Lake Agnes, located high above Lake Louise, is a popular destination for any visitor to Alberta's Banff National Park. This glacially fed scenic lake sits below three massively rugged peaks and among dense pines. A log teahouse sits on the shore and sells homemade soup, sandwiches on freshly baked bread, and over 100 different types of tea. The aptly named Beehive towers over the lake and is ascended via several steep switchbacks. From its top, expansive views of the Bow Valley, the nearby Rockies, and Lake Louise can be taken in from the bench in a rustic shelter.
The trail starts from the southwest end of the Lake Louise parking lot. Get an early start for a better chance of finding a nearby parking spot and some solitude on the trail. Remember proper bear-deterrents such as bear bells and spray, and know what to do in a bear encounter.
Follow the paved pathway north along the lakeshore as you enjoy the bright green water and the tremendous glacier-topped mountains. On your right sits the giant Fairmont Chateau hotel complete with shops that are open to the public. The well-marked and popular trail then ascends into the forest over two very long switchbacks. It is sufficiently wide to allow a high volume of foot-traffic. A separate stock trail crosses the hiker's trail periodically. Horseback rides are available through local business in the town of Lake Louise. There are a few views from the trail through clearings in the trees initially, and the views become more frequent as you hike higher.
The trail meets Mirror Lake just below Lake Agnes and the Beehive. A distant waterfall can be seen draining the higher Lake Agnes. If the water is still, a perfect reflection of The Beehive can be seen. With this view, it's easy to understand how this peak earned its name. From here there are shorter and steeper switchbacks along the trail as it meets a junction for another trail to Little Beehive, which is short enough (1 mile round-trip) to add on as an optional side-trip. Continue on the main trail as it passes by a hitching post and a close-up view of the waterfall. After climbing a couple of flights of welcome stairs, the trail then rounds the teahouse and opens up to the shore of Lake Agnes.
This area is well developed with paved pathways, multiple benches and sitting areas, and a privy. Plan to spend some time here soaking your feet in the clear lake, sipping some tea or snacking on treats, checking out the adorably rustic teahouse, or simply taking in the view. The lake is named for Lady Agnes MacDonald, wife of Canada's very first Prime Minister, and the teahouse was built in 1901 by members of the Canadian Pacific Railway just for hikers.
After you're full of tea and refreshments there are two route options that lead to the top of The Beehive. Either follow the trail south of the teahouse and avoid hiking around the lake or enjoy the lake a little longer. Many wildflowers can be seen along the lakeshore in late summer. The trail rounds the far end of the lake and meets another trail junction, which is a climbing route for Mount Niblock, the peak adjacent to the valley west of the lake. Proceed on the main trail as it finishes rounding the lake and begins to ascend steeply via several switchbacks. There is a four-way trail junction at the top of the pass. Take the trail east (left) as it traverses the ridge to the high point of the trail, The Beehive. Here sits a tiny lookout shelter where one can enjoy expansive views of the nearby mountains.
From here there are a few options back to Lake Louise. To continue on the scenic route, follow your path back to the saddle and proceed down the southern slope back to the trail junction at Mirror Lake. Continue down the previously hiked main trail to the Lake Louise lakeshore. These lakes are known as the "Lakes in the Clouds," and after this hike it is easy to see why.