If you read my previous post, you probably know how we got carried away and roamed around downtown till late on our first night in Banff. The result was obvious, we woke up much later than planned and hurried to get ready. We reached Lake Louise visitor center(VC) around 12 PM where the volunteers informed us the lake parking lot was already full and they weren’t letting any more cars up there. So we ended up taking the shuttle instead, after grabbing some quick lunch at Trailhead Cafe.
Even if you’re driving all the way up to lake Louise I’d still recommend dropping by at the visitor center. They have a plethora of information regarding current hiking conditions for all the trails in Banff and Yoho (not limited to Lake Louise), Maps, etc. There are sporting rentals also available here in case you forget your hiking boots. A big plus is their clean restrooms.
Lake Louse: Turquoise Blue, yes! miles and miles of Turquoise Blue surrounded by snow capped mountains is all we could see as we arrived at Lake Louise. The sight of the emerald green water, rugged peaks and glaciers hits you viscerally. The pictures do no justice to the experience of standing in the midst of this dramatically beautiful landscape. We spent some time simply absorbing the amazing vibe after all, we were at one of the most anticipated location of our entire trip.
Although, I must confess it was way more crowded than we expected, so if you’re looking forward to a peaceful experience it’s better to be here for sunrise or sunset.
During winter months the Lake serves as an ice skating rink and there are a couple of ski resorts close by. During the summer the lake is an intense shade of turquoise, the result of light refracting off the rock flour (glacier silt) deposited in the lake by glacier run off. The color of the lake is most vibrant in July and August when the flow of the melt water is at its highest.
Hiking Mirror Lake: The volunteer at the visitor center warned us against hiking to The Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse due to bad weather conditions . So we started the hike to Lake Agnes Tea House instead around 2 PM, which is 4.5 miles return (3-4 hours) from Lake Louise. The trail is moderate with an elevation gain of 7000ft and is a treasure trove of a variety of flora and fauna. I couldn’t stop taking pictures all along. It took us a little over an hour to reach Mirror Lake.
We realized we had to catch the last shuttle before 6 PM so we decided to return skipping another 20 mins hike all the way up to Lake Agnes Tea House. We didn’t carry cash with us which is needed to buy anything at the Tea House which demotivated us even further.
We returned from our hike around 5:15 PM and spent some time at the meadows. By 5:45 PM we got onto our shuttle back to the VC. The pictures you see below are from a bridge on a the river that flows next the VC. There are a multiple lodging options here if you want to stay close to Lake Louise.
We were back at the visitor center by 6 PM and drove down to Moraine Lake.
Moraine Lake: Lucky to find parking we headed straight to Rock Pile trail that goes to the the knoll allowing you a birds eye view of the lake. The “Twenty Dollar” view can be seen here as it is the exact location found on the old Canadian Twenty Dollar bill. It’s an easy trail with mostly steps on the way up which took us only 20 minutes. Here’s a list of all the hikes in this area. Also, there is lodging and restaurants available by the lake.
Dinner at Banff Downtown: Tired from all the hiking we were hungry and decided to get some dinner in Banff downtown. We really wanted to eat at Park Distillery unfortunately they had an hour long wait and the kitchen would close by the time we got a table so we ended up at The Maple Leave. To be honest that’s the best thing that could’ve happened cause I’m drooling, just thinking about the duck I had there.
I would love to hear about your Canada experience in the comments.
I chose to wear comfortable athliesure as there was hiking involved throughout the day. The leggings had pockets which was great to carry my cellphone and a small wallet. The ones I am wearing are sold out but I’ve suggested an alternative below. The full sleeved tee turned out to be a blessing as there were some mosquitoes on the trail. Also, I loved how the bright color complimented the landscape. Shades and sunglasses are a must. The jacket turned out to be a necessity as it got really cold once we reached lake Moraine in the evening. The Nike runners provided the comfort and grip through the hiking trail.