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10 Things to KNOW Before Hiking Lake Agnes Tea House

10 Things to KNOW Before Hiking Lake Agnes Tea House

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The Lake Agnes Tea House hike is easily one of the most popular trails in Lake Louise. For one, the hike is only moderately difficult, and two, the views along the way and at Lake Agnes are absolutely stunning!

From staring down at Lake Louise to sipping tea with mirror-like reflections, Lake Agnes Tea House is truly one of the most beautiful places in Banff National Park.

If this hasn’t already got you excited, then I’m sure that reading the rest of this blog sure will!

In it, I’ll explain everything you need to know before you hike to Lake Agnes Tea House and what to expect on the trail. I’ll also share some tips on hiking Lake Agnes Trail and how to stay safe doing so.

1. Lake Agnes Tea House Trail Overview

Distance: 3.6 kilometers (2.2 miles) one way, 7.2 kilometers return

Elevation gain: 400 meters (1312 feet)

Difficulty: Medium

Time needed: 4 to 5 hours

Lake Agnes Tea House is a historic tea house in Banff National Park. Built in 1901 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the tea house was created as a refuge for hikers and began serving delicious teas in 1905. Today, visiting is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise!

The tea house is one of two in Lake Louise with the other being the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. These days, Lake Louise isn’t as remote as it once was and the tea house now acts as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Banff.

The trail to Lake Agnes Tea House from Lake Louise isn’t overly difficult and the terrain in summer is not technical. With that said, there is a hefty elevation gain that will catch some hikers by surprise.

2. Lake Agnes Hike FAQs

Views of the mountains on the first half of the Lake Agnes Tea House hike
The views on the first half of the trail!
Bailey poses for a photo on the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail
When is Lake Agnes Tea House open?

Lake Agnes Tea House opens in June and closes at Thanksgiving in the middle of October. During this time, they are open from 8 am to 5 pm.

How long does it take to hike Lake Agnes Tea House Trail?

With a nice stop at Lake Agnes and possibly a tea, it takes around 5 hours total. Be warned though, the later you go the busier the tea house gets and the longer you’ll wait in the line!

Can you hike to Lake Agnes in the winter?

Yes you can, however, in the winter, you’ll need snowshoes to reach Lake Agnes. Also, some alpine experience is recommended.

Can you take dogs on Lake Agnes Tea House Trail?

Yes, you can so long as they are kept on a leash and you pick up after them!

3. What to Pack to Hike to Lake Agnes

A dog poses for a photo at Lake Agnes on a sunny summers day in Banff National Park
Don’t forget to bring your best friend
Sitting back and watching time go by at Lake Agnes

Cash – Lake Agnes Tea House only excepts cash. So, if you want to enjoy a nice cup of tea and maybe even dessert, be sure to bring some along. For reference, a cup of tea is around $4 and a dessert is around $5. There is a photo below of the full menu.

Water bottle – A 1-liter water bottle should suffice as there are places to fill at Lake Agnes.

Bear Spray – Yep, you’re in bear country so bear spray is something all hikers should carry on the trail to Lake Agnes.

Warm clothes – Lake Agnes is much higher than Lake Louise and can be exposed to the winds. Be prepared and bring extra layers.

Canada Parks Pass – You’ll need this displayed in your car to park at the parking lot and to enter Banff National Park for that matter. No need to bring it on the trail though!

Good shoes – In June when the tea house opens the trail is covered in snow. Hiking boots are the suggested footwear, so if you have them, bring them. If you don’t, runners will suffice but be careful.

4. Lake Agnes Tea House Menu

Lake Agnes Tea House Menu

Lake Agnes Tea House’s menu will change from year to year, however, the above menu gives you a rough idea of what they have on offer! This was their exact menu in June 2020.

The food at the Lake Agnes Teahouse is actually really good and earns it a top spot as one of the best restaurants in Lake Louise.

Note: Visiting the teahouse is one of the best free things to do in Banff National Park, however, if you want to enjoy any of their yummy treats or a cup of tea, you’ll need to come prepared with some cash!

5. Parking and the Lake Agnes Tea House Trailhead

Starting the Lake Agnes Tea House hike from Chateau Lake Louise
Starting the trail!

Lake Agnes Tea House Trail starts from the Lake Louise foreshore just in front of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel. Unfortunately, getting a parking spot at Lake Louise in the summer can be nearly impossible unless you arrive at around 8 am. So, if you’re not an early riser it might be best to take one of the shuttles provided by Parks Canada or tour companies.

You can read all about the different shuttles available on the Parks Canada website.

Once you worked out how to get parking at Lake Louise or take the shuttle, getting to the trailhead is easy. Simply walk to the far end (from the parking lot side) of the boardwalk of Lake Louise. There, you’ll see a sign with Lake Agnes Tea House on it. It’s really easy to find and if you can’t, just ask!

Related Read: Heading to Banff next? Read about the best stops on the drive from Lake Louise to Banff!

6. Hiking to Big Beehive and Mirror Lakes

Once on the trail, you’re in for a bit of a slug before you get any views. This first part of the trail (and the rest) is straight-up at a steady incline. It eventually turns into a large switchback and as you get higher, the views get much better.

The first place Bailey and I stopped was at the first switchback. Here, if you look through the trees you get views of Lake Louise. I know this may sound crazy, but from above Lake Louise is even bluer!  

Looking down at a canoe on Lake Louise from the Lake Agnes Tea House Hike
Look at that water!

Shortly after you’ll head inland to an area that (even in June) will be covered in snow. On my last visit, this section was completely under snow and I really regretted wearing my runners and not my hiking boots!

Finally, you’ll come to the Big Beehive. This large mountain sits above Mirror Lakes and it only takes one look to see how it got its name – it literally looks like a beehive!

7. Onto Lake Agnes Tea House

The Lake Agnes Tea House taken from a seating area at the lake
A tea house in pure heaven!
A lady stands on a rock in Lake Agnes and poses for a photo while staring out at the mountains on a sunny day in Banff National Park
We couldn’t stop staring!

After the Big Beehive the trail gets narrow and with the snow, it was actually really slippery and hard to get past hikers coming the other way! Let’s hope you have warmer weather!

It only took another 15 minutes to reach Lake Agnes from the Big Beehive but first, you’ll come to a stunning waterfall! Here is a great place to fill your water bottle in running water before you take a set of stairs to Lake Agnes Tea House.

If you plan on getting some tea or food, I’d line up straight away at the tea house. In the summer months, those who don’t arrive early are often greeted with a huge line out the door and down the trail. If this is your case, it may be better to skip the tea and just enjoy the views.

Now that you’ve made it the hard part is over and by now you should be getting some great photos of Lake Agnes. However, for those who want to go further you can hike down the valley along Lake Agnes…

8. Hiking Further Through the Valley

A panoramic view of the ice and snow on the trail that leads past the Lake Agnes Tea house to a viewpoint
There was lots of snow so it was hard to go further! You can see the trail that I talk about below to your right along the frozen part of the lake.

Hiking further along Lake Agnes is a popular thing to do especially once most of the snow has melted. This short trail leads you along the edge of Lake Agnes just past the toilet. I personally hiked on further, however, after a few hundred meters the snow became too difficult to navigate in runners.

If you do choose to keep going, there is a viewpoint to check out. From the tea house it’s around 500 meters away. Without lots of snow, it’s only a short detour.

9. Add a Visit to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House

views on the Plain of Six Glaciers trail
Views along the trail!

If you’re a keen hiker and want to turn your day into an even more epic adventure then consider hiking the loop to the Plain of Six Glaciers.

The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House is a much less popular tea house but it’s just as beautiful. From Lake Agnes, you can hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House simply by crossing the small wooden bridge in front of Lake Agnes Tea House and following the trail signs. The trail then loops back to Lake Louise via another trail. This is a popular route and is sign-posted so you won’t get lost.

The total loop is 14.6 kilometers and this hike ends back at Lake Louise via the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail. You’ll need at least 6 to 7 hours to complete the loop with stops. Also, this trail is much more remote so be sure to pack accordingly and bring your bear spray!

10. Essential Info You Need to Know

Views of the valley from the Lake Agnes Tea House hike
The views from the trail!

Lake Agnes Tea House is busy

In summer, hundreds of people hike to Lake Agnes Tea House hoping to have warm tea in a magical setting. Unfortunately, this means huge lines and wait times.

My advice? Get to the tea house early by leaving at around 8 am. This will not only make getting a parking spot at Lake Louise easier but you may be able to skip the lines completely at the tea house too.

You’re in bear country

On the Lake Agnes Trail, it’s possible to encounter a bear. Always make noise, hike in groups, and carry bear spray. If you plan on hiking the Plain of Six Glaciers then this is even more important.

Parks Canada Pass

When parking at Lake Louise be sure to have your Parks Canada Pass displayed on your dash or window. Without it, you will be fined. You don’t need to carry it on you when you go hiking, just leave it in the car.

Dress for all weather

Even on a hot summer’s day, cool winds can drop temperatures dramatically at Lake Agnes. Be sure to bring some warm clothes no matter the weather forecast.

Canada Travel Essentials

Bailey stands on a mountain in essential gear for the Canadian Rockies
A windproof jacket and Buff will save you in the mountains!

Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.

Crampons: In winter, crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $37 CAD and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!

Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part, though? It comes in pink!

Bear bells: These are a must, and for the price, you shouldn’t hike without them. The bear bells I use are only $9 CAD and they come with a silencer (a must) so you can easily travel with them.

Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.

Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.

Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment, so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.

Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in handy so many times, especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $25 CAD and they serve my basic needs without any issues!

Before you go…

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie on the Lake Agnes Tea House Hike
Thanks for reading!

Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is without a doubt one of the most beautiful hikes in Banff National Park. Personally, I’d say it’s my favorite short hike in the park! The best part is that with an early wakeup you can enjoy the tea house without the crowds!

Thanks so much for reading! If you loved this blog then I’m almost certain you’ll love our other Canada blogs or these related blogs below!

Guide to Parking at Lake Louise

Grassi Lakes Trail Guide

Icefields Parkway road trip guide

3 day Banff Itinerary


Grassi Lakes Hike – Epic Views and Crystal Clear Lakes
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