Hike: Lake Louise: The Big Beehive, Lake Agnus

Quick Summary

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Distance: ____
Elevation gain:____
Time Taken: 4 hours
Cool points: ____
What it's Not: ____
Date of Hike: Late Sept, 2002
Recommendations:___
Notes: ____

This is actually a world famous area, you should be able to find lots of information on the area by searching on the web. The trail head starts off at the Lake Louise Chateaux. The Lake it self is worth a few pictures. The trail is well travelled, there are many options. We choose to go to up to mirror lake, then to the tea house up by lake Agnus, along the shore, and up to the top of the Big Bee Hive.

"Map is Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Department of Natural Resources. All rights reserved."
map from the website http://toporama.cits.rncan.gc.ca/toporama_en.html

How to get to the trail head

Going from Calgary, Stay on Hwy 1, past Castle mountain Junction, until you come to the town site of Lake Louise. Turn west (exit to the right, on to the over pass. Continue strait through the town site (you may like to stop and buy some pastry, or use the facilities) Follow the road until it comes to the Lake Louise parking lot.

Ramble on about the hike

Well I had a visitor in for Japan (Kise-san), he was keen to go hiking when I offered to take him up. Originally I was going to take him up to sentinel pass. However that trail requires 6 people, and we could not find another 4. The trail head for that trail is very close to Lake Louise. We did go up there and wait for 45 minutes hoping other hikers would show up and let us join their group. However the day was threatening to rain, it was a week day, and there just was no one showing up on the trail head.

We did go up to the rock pile left over from a glacier, or rock slide. It is this rock pile that blocks the steam, forming Moraine Lake. Got some pretty cool pictures of the lake with the clouds burning off at the far end. I had these pictures from the developer put on CD ROM so I could E-mail them to Kise-san. So I Have them ready to go onto the web page. Sure was beautiful out there, whish I had a wide Angle Lens.

So off to Lake Louise, a couple of valleys over. Right out out of the parking lot you come to a fairly stunning view of the lake. To the left is Fair View mountain, strait across is ____, with the glaciers off it. If you go strait down the trail to that canyon, it is called the plain of 6 glaciers. and to the right is the Bee Hives. Just behind you is the Chateaux de Lac Louise. It is nice enough, unfortunately they are expanding it, construction noise, and ugliness is going on right now... and I do think that all the development (even finished) takes away from the site.

Anyway while we were admiring the lake a group of Korean monks were there, One of the asked to have their picture taken with me. I never thought to get a picture of my own with him. too bad, it would have been interesting. We did get a few pictures of the Lake. Lots of foreigners here, Korean, Tiwanees, Japanese, Americans, English, and a few french, but I'm not sure if they were Canadian or not. The list above is only of those that I spoke to on this trip, I'm sure there were several other nationalities present. Personally I like that, it's nice to share this kind of stuff with the world.

So the trail starts off extremely well traveled. Here is a Picture of Kise-san sitting on the roots of a large tree right on the edge of the trail. The trail climbs a bit up, with lazy switch backs up the side of the hill. Occasionally giving glimpses through the trees of the lake, and fair view mountain on the other side of the lake. It does branch once or twice, but the branches are marked with sign posts (no distances given though). Our route is up to ____(mirror?) lake, then to the tea house up by lake Agnus, along the shore, and up to the top of the Big Bee Hive.

This entire hike is within the tree line. The first lake is small, at the base of the cliff face of the Big Bee Hive. It is a nice lake. with falls comming down to it from lake Agnus. There are lots of trails around it. The sign shows several routes up to lake Agnus. With options to go to the little bee hive. (by the way, both these bee hives, are peaks) We choose to go to the left, as it looks a bit shorter, but steeper, and less traveled. This trail takes us through a bit of a rock yard as we travel along the base of the cliff. we come to wooden stairs when the trail gets too steep. and we pass close to the falls comming of lake Agnus. There is a bit of a ledge, and some folks were sitting on it. It looked like you would get to this from the other side of the falls. It would have been a damp, but nice place to have a break or lunch.

Just past this section of the trail, we came to the top of the upper canyon, complete with Lake Agnus, and the tea house. A quick stop at the bathroom (a out house just up a side trail), and we were off around the lake.


The lake was very calm today, and the typical Green-blue of the glacier feed lakes. Typical, but still very nice. Working around the lake on the North side was a bit of a break from the climbing thus far. Nice and flat. Once on the South West side We got pretty good pictures back to the tea house, looking between the big beehive and the Mountain. and then with the valley behind opening up.

I also took a picture looking to the West of the lake into the rest of the upper box canyon.

From here the trail becomes quite steep, with switch backs up to the top of the Big Bee Hive. We had a bit of slow going here, I'm pretty tired. I've had a fairly lazy summer this year, as I gooned my back playing hockey the previous winter. The lack of conditioning was really catching up to me. Oh well, incases like this just go slow, take breaks and enjoy the fresh air, and scenery.

The switch backs continue until you get to the top of the ridge. Turn Left (East) away from the mountain, and head back to the cliff at the edge of the ridge. You get a good view here, the lake and Chateaux are below. The Valley off in the distance, Mt Fairview and Saddle back across and down the lack. There is a small shelter up here. Lots of carvings in it, going back to the early 1900's. I suspect the wood has been reused from a previous shelter, still pretty interesting. Up here we has lunch, lounged around for 1/2 an hours or so and headed back. The day was a bit cool, and just sitting enjoying the view set a bit of chill in me. Here are the last of my pictures (ran out of film)


Going back down, follow the ridge back the way you came, but go left and down towards Lake Louise and not Lake Agnus. This takes you down towards the trail of the Plain of 6 Glaciers, and finishes with a walk along the shore line of Lake Louise. We ended up going on a detour from our plan. as we joining the Plain of 6 glaciers trail, we came in right behind another group of hikers. (Kind of scared them a bit). We started chatting and they were telling us of some mountain goats just off the trail about 20 minutes back.

It was now around 5:00, Kise and I were going to hurry back and go for a canoe ride, before they closed at 6:00. However, he had mention already just seeing the squirrels and chipmunks that he did not see wild life like that back home. He decided he would rather see the goats, than go canoeing. So off we set to the right away from the lake, and to towards the Glaciers.

True to the word, the goats were to be found. They were now about 200 feet off the trail. I was out of film, but Kise-san took several pictures. hopefully I'll get a few via E-mail and put them up.

After that we turned back, we were still pretty high up the side of the mountain. The main trail was further down in the bottom of the Valley. I preferred to walk along the stream and lake. so we to a path down to the bottom of the valley. Once at the stream we took some pictures, the lake was still dead calm. The reflection of the Chateaux and mountains in the lake only slightly obscured by waves.

That was it for the Hike. On the drive home, we took the more scenic old Hwy back. Saw some Mule(?) deer, and of all things a black wolf. (first time I've seen a wolf in the wild in over 10 years of hiking). It was quite a bit up the road, in fact I thought it was a black bear. They had crossed the road right in front of a stopped car, about 150m in front of us. He did not move, and we pulled up beside the couple. Talking to them, we found out that it was actually 4 wolves that ran across. 3 grey, and the last one the Black one we saw. Pretty exciting.

Concluding Thoughts

I have been to Lake Louise when I was very young (6 or so), I've driven by it dozens of times after I was old enough to drive. Never stopping again until going with Kise-san. It is well worth driving 10 minutes off the Hwy and stopping for, if only to take a 1/2 hour break walk around the edge of the lake.

On the weekday it was not horribly crowded, the weekend may be different.

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