12km round trip
Elevation Gain: 880m
Summer, Fall, Spring
I’ve decided to start from the top and work my way down through the next couple posts on hiking in the world famous Lake Louise in Banff National Park.
The top (literally) being Devils Thumb trail! And what a champion he is. This hike not only offers a variety of terrain it has the best views with look outs over Lake Louise, Agnes Lake/Tea House, The Glaciers of Six Plains, Big/Little Beehive. This hike conquers it all AND it a central spot to complete all the other hikes mentioned above in the same day! Talk about bang for your buck.
This trail betweens at the Fairmount hotel continuing down the lake trail with signs directing you to the Agnes Lake Tea House. This section will be pretty busy especially during the Summer seasons (and if Lake Louise keeps making the worlds top travel destinations!). The trail is wide and well maintained and will come to a little lake after a couple kilometres. This is Mirror Lake which is just another beautiful body of glacier water. Next you will come to a little waterfall and a set of stairs leading to the tea house. If this is big enough day for you thats ok! It is a beautiful spot to have some lunch relax along Agnes Lake and look at the valley views. But if your looking to really feel accomplished and have a kick ass view… continue reading.
View from the back Side of Lake Agnes – Tea House is on the left side
To access Big Beehive and Devils Thumb, you will follow the trail along the lake trail to the backside (inserted picture above). The trail is well marked and most people will tell you where to go if you ask but its really simple once you get going. From there you will start with some quick switchbacks gaining some pretty fast elevation. There is nothing technical about section this just a good cardio session! Once you hit the plateau you again have the option of jetting left to complete the Big Beehive twhich is super easy from this point so you might as well head there first. BUT if your feeling all pumped up.. Lets keep going up!!!
The view of Lake Louise from Big Beehive – Fairmount is right above my left arm!
From this point you will head back to the plateau and where you turned left to Big Beehive you will go right. This is going to take you up to Devils Thumb and take you to the most stunning glacier valley views you will ever see. Without a word of a lie, my jaw dropped when we climbed over the rock section and reached the cliff side trail to enter the valley. It was absolutely breathe taking. Even if we didn’t summit Devils Thumb, this would have been satisfying enough. How’s about I just insert a photo so you can see before going over the rest!
This is just a teaser! I don’t want to spoil the whole view! You have to come see it for yourself!
So continuing on!! The whole way up people were warning us that this trail was very exposed, lots of rock climbing sections, difficult for dogs and really steep. So we were instantly a little concerned. But after completing the section we did not find this to be true at all. It may be due to experience vs tourists with minimal experience. But I feel its important to include both sides as this is very accessible for everyone, I can see how it would be intimidating to anyone without proper footwear, water or experience. But if you have had some hiking experience there is no reason for this trail to detour you. There is a couple rock sections you have to climb over or lift the dog over. But its certainly doable. It does have one step section and the trail is fairly narrow coming around the back side of the mountain through the valley. But I would not call this trail technically challenging. We did have a girl with us who is terrified of heights that turned back at this point but I think if your willing to try it is okay. That being said your only as safe as the person with the most fear. Please make sure if you are not comfortable you turn back. There is no need to get yourself or anyone else hurt.
Overall this day was amazing. We were luckily enough to get parking but if you have to shuttle in it can make for a long day. So make sure your prepared with plenty of lunch, snacks, water and whatever else you need on a daily basis. I personally prefer to get myself out of the crowds and they did thin out the higher you get but this isn’t the day for you if your looking to escape society! It will be busy. Any day of the week. Which is good if your afraid of bears! I can’t see them wanting to be too close to this area! I can not wait to come back to snowshoe it in the winter!!