lake Louise

You can get a cell signal at Lake Louise, though not at Lake Agnes. That being said, I have received text messages at the Little Beehive.

Is Lake Agnes a Good Larch Season Hike?

There aren’t many golden larch trees to enjoy around Lake Agnes, and in general it’s not a great larch season hike in Alberta. However, if you hike to Big Beehive or complete the Devil’s Thumb scramble, you’ll be able to see a sea of golden larches from above come the third week of September.

Wildlife on the Lake Agnes Trail

Wildlife on the Lake Agnes Trail

Being in Banff in the Lake Louise area, you always stand a chance of seeing wildlife, including bears. Truthfully, the only thing I’ve ever seen around Lake Agnes are chipmunks, pikas, and marmots. It’s an incredibly busy spot, and bears don’t exactly like that.

Please don’t feed these animals, no matter how adorable they are. Every year, we see hikers feeding chipmunks their peanuts or whatever else they have in their pack in an attempt to get a photo, and this should be avoided. Please leave nature wild and leave no trace.

It’s unlikely you’ll come across a bear on the trail as it’s so heavily frequented. Nevertheless, it’s always important to still carry bear spray on hikes in Banff.

12 Bear Safety Tips • How To Hike In Bear Country

Advice on Hikes in the Canadian Rockies

If this is your first time hiking in the Rockies, take a conservative approach. Pick an adequate hike for your fitness, plan for plenty of time, pack water and food, and don’t be afraid to turn around. If you want to learn more about what to wear hiking, we have a great post.

For long hikes, set a turnaround time at the departure. Whenever we set out for an objective, I determine a time at which we need to turn around to arrive at the parking lot or campsite by dark. I would recommend not hiking in the dark as it’s easy to get lost and it’s not fun in bear country.

Always carry bear spray if you plan to hike in the park. We carry ours in our neighborhood, and bears have been known to stroll through town and busy parking lots. Always practice wildlife awareness when you’re on a trail, and please give animals space.

What to Wear On a Hike?

The Little Beehive and Beehive Circuit
Big Beehive Hike

The most basic principle of what to wear hiking is layering. Anyone who has spent time in the wilderness or mountains can speak to the fact your temperature can fluctuate a lot on a hike. You can easily start off cool at the mountain base and get hot as soon as you begin moving.

What To Wear Hiking in The Canadian Rockies

Other Easy Hikes in Banff

Hike around Emerald Lake nearby

You don’t have to be an experienced mountaineer to enjoy the Canadian Rockies. It’s very easy to find several great trails that should be appropriate for all visitors.

We’ve compiled a few of the most popular easy Banff hikes that everyone can enjoy. A number of these, in our opinion, are better than Johnston Canyon, like the Emerald Lake Path in the photo above, not technically in Banff!

Things to Do at Lake Louise

Lake Louise

There are a plethora of things to do in Lake Louise. After taking in the spectacular scenery, go for a hike, climb, ski, or canoe in Banff National Park. Lake Louise is an image that will last with you for a lifetime. It’s hard to find a more majestic and awe-inspiring place in the world than Lake Louise.

Hopefully, this helped you plan your route up to the Lake Agnes Tea House!

If you have any other questions leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.

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About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

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4 thoughts on “How to Hike The Lake Agnes Tea House Trail (Lake Louise Tea House)”

  1. I’m not on Facebook so I can’t pose this question there. We’re thinking of visiting the last week in April. Good or bad idea? Thanks.


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