Lake Agnes Tea House is a classic hike for Calgarians and those visiting Banff. The trail packs in a ton of highlights including stunning mountain views. I think the best part of the hike is that you can sip tea and enjoy desserts beside some of the most famous views in the area. Just make sure to bring cash for the Tea House or you will not be able to have any of the goodies!
Our family had a blast hiking the trail with our 3 and 4 (almost 5) year old last summer. Our 4 year old hiked the whole trail herself while our 3 year old almost completed the whole thing on her little feet. This was definitely a challenging hike but the views and the treats at the top were great motivation.
Lake Agnes Tea House Trail
Closed: The Tea House is closed from Canadian Thanksgiving until early June. From November-June it is considered in an avalanche zone and therefor avalanche training is required. Learn more about Avalanche safety in Lake Louise area here.
Difficulty: Challenging (All ratings are for young children)
Distance and Elevation: 7 km RT, 400 m
Facilities: Bathrooms, Busy Parking, Overflow Parking, Shuttle, Restaurants, Gift Shops, Mountain Top Tea House $, Canoe Rentals
Hike Highlights: Glacier Lakes; Mountain Views; Tea House $, Waterfall; Cliffs
Optional Gear: Child Carrier Friendly,
Trail Rider rating: Difficult
Insider Tip: Bring cash if you want to buy anything at the tea house. Their full menu is up on the website here.
Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is located at Lake Louise. Lake Louise is roughly 38 minutes away from Banff. Drive down Highway AB-1W past Banff. Follow the signs for Lake Louise and turn off the AB-1W onto the Bow Valley Parkway AB-1AW. Then, pass the 4 way stop and continue you onto Lake Louise Drive to Lake Louise.
In the summer months, the Lake Louise parking lot can fill up by 9:00 am and you can find yourself taking close to an hour just to get out of the parking lot. There is an option to turn left into the overflow parking lot roughly 1 km before the turn off to Lake Louise. Here you can take a free shuttle that runs every 15 minutes to the Lake. Please note that there may be a wait time to board the shuttle either on the way to Lake Louise or on the way back. We had not wait time on the way to the trail but about an hour wait time on the way back.
The trail head for Lake Louise starts to the left of Lake Louise Chateau when facing the Chateau. Keep on the right trail above the lake and follow signs for Lake Agnes Tea House. Note that there are often Parks Canada guides there able to answer any questions that you may have.
Before I continue on I really want to mention once again the the Tea House at the top only accepts cash. If you forgot cash and you have already taken the shuttle to the trail then you can take out money in the Chateau.
There really is no reprieve for little feet when hiking the Lake Agnes Tea house Trail. The trail starts the 400 m of elevation right away. This does not mean that little feet cannot conquer the trail but that lots of motivation is needed to keep their feet going.
The climb begins through the forest with the occasional view of Lake Louise poking through the trees. It is not long before you are climbing up the switchbacks. Eventually the trail opens up with a clear view of the glacier lake below. This is a great place to stop and enjoy a snack break and water.
Continue up the trail. The trees thin out and provide views of the adjacent mountains before heading back into the trees towards Mirror Lake. Mirror lake is only a few steps off the trail and worth a stop for a snack and water before continuing up to the Tea House.
The Tea House is not much further but the climb is steady. The trail ends with a series of stairs beside a waterfall. Head up and enjoy lunch beside Lake Agnes or order food at the Tea House.
Head down the way you came or continue to on the trail and head down the alternate route. This route eventually ends up at Mirror Lake where you will continue down the same trail you used to get up.