Lake Louise and the Plain of Six Glaciers: A Turquoise Jewel
The Lake Louise region of Banff National Park contains a network of trails with breathtaking views of jewel colored lakes and large, icy glaciers. My solo hike along the Plain of Six Glaciers and Big Beehive trails was 28 kms (17 miles) long with 765 meters (2510 feet) elevation gain. Quickly changing clouds created beautiful light effects on these lakes and the surrounding mountains.
Hiking to the glaciers takes you over these interesting ledges made of smooth, rounded stone slabs. To the left are the moraines deposited by glacial movement over time.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House is the final destination of many visitors. It serves tea and light refreshments in the summer before winter closes the trail due to extreme avalanche risk.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail ends 1.2 km (0.7 m) beyond the tea house. This glacial ice forms the “white mountains” you see from the shore of Lake Louise near Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Towering Mt Lefroy viewed from the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail.
At the end of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail is the Abbots Pass viewpoint which gives you a great view of the Victoria Glacier. This glacier passes between the rock walls of Mount Lefroy (left) and Mount Victoria (center) then continues down the valley towards Lake Louise.
This lookout gives a clear view of the glaciers and requires a steep climb up a short hill. Below the cliffs is the grey, debris covered Victoria Glacier which eventually melts into Lake Louise, giving the lake its beautiful color.
Another view of Victoria Glacier between Mount Lefroy (left) and Mount Victoria (right) from the lookout.
The Plain of Six Glaciers trail, returning from the glaciers offers a beautiful view of Lake Louise and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Just 1.1 km (0.7 m) after the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, the trail forks. At the junction I took the Highline Trail which climbs to the top of the Big Beehive. From this mountain you get outstanding views of the glaciers down the valley and of Lake Louise.
Fairview Mountain towers beside turquoise colored Lake Louise. The drop below me is sheer for hundreds of feet and surrounds much of the top of the Big Beehive. Entirely fatal if you should slip and fall so it’s imperative not to be lulled into carelessness by the incredible view.
Lake Agnes looks like an emerald jewel on a sunny day. It can be viewed from the opposite side of the Big Beehive and has a far less extreme drop-off.
From the shore, Lake Louise can either look like turquoise or a beautiful blue lake. It all depends on the light and the time of year.
From the Big Beehive you get an excellent view of the many channels of glacial meltwater flowing into Lake Louise.
The Big Beehive as seen from the shore of Mirror Lake. The sheer nature of the walls of this mountain is very evident from this angle.
Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria and the Victoria Glacier can be seen in the far distance, towering over the lake. Later in the day Lake Louise looked a bit less turquoise and more blue-green. When the clouds eventually let some light break through, it illuminated the hills with an interesting spotlight effect. This was a diverse hike, exploring a gorgeous corner of the Canadian Rockies.
For additional information about this hike, contact the Lake Louise Visitor Centre.
Photo Credit: Jolene Rempel and Friendly Tourists (thanks again!)
This post is part of the Banff National Park series.
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