This Plain of Six Glaciers Hike in Banff National Park was one of our favorites! In fact the 2nd time we traveled to Banff, we hiked it again, this time making a loop to Lake Agnes and Devil’s Thumb scramble. This hike takes you around the famous Lake Louise and up into a valley surrounded by six glaciers. The views are incredible in every direction as you might imagine which is why this is one of the most popular day hikes in Banff.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Hike in Banff National Park is a popular one, and it’s easy to see why! You start this hike by the shores of the iconic Lake Louise. After you’ve made it around the lake, you begin a steady ascent up towards the glaciers.
And as you might guess from the name of the hike, you’ll eventually reach the ‘plain of 6 glaciers’ which is exactly what it sounds like. But just before you reach the best views of the glaciers, you’ll come to a teahouse where you can stop for snacks or a bathroom break.
Both times we’ve hiked this, we’ve had our lunch at the end of the trail where you can gaze around at all 6 glaciers while you eat. From there you have several options if you want to add more adventures to your day. The first time we were here we took a spur ‘trail’ which is classified as a scramble up to the toe of Victoria glacier.
For that little side trip you gain over 1,000′ of elevation in under a mile so it’s definitely a leg burner. It also requires a bit of route finding once the ‘trail’ fades away into rock fields if you’re actually going to find the toe of Victoria glacier. If you’re into side trips with route finding, it’s definitely worth it to be face to face with one of the glaciers from the Plain of 6 Glaciers hike.
This side ‘trail’ is faint and requires really looking for it. We found it after the creek pictured above, and not long after the teahouse. It quickly moves from the open into the tree line as you climb upwards.
Here in the above photo you get a view looking back from the Plain of 6 Glaciers towards Lake Louise off in the distance.
Another option you can take on your way back down is the Highline Trail. We took this route a different time we hiked this, and then branched off from the Highline Trail onto the trail leading up to the Big Beehive.
We both loved this route because from the top of the Big Beehive you can wander around and look down on both Lake Louise and Lake Agnes, but not at the same time. The Big Beehive is also the beginning of the scramblers route up Devil’s Thumb, which we also did the same day.
This extra credit hike definitely requires route finding, but we had a blast doing it. And you can’t beat the views from the top where you look down on both the lakes I mentioned above at the same time.
Whether you do Devil’s Thumb or not, from the top of the Big Beehive you head back down the other side to the end of Lake Agnes. From there you get to hike around this small but stunning lake to the 2nd teahouse of the day. And finally from Lake Agnes you’ll head back down to the shores of Lake Louise where you started earlier in the day.
Whichever extras you might choose to add on to the Plain of 6 Glaciers, definitely plan to make it a long day. One more extra hike I almost forgot to mention is Mount St. Piran. It’s also classified as a scramble, but there’s no actual climbing involved if the right route is taken. This hike takes some time as you’re climbing a whole mountain and it’s accessed by the Lake Agnes trail.
After you summit Piran, there’s a route leading down the backside of it that takes you to the other end of Lake Agnes. And from there you can climb the Big Beehive and take the Highline Trail over to the Plain of 6 Glaciers for a very… very long day!
All the add-on hikes are definitely spectacular, but the Plain of 6 Glaciers is spectacular enough to do all on it’s own. We just love to knock out several hikes in one area anytime we can. However like I said above, it makes for a very long day, and sometimes it can be nice to just enjoy the journey to 1 destination!
One final note, if you look closely at the last photo, you’ll see white specks all over the sky. That’s because I just missed the action when a piece of glacier broke off and thundered down. If you spend a bit of time over your lunch, you’re almost guaranteed to see it happen if it’s warm enough. Both times we’ve been there, we watched as a chunk of ice has broken off and thundered down the mountain.