Fall is a wonderful time of year to explore Lake Louise; the summer tourists have vanished and the larch trees shine a vibrant gold against the snow-capped Canadian Rocky mountains. While living in Banff National Park I came to the conclusion that Lake Louise is one of the best places to visit during the shoulder season. Here are 8 things to do in Lake Louise in fall.
Ride the Lake Louise Gondola
Take in stunning views of the Canadian Rockies from the top of the Lake Louise Summer Gondola. You might even be lucky enough to spot a grizzly bear! A friend and I had a delicious lunch at the Whitehorn Bistro while admiring views of Lake Louise and Victoria Glacier. I highly recommend the Radicchio Salad washed down with a Skyline Mojito. My friend had the Signature Whitehorn Burger and swore it was the best burger he had ever tasted!
Gondola Cost: Adult (16+) $34.95; child (6-15) $16.95; Family (2x adult, 2x child) $99; 5 & under are free.
Visit Moraine Lake
Easily one of the most beautiful lakes in Canada (if not the world), Moraine Lake has got to be my favourite lake in Canada. Bring your walking shoes- to get to the lookout point you will need to hike a short distance (around 10 minutes).
Directions: From the Lake Louise village, turn onto Lake Louise Drive uphill and follow for 3 km until you see the access road for Moraine Lake on the left hand side. Follow Moraine Lake Road for 12 km until you reach the car park.
Hike Larch Valley
This hike was the highlight of my fall.
The best time to do this hike is the end of September/beginning of October, when the Larch trees have turned a mesmerising gold. You will be rewarded with magnificent views of the Valley of Ten Peaks and if you continue on further towards Sentinel Pass, the Minestimma Lakes.
A four-group minimum is required as grizzly bears inhabit the area, however this is a busy trail so you could pair up with someone you meet there. The trail is closed from mid-October (Thanksgiving).
Elevation Gain: 535 m (1,755 ft) over 4.3 km (2.67 mi) of trail
Time: Allow 4 hours return. If you want to hike Sentinel Pass, allow an extra 3 hours
Directions: From the Moraine Lake parking lot, follow the trail that goes to the right of the lake. You will see a sign indicating the Larch Valley hike. During the busy season you may need to park in an overflow lot and catch a shuttle to the trail head. Tip: Call Parks Canada at Lake Louise before arriving to check how busy it is.
Hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House
The hike to Lake Agnes is a popular one and hikers are rewarded with a warm cup of tea and a view once they reach the tea house nestled by the lake. The tea house has been in operation since 1905 and they serve sandwiches, soups, sweets and over 100 types of loose leaf tea.
The staff at the tea house actually carry in all the supplies every day, with some supplies being flown in by helicopter. Bring cash with you as the tea house does not have electronic facilities. You can also hike to the top of the Little Beehive or Big Beehive. The tea house is open from June until October (Thanksgiving).
Elevation Gain: 400m (1,312 feet)
Time: 3.9 km one way (2.2 miles)
Plain of 6 Glaciers Hike
From the Lake Agnes Tea House, you can continue on to meet the trail that takes you to a second tea house at the conclusion of the Plain of Six Glaciers hike. You can also begin this hike by walking around the shore side of Lake Louise. Bring cash if you’d like to purchase a cup of tea from the tea house, they have no electronic facilities.
Continue on past the teahouse for another 1.6km and you will come face to face with Victoria Glacier- yup, that’s the glacier you see in all those iconic Lake Louise photos.
Elevation Gain: 420m (1,378 feet)
Time: Allow 7 hours (14 km return)
Canoe on Lake Louise
Everyone marvels at Lake Louise when they travel here, but how many can say they have canoed on the lake itself? Make sure you bring your camera to get that iconic photograph you will no doubt hang on your wall when you get home.
Cost: $65 per hour for hotel guests of Chateau Lake Louise;$105 per hour for non guests; or free with the Banff Ambassadors Pass.
Visit Bow Lake
Bow Lake is located north 30 minutes of Lake Louise, and is just beautiful after a light snowfall. It is one of the largest lakes in Banff National Park, and even on a moody day, it is a brilliant sight.
Just before you reach Bow Lake, look for a large shoulder to pull into to marvel at Crowfoot Glacier. If you continue on past Bow Lake, look for a sign indicating Bow Summit, where you will find the entrance to Peyto Lake.
Directions: From the Lake Louise village, head north-west on the Icefields Parkway for 39 km. You will see signs indicating Crowfoot Glacier and Bow Lake.
Visit Peyto Lake
If your goal is to see a stunning emerald blue lake, then make sure you visit Peyto Lake. Located only half an hour from Lake Louise, this lake will make your jaw drop with awe.
Directions: From the Lake Louise village, head north-west on the Icefields Parkway for 45 kilometres. Just past Bow Lake, you will see a turn off to the Bow Summit. From the car park the way to Peyto Lake is signposted.
Have you visited any of the above? Let me know in the comments!