Lace up your hiking boots and step away from the water’s edge to explore the area surrounding Lake Louise
While it’s true the Canadian Rockies are a winter paradise, Lake Louise – the Jewel of the Rockies – has just as much, if not more, to offer when temperatures begin to rise and its turquoise waters thaw.
The lake owes its mesmerising hue to the Victoria Glacier which looms overhead. Unfortunately, the flipside to the fact that the lake is glacier-fed is its, well, glacial temps even in the height of summer. But luckily, you’re not there for swimming.
Here, the views are what it’s all about, and you’ll soon learn that the best way to see Lake Louise is from above. Its shoreline can become crowded in summer, so if it’s peace and panoramas you’re after, strap on your hiking boots and head for the trails.
There are many accessible hikes in the area, and the Plain of Six Glaciers ranks among the finest. It’s best to start early to catch a dazzlingly beautiful sunrise as you begin to stretch your legs along the trail.
It can take between four to six hours to complete the round-trip hike. The first half will take you around the lake and is relatively flat but once you leave the shoreline, you’ll begin to climb a gentle path through the lush, sub-alpine forest.
Once past the treeline, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the shimmering Lake Louise below, and the stately Fairmont Chateau Hotel in all its grandeur.
If you feel the need to refuel along the 5.5 km, 370 m climb to the top (and who wouldn’t?), make sure you make time for a pitstop at the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Overflowing with charm, the stone and wood teashop was built in 1924 by the Canadian Pacific Railway and offers homemade cakes, scones and sandwiches. But remember, card readers and ATMs haven’t quite made it to 2,133 m, so take some cash with you.
The Abbot Pass marks the end of the hike and on a good day, you can spot a tiny mountaineers hut, built in 1922, which rests between Mount Victoria and Mount Lefroy. That tiny green-blue dot in the distance? That’s Lake Louise, your starting point, and it’s time to make your way back down towards it.
For the same majestic views, from a different approach, horse-riding enthusiasts can book a trek from Brewster Stables, whose tours take in all six glaciers – a little less effort is required on your part.
Once you return from the mountain, treat yourself to pre-dinner cocktails at the Fairmont Chateau, yet another Canadian Pacific Railway treasure. The Station Restaurant is the oldest and perhaps most charming building in Lake Louise. Here, you’ll feast on highly-rated contemporary Canadian cuisine in a rustic log cabin and can even rent out a beautifully restored railroad car for the evening.