Location: Banff National Park – Alberta, Canada
Destination: Mount St. Piran
Distance: 8.0 Miles / 13.0 Kilometers Round-trip from Chateau Lake Louise without taking the alternate route down the backside.
Elevation Gain: 2,700 Feet / 823 Meters
Difficulty: Moderate Day Hike | Class 1 – Hiking with a low chance of injury
As far as I can tell, Mount St. Piran is no longer an official trail, but we found the trail condition to be very good. As you follow the Lake Agnes trail, you will come to a sign for the Little Beehive. The trail for Piran branches off to the left as you make your way toward Little Beehive. You can find detailed instructions in Alan Kane’s book – Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. Even though it’s now considered a scramble, there isn’t any actual scrambling involved, just non-technical hiking right to the top!
Everywhere in Banff seems to be lit up with golden larch trees during the fall. The fall color at Lake Louise was a little extra special due to the aqua color of the lake. As you leave the tree line in this hike, Lake Louise will emerge below, and the views will just keep getting better.
You’ll know you’ve reached the top when you come across all the big cairns. One of them is built like a shelter, and it’s a great place to eat your lunch.
We took the alternate way down the backside of Piran that creates a loop, leading you to Lake Agnes and the teahouse. We first attempted this on a whim a couple of years back when we noticed a trail off the backside, and we quickly lost the trail when we encountered boulders and what looked like cliffs. We did find our own way down the backside on that first attempt, it wasn’t quite as easy as it could’ve been, but there was some good scree skiing involved!
After that hike, we read up on where in the world this ‘alternate route’ was supposed to exist. This trip we decided to give it one more go – right where we lost the trail on the first trip was the actual route. It looks as though it’s going to lead you over a cliff, but as it turns out, appearances are deceiving. The route picks it’s way through the rocky rubble, (see above picture) and there were no cliffs encountered.
If you take the loop, you’ll come out right here at the end of Lake Agnes. If you look closely, you can barely see the teahouse at the end of the lake. From the lake, the trail leads you right back to Lake Louise. If you’re lucky the sun will be setting, creating the most amazing glow across the milky glacial water!
See you next week for another a glacier adventure in the Lake Louise area!