Location: Lake Louise in Banff National Park – Alberta, Canada
Destination: The Plain of 6 Glaciers
Distance: 8.6 Miles / 14.0 Kilometers Round-trip from Chateau Lake Louise without the scramble to Victoria Glacier.
Elevation Gain: 1,400 Feet / 426 Meters
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate Day Hike | Class 1 – Hiking with a low chance of injury.
1. The fall color around Lake Louise in Banff National Park is amazing – a definite must see!
2. This hike can be crowded during the tourist season, so fall is the perfect time to go.
3. Seeing 6 different glaciers cascading out of every mountain crevasse is truly awesome.
The scenery is so unreal it’s hard to take it all in – you can’t even see it all at once, it’s 360 degrees of absolutely stunning views! As I mentioned, this hike takes off from the Chataeu Lake Louise and it’s pretty crowded during the height of the season. My #1 tip for traveling in the Lake Louise area is to get there early – before 9 am if possible for the best parking opportunity, and hiking without half a million people!
This hike goes all the way around Lake Louise, which in the fall is unparalleled because of the stunning yellow/orange foliage against the aqua backdrop of the lake.
Way off in the distance, you can see the glaciers that you’ll be viewing up close at the end of the hike. When you come to the end of the lake, you can see all the deposits from the glacier. As the glaciers and snow pack melt every year, the water travels through this mud (see the below pictures) and that’s what creates the unique color of Lake Louise!
Not long before you get to the Plain of 6 Glaciers, you’ll come across this teahouse where refreshments and shade are offered. There is also a pit toilet here which is nice to know if you’re taking the scrambler’s route for a longer day.
When you reach the lookout point, it’s glaciers everywhere you look! While we were there, we got to see (and hear) one of them avalanche into the valley below!
And… here I am looking tired and out-of-shape for this easy hike – I really should do something about that one of these days!
There’s a scrambler’s route up to the toe of Victoria Glacier which you can see as the giant chunk of ice in right hand corner of the above photo. Just after the teahouse, you’ll cross a small footbridge, after that there is a large field of rocks (also visible in the above photo) the scrambler’s route starts there and leads up in the forest of trees. The trail will be faint at first, but as soon as it gets into the trees it’s pretty well worn. After you break from the trees, it might be easy to lose the trail, but just cross the field of boulders angling for the ridge to your left where you will regain the trail that leads you right to the glacier. This scrambler’s trail climbs an additional 1,000 feet and you’ll stand face to face with the glacier (see below photo)! This extra part of the trip was totally worth it because of the great view! It was pretty amazing to stand at the same level and survey all those glaciers!
Disclaimer: absolutely don’t attempt anything off trail unless you’re seriously experienced in the mountains and route finding! This is a great add-on to the trip but you don’t want to get yourself in trouble – glaciers are very dangerous but if the proper trail is followed, there isn’t any danger of avalanche or injury. Also, never venture onto a glacier because the chance of death is very high due to deep crevasses and avalanches – the trail only leads far enough to have a good (safe) look!
Here’s looking into Victoria Glacier!
And here’s looking back at Lake Louise way off in the distance!