Lake Agnes Tea House: Here’s why you need to visit

Summer is all about getting back to nature. After our camping in Banff National Park experience, I was keen to keep the momentum going, so I decided to take kiddo on a quick hike in Lake Louise. One of my favourite, easy day hikes for families is up to the Lake Agnes Tea House.

Lake Agnes Tea House: The best kept secret in Lake Louise
It’s possible to get a solitude experience – if you start hiking early. (Photo credit: Paul Zizka)
Updated May 2020. This post may include affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

What’s great about the hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House is that it starts from Lake Louise – the actual lake. And in case of inclement weather and you feel the need to bail, it’s a cinch to sneak inside Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to dry off.

The Chateau is always busy, but their infamous afternoon tea is well worth it. Forget that though. Let’s get into what you need to know for the Lake Agnes Tea House hike!

Lake Agnes Hike

The trail is the same – whether you’re wanting to hike to Lake Agnes or to the Tea House. The hike begins from the paved pathway that winds its along Lake Louise. It’s well signed and the trail itself is wide and smooth enough for strollers.

With lots of  room to spread out, kids can walk four-abreast, jump off roots and rocks and adults can walk and talk at the same time.

Lake Agnes Tea House: Here's why you need to visit
Off they go – usually arriving a full 10-minutes before me.

With the scent of evergreens wafting in the air, you’ll meander past towering spruce trees, wild strawberry plants and tons of wildflowers. I’m no pro, but I spotted Indian paintbrushes and yellow arnica. (But not in the picture below, I have no idea what those are:)

canadian wildflowers
Crazy colourful wildflowers!

Our day was overcast with the occasional drizzle, which was awesome because the trail goes straight up, up, up for 3.4 km. You’ll hike to an elevation of 7000 feet, gaining 1205 feet during the hour-long trek.

Mount beehive banff national park
That’s Mt. Beehive!

Once you get to Mirror Lake, you’re almost there! Majestic Beehive Mountain shoots up directly behind this lake and you’ll want to stop for a photo opp. Expect to hike another 10-15 more minutes from Mirror Lake before reaching the tea house.

It took us 45 minutes from trailhead to finish, with no stopping. (Trust me, I wanted there to be stopping!)

banff lakes
The lower lake on the left is Lake Louise, middle is Mirror Lake and top right is Lake Agnes. (Photo credit: Paul Zizka)

Lake Agnes Tea House

Lake Agnes Tea House – the super cute wooden log house you see in the picture below, is the oldest teahouse in Canada! Lake Agnes Tea House was originally built in 1905 by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

It’s rustic, but in the charming, not dust mite sense of the word. There’s no electricity and fresh supplies come in daily from Calgary, before being hiked up by staff. If that doesn’t guilt you into tipping 20%, I don’t know what does…

mountain tea house
This is the actual tea house at Lake Agnes.

Dotted with wooden tables and chairs, expect you might share a table with strangers, as space is limited. This makes for a jovial atmosphere, which is helpful as there are plenty of line ups if you arrive around lunchtime.

Families with young children ought to pack in some tasty provisions to avoid disappointment, and we all now know how irate folks can get when cranky kids dine out, don’t we?

lake agnes tea house
Sandwiches are loaded!

Lake Louise Tea House

The menu at this Lake Louise Tea House is cash only, but it’s so worth it, you’ll want to pack plenty of bills. From-scratch baked goods include: cookies, banana bread, tea biscuits with jam, granola bars, and my favourite, a mound of apple crisp.

Daily soup and sandwiches are thick and filling. Warm up with a pot of tea, organic coffee, chai latte or hot chocolate with marshmallows. You will for sure have the energy to hike back down to Lake Louise after eating in this charming tea house. 

Lake Agnes

Lake Agnes doesn’t always have that brilliant turquoise hue Lake Louise sports, but it’s pretty nevertheless. After fuelling up, stroll around the lake and see if you can’t find five things to be grateful for.

lake louise tea house
It takes some effort to get up to Lake Agnes, but as you can see, it’s worth it. (Photo credit: Paul Zizka)

For me, Lake Agnes was a hike with no whinging (I was on my best behaviour), meadows filled with all-colours-of-the-rainbow wildflowers, turquoise lakes, a steaming mug of tea, the privilege of living so close to Banff National Park and hot, buttery apple crisp.

OK, that’s six things, but trust me, I could rattle off more. Having a happy hike with kids will do that to you. 

Where to stay in Lake Louise?

If you want to stay overnight in Banff National Park, it makes sense to bed down at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. That way you’ll be able make first tracks on the Lake Agnes hike in the morning. The hotel exudes charm, but can get quite busy during the summer months. They sell out quickly, so you’ll definitely need to make a reservation in advance.

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What are your favourite hikes in Banff National Park? And if you’re exploring more of Lake Louise, check out this guide for backpackers, plus my book: 25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit.

lake agnes banff national park
Lake Agnes is an easy day hike that delivers a delicious treat!

P.S. You also might enjoy:

A trail near Lake Louise to convert hiking haters 

The #1 Hike in Canada according to Lonely Planet</h4>

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20 thoughts on “Lake Agnes Tea House: Here’s why you need to visit”

  1. I’ve done that hike and despite the crowds quite like it. I had a whiney niece with me – and snacks would have been a good idea as it was sit down only in tea house – no takeout which surprised me.

    Love the hiking around Sunshine Meadows after last week’s experience.

  2. We haven’t done the hike but we have been to Banff and Lake Louise. Absolutely beautiful country, even though the lake was socked in with fog! 😉

    1. What a shame! Fog is pretty rare to get in Alberta, too! You’ll just have to come back!

  3. Fun to read your post about hiking to Lake Agnes Tea House. I was one smart cookie when I did this trek because I went on horseback. I do remember the folks on foot being a bit envious that we were making the horses do the work. I also remember that our ride started out with sunshine, then a bit of rain and it was snowing at the top! Fond memories of the Beehive. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Meg Jerrard

    Sounds fab! And what awesome views for such a laid back, easy hike. An hour I think is the perfect amount of time for a decent hike with kids, can’t be so long that they get tired and/or bored, though enough to keep them entertained.

    And mad respect for the staff memebers of the tea house for hiking all of the food in each day!! Would definitely be tipping for that!

    Thanks for the great post!

  5. This is a great post. There is so much of Canada I want to explore, especially the middle and west of the country. thanks for visiting #wkendtravelinspiration.

  6. Always good to have kids on a hike. This is obviously one hike any kid would want to do as its final destination is a tea house! But the views are great too.

  7. Just to be sure I understand – we could use a stroller the whole way to the tea house? That would definitely be easier for us! We have a jogging stroller that can handle rough terrain.

    1. Yeah, it’s not paved, but I think a jogger stroller could handle it. The issue is that it’s steep. It’s a short hike (under an hour) but it’s up, up, up with relatively little flat sections.

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