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Lake Louise (lake)

When led here by a native in 1882, outfitter Tom Wilson, the first white Canadian to see Lake Louise, wrote “I never, in all my explorations… of mountains throughout western Canada, saw such a matchless scene… I felt puny in body, but glorified in spirit and soul.”

Today the scene has changed significantly around the fringes. A huge parking lot and the giant Château Lake Louise hotel, in particular, have been added for the the lake’s many visitors but otherwise the glory remains intact.


The bulk of visitors simply stroll up and down the lake front, but there is fantastic hiking to be had beyond, where the worst crowds are quickly left behind. The hike to the Fairview Loookout (45mins • easy • 2km), signposted from the boathouse on southeastern side of the lake, is the easiest, and after a short, steep climb offers a good raised vantage point of proceedings.

For longer hikes try the Lake Agnes hike or, if you’re fit and well-equipped, summit Fairview Mountain itself.

The other main activity is canoeing (Daily 10am–8pm June-Sept; $40/hour) – with water around 4ºC in summer, it’s always too cold to swim!

In winter there’s ice-skating on the lake – with rentals available at Chateau Lake Louise.

Chateau Lake Louise

Imposing landmark hotel; varied dining (b,l,d; $$+)

Fairview Mountain

Classic local summit to bag: 6hr/hard/11km

Lake Agnes & Plain of 6 Glaciers

Hike to lakes & viewpoints: 3.5–5hr/moderate/ 10–14km

Text © Christian Williams

Images by Photo by gino sta.maria, Photo by Harvey Barrison, Photo by Phil Whitehouse