If you're visiting the Banff and the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise is a must-see. It's a 40-minute drive from Banff, and an hour from Canmore. We were actually able to visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on the same day since they were 20-minutes away from each other.
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The emerald colour of the lake is due to the rock flour carried into the lake by melt-water from the glaciers. The lake is too cold to swim in, which is why you don't see anyone in the water even in the middle of summer.
Hiking near Lake Louise
There are two Tea House hikes at Lake Louise. That basically means at the end of each hike, there's a lovely tea house waiting for you, offering hot tea and sweet treats.
Since the Lake Agnes is the shorter hike of the two, taking about 1-2 hours, we thought it would be an easy hike. To compare, the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House hike takes 4-6 hours. Turns out, getting to Lake Agnes wasn't that easy. I'm in shape; I strength train three times a week, but I was huffing and puffing all the way up. To be fair, the elevation is high, so the air got thinner and my breathing harder. This took some adjusting to. The elevation gain is 400 meters/1,312 feet.
Still, I realized I need to do more cardio. There were 80-year-olds on this hike who kicked my butt.
The views were stunning. On this entire trip, I felt a powerful energy emanating from the mountains. I quickly formed a habit of talking to the mountains (in my head, as to not look crazy) and actually got some answers and clarity about my life. When I came back from my trip, I was talking to some friends about my connection with the mountains, and one of them, a Feng Shui master, told me that mountains have some of the most healing energy in the world.
Around two-thirds of the way up, we took a break at Mirror Lake to catch our breaths. Behind it is Big Beehive. Before reaching the Lake Agnes Tea House, you'll come across a little waterfall.
By the time I got up to the Tea House, I was so ready for hot tea. The hike was 3.5km, and I broke out my Patagonia Nano Puff hiking jacket that I bought in Banff because it was quite cold at the top. I felt sorry for a guy sitting near my table shivering in a T-shirt because he didn't know better. Bring layers even if it's summer. Trust me.
What's neat about this family-run tea house is that it doesn't run on electricity, so all jobs are done by hand. They take cash only. Once a year, a helicopter flies in flour, sugar, propane, and other dry goods, which is why their bottled water is so pricey. The staff actually have to hike the 1-2 hour trail just like the rest of us to get to work or to go home, but they often sleep overnight. Garbage and recycling are carried down on their backs! I had assumed they rode the horses I saw earlier, but my waitress told me they are not associated with the horses, which are probably for tourists.
Wouldn't it be lovely if every trail had a tea house to welcome you at every hike? I would be inclined to hike more.
Lake Louise was absolutely stunning. Because I took photos of the lake in the middle of the day, the sunlight washed the colours out. As with everything else I saw on this trip, it's more beautiful in person. There's only so much modern technology can capture.
Next, we drove to Moraine Lake, which is a 20-minute drive from Lake Louise. I saw people climbing the large mounds of rocks, and I was not about the do that after my last hike, but I found out there is a really easy hike behind it to get to a good view of Moraine Lake. So no need to climb the rocks if you don't want to.
The sun was setting by the time I got here, so the colours of the lake and mountains showed up way better in this photo. Isn't it postcard perfect?
I'm so happy I got to see more of Canada on this trip. It's the second largest country in the world so it's not exactly convenient to travel around. Believe it or not, it can actually be less expensive to travel abroad than within Canada, but I will make more effort to see more of my country in the near future. Canada is beautiful.