Hike Lake Louise for high alpine beauty
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Lake Louise, AB - Glistening blue and turquoise and backed by the magnificent Victoria Glacier, Lake Louise is like a jewel found in the forest which attracts visitors from all over the world. For first time visitors, taking a stroll around the lake is a popular way to spend time with family and friends. But have you ever explored the breath-taking hiking trails that snake up the mountains in the summer?
With a high-altitude gondola, sparkling peaks, wild animals and plants and all kinds of food, a Lake Louise hiking trip will truly be something to remember, culminating in magnificent views. This is the classic allure of Lake Louise.
Are you eager to give the hiking trails a try? Before setting off, keep a few things in mind. The sightseeing gondola at the Lake Louise Ski Resort is located at the foot of the mountain, below the main lodge where you first arrive. I was impressed to find it is equipped with all the facilities you need, from a special Tesla charging station, to cafés, restaurants, gift shops and free wi-fi; everything you need to prepare for your day on the trail can be found at the ski resort.
Riding the chairlift or the gondola is the perfect way to enjoy a trip up the mountain! For those who want to be immersed in nature and feel the breeze, the chairlift is your best choice, and you can reach the top in just 15 minutes. At 2,088 metres above sea level, with the turquoise waters of Lake Louise and the mountains surrounding it, you truly feel like you are on top of the world.
Lake Louise also organizes mountain yoga, which offers a unique mountain experience for visitors. After getting off the gondola and walking along the trail, you will come across the viewpoint where telescopes allow you to take a peek at the wildlife that can be found on the mountain. At the Wildlife Interpretive Centre, get in touch with and learn more about the natural history and wildlife of the area.
Maggie Fage, our tour guide, mentions that all the wild flowers found at Lake Louise are listed at the Wildlife Interpretive Centre and that they highlight the ones that are currently in bloom.
Lake Louise offers hiking trails that are suitable for all levels with the choice of self-guided hiking trails or a guided walking tour, ranging from short walks to full-day excursions.
There are four trails that you can hike on: Kicking Horse Pass Viewpoint to the west (1.7km round trip; 2185m above sea level), Pika Trail on the east (2.5km round trip, 2276m above sea level) and Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint (3.4km roundtrip, 2417 meters above sea level). Guided walking tours include Gondola Top Hikes and Skoki Lodge hikes. With a professional guide, you’ll get to know more about the surrounding geological terrain and wildlife to enrich your hiking experience.
Being able to get a glimpse of wildlife is a special treat. After getting off the gondola, you can peruse the trail signage for details about the local wildlife including wolverine, mountain goat and southern mountain caribou. The signs emphasize the importance of preserving and protecting these species for future generations.
During the hike, Fage warned against tampering with nature along the trails while holding a painted stone. "Don't do this," she says, "birds will mistake this as food because of the paint and will try to eat it.”
Weaving through the pine and larch, we finally reach the Kicking Horse Pass Viewpoint as it opens up to a majestic view of the surrounding mountains. With the fresh scent of pine and cypress, mountains in all directions and the vibrant blue of Lake Louise sparkling below us, it feels as though we’ve uncovered the rarest of jewels.
WHEN YOU GO
- Bring a backpack with enough drinking water. This is especially important in the hot summer when hiking in the mountains.
- Bear spray: There are "bear country" signs everywhere around Lake Louise for a reason. If you do not want to buy bear spray, you can rent a canister at Lake Louise Ski Resort for $10/day.
- Mosquito repellent: when the weather is hot, the mosquitoes will be out! Make sure to bring a good mosquito repellent to protect yourself from bites.
- Book your summer gondola tickets via the Lake Louise Ski Resort website, as well as guided hikes to learn more about the nature and wildlife of the area.