Lake Louise is known as the hiking capital of the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to summit a mountain during your visit. There are walks that allow for casual strolls and trails that have little elevation gain but still allow you to take in the beautiful scenery that the area has to offer.
Lake Louise Shoreline Trail
Minimal elevation gain, 4 km round trip, allow 1 hour
Trailhead – starts in front of the Chateau Lake Louise hotel
This is a flat easy trail where you can stroll along the lake shore taking in the beautiful views of the water and mountain peaks. It’s the classic walk that everybody does when they visit the lake. In the summer months it can be extremely busy. The peak times being between 10am and 4pm, but as you walk further towards the back of the lake you will leave a large majority of the crowd behind.
Walk as little or as far as you like, you can go right to the back of the lake where the silt is being deposited by the Victoria glacier. This is what gives the lake its famous turquoise colour. From here you can look back at the Chateau hotel sitting on the shoreline and see the runs of the local ski resort in the backdrop. There is a section where the trail goes over a steep hill, but you are rewarded by walking beneath towering quartzite cliffs. In late spring and during the summer there are often climbers working their way up the rock face. As you approach the rocky moraine area near the end of the lake look for the small creatures called pika that hide among the rocks.
The Fairview Lookout Trail
Trailhead: from the boathouse area at Lake Louise, climb for approximately half a km until a junction in the trail, keep to the left and continue to hike until the viewing platform.
The Fairview Lookout trail does have a few areas of grade to climb along the way, but it’s an easier option than the popular Lake Agnes Teahouse trail. Some people can find the tea house trail a bit strenuous due to the large amount of elevation gain over a such a short distance. From the Fairview Lookout you get a fantastic view overlooking the lake and back towards the Chateau Lake Louise hotel. You don’t actually get this view when climbing the tea house trail because there are too many trees in the way.
Bow River Loop Trail
No elevation gain, 7km loop, allow 2.5 to 3 hours
Trailhead: at the Bow River Bridge opposite the Lake Louise Station Restaurant
This trail is a flat and a perfect family friendly stroll that follows along the rushing Bow River. This trail can have bear sightings in the spring and fall, use bear safety precaution. It’s also a popular trail for bike riding. Bikes can be rented at Wilson’s Mountain Sports in the nearby village Samson Mall.
Nearby Moraine Lake Trails
Moraine Lake and Lake Louise are just 14km’s apart. Moraine Lake Road is accessed off the same road that connects Lake Louise and the village. When driving uphill from the village to the lake you will see the turn off for Moraine Lake road on your left hand side. Remember this road is closed to vehicle traffic for part of the year, generally early October to early June.
Moraine Lake Lakeshore Trail
5m elevation gain, 2.4km round trip, allow 45 minutes to one hour
Trailhead: From the lower end of the Moraine Lake parking walk towards the Moraine Lake Lodge and continue on to where the canoe docks are, from there follow the trail along the lake shore.
This is an easy walk that allows you to explore the shore of Moraine Lake and take in the views of the mountains and glaciers.
The trail works its way through the trees offering views along the way of the lake with its backdrops of glacier covered mountains. There is a boardwalk at the south end of the lake where a rushing stream comes down from the Wenkchemna Glacier.
Moraine Lake Rock Pile Trail
30m elevation gain, 0.70 return trip, allow 40 minutes
Trailhead: adjacent to the Moraine Lake Lodge, from lower end of the parking lot cross the bridge and follow the trail to the top.
Hiking up this short interpretative trail gives a different perspective and beautiful view overlooking the lake from the top of the moraine. This is the spot where the photo was taken that was on the back of one of the older Canadian twenty dollar bills that featured Moraine Lake.
Consolation Lakes Trail
65m elevation gain, 5.8km return trip, allow 2 hours
Trailhead: from the lower Moraine Lake parking lot area, cross over the bridge and continue to Consolation Lakes.
This is an easy to moderate hike that offers rewarding views of the glacier covered slopes of Mount Quadra. The trail passes through a quartzite boulder field and then through a sub-alpine forest and then opens up into a meadow just before the Consolation Lakes. For most of the summer months the meadow is full of wild flowers.
During times of bear activity this trail has restrictions in place where a hiking party of four or more is required. Check with Parks Canada for the current Moraine Lake area restrictions before heading out. The restrictions do not apply to the Moraine Lake shorline and rock pile trails.
If you are up for a more challenging but very rewarding hike, we suggest the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. It’s one of our favourites!