Must-Sees & Must-Dos in Lake Louise

Jun 22nd, 2015, 11:57 PM
  #1  
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Must-Sees & Must-Dos in Lake Louise

Hi-

I'll be in Lake Louise for 2 days with my four kids - ages 17, 15, 12 & 10. (I have another day in Lake Louise but it's booked for Lake O'Hara, so 2 days net).

What are the absolute must do hikes? Must do activities?

Thanks.
tamaraten is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 07:20 AM
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Welcome!

In Lake Louise, I would do one or both of the teahouse hikes. You can do each separately or join them in a loop. Separately they would be half day, together a fullish day.

I think the Lake Agnes teahouse is more charming - better tea menu and baked goods, but the hike to Plain of Six Glaciers is more dramatic with the hanging glaciers and the full view of Lake Louise. There's pretty much no view of Lake Louise from Lake Agnes unless you climb up to one of the Beehives.

With a full day at Lake O'Hara (definitely save your energy for that day), perhaps do just one of the Lake Louise teahouses, and if the weather is good, maybe do the gondola at Lake Louise.
I'd start bright and early - my preferred route is to start going up to Lake Agnes. I start in time to get to the teahouse at morning opening (9am), have tea & breakfast treats there before heading out to Plain of 6 Glaciers. Then have a picnic lunch there, head out on the little spur trail for the glacier view, before a relaxed hike back down along the lake.
kgsneds is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2015, 09:18 AM
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Thanks kgsneds, sounds like a perfect day.

On the second day at Lake Louise - Would you go to Moraine Lake or would you suggest something else? (or in addition).

On that second day, I can do the Icefields drive and return to Lake Louise, or I can do the Icefields on the day after Lake O'Hara (our third day), which is the day we leave Lake Lousie to ultimately sleep in Banff- what do you think would be best?

thanks for the advice!
tamaraten is offline  
Jun 24th, 2015, 06:25 PM
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Definitely go to Moraine Lake, and get up on the rockpile on the east end of the lake for the best views. I always preferred late morning there, for the best water colour, but to be there at sunrise before the tourists get there is sublime.
There is also a hike, the Consolation Lakes trail, that starts near there. Not too long, reasonably scenic, and fairly flat.
At Lake O'Hara, get up on the Opabin plateau... its idyllic, there. Meadows, waterfalls, and wildflowers, surrounded by mountains on all sides.
kanunu is offline  
Jun 25th, 2015, 08:07 AM
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Hmm....

Perhaps do the Icefields Drive on Day 2 to cut back on the driving a bit. Then use the day from Lake Louise to Banff for your Lake Louise adventures. But those could easily be flip flopped depending on the weather.

It's an easy 45 minute drive to Banff, so you easily make a very full day of it at Lake Louise, then head to Banff.

Either way, I would do Moraine Lake first thing in the morning. There is limited parking, so you could end up having to park well down the road or not being permitted up the road if the parking situation has become really dire.

As I remember, you have a guide booked for Lake O'Hara. He/she should know the area well, but kanunu writes very eloquently about the Opabin area. I had a lovely break there when I was doing the Alpine Circuit, and hope I may get a brief break there, conditions permitting, going up to Abbott Hut this summer.
kgsneds is offline  
Jul 14th, 2015, 09:35 AM
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Thank you kanunu and kgsneds. You both give excellent advice. I'm definitely going to Moraine Lake and to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. There's so many other things too....I just need more time!

Thanks again,

Tamara
tamaraten is offline  
Jul 29th, 2015, 08:05 PM
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Kgsneds, that Alpine circuit at Lake O'Hara is something else! I remember getting caught up there one time, when a short thunderstorm rolled through. DW and I put on our raincoats, and took refuge under a little ledge on a solid rock cliff. I felt reasonably safe from lightning strikes, with a whole mountain above us.... and it was the only time in my life that I actually saw lightning from above. Amazing! The cloud moved on, and away we went.
Experiencing the Lake O'Hara area is simply spectacular, and not only that, you get to leave the crowds way behind.

Looking forward to your report, Kgsneds, as I never had the nerve to go over the top, Lake Louise to Lake O'Hara, but have talked to people that had done it/were in the midst of doing the Abbott Pass/overnight in the Hut. I met some of them on the Lake Oesa trail. I guess I really wasn't keen at taking on the glaciers, and crevasses, given my little experience with them.
I did make it to the top of Wenkchemna Pass once, above Moraine Lake, and to continue on down to Lake O'Hara looked do-able, but as there were no established trails then (nor GPS's - early 1980's), you'd be bushwhacking it (without 'the bush', being above tree-line). Again, it would have taken some advance planning, but I still regret never 'going for it'.
kanunu is offline  
Jul 30th, 2015, 07:34 AM
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Kanunu - I am back from my trip to Abbott Hut.

As it turned out, we didn't take the standard route from Lake O'Hara to Abbott Hut - either up or down - so I never got my break at Opabin/Oesa. BTW, the standard route to Abbott does not require crossing any glaciers - just 3-6 hrs of scrambling up/down scree.

We went up to Abbott via a route that goes from Lake Louise along ledges above the Death Trap (opposite side from the teahouse). Longer, but more interesting and challenging route with a bit of glacier crossing at the very end.

Going down, we went to Lake O'Hara via the Huber Ledges after summitting Mt. Victoria. The route, which is not the Huber Ledges of the Alpine Circuit, comes down via the Huber Glacier and a series of ledges to the Wiwaxy Gap and down. It took us about 11 hrs in total - started at 4am and missed the 2:30 bus. Mostly in the snow.

Interesting that you should mention the lightning - we had to bail on our first attempt at Victoria because of lightning/thunder. Up above 3000m, there's no fooling around with storms, though lightning is quite spectacular at 5am! Spent the day stuck in the hut due to snow & wind - we probably had 10+ cm of snow that day.
kgsneds is offline  
Jul 30th, 2015, 05:43 PM
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Now that is quite a story! Thanks for sharing it.
Not your average, every day tourist experience. Probably a very small fraction of Canadian Rocky Mountain park visitors ever get to Lake O'Hara, and Abbott Hut would be a fraction of that - a small club, indeed.
With regard to the alpine trails, I found it somewhat invigorating to be walking across a trail a couple feet wide, with maybe a 500 foot drop right there. We were very careful, in the few spots like that. The only time I have ever been in such a spot, and it was beautiful.
Tamaraten, there are many kilometres of excellent trails around Lake O'Hara to enjoy, you don't have to go on any of the 'extreme' ones!
kanunu is offline  
Jul 31st, 2015, 06:56 AM
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Yes - there are plenty of beautiful, non alpine trails around Lake O'Hara. Something for everyone and every skill level. If the weather is good, the upper lakes are wonderful places to sit and enjoy the views.

Abbott Hut is visited more often that I would have thought - the regular scree route is relatively accessible. As such people go up for the day or just to stay in the hut, rather than to do any mountaineering. The other hut we stayed in, Neil Colgan, which is the highest occupied building in Canada, is much less visited because it's only accessible by technical climbing routes.
kgsneds is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 12:21 PM
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I definitely don't plan on anything extreme kanunu, that's for sure - especially with four kids with me! But you and kgsneds are really getting me so excited. I'm just overwhelmed with the choices there are and the little time I have (only 2 days there net, not counting a day in Lake O'Hara).

Aside from Lake Agnes, and Moraine Lake, and maybe gondola if weather is good, do you recommend anything else in the area?
tamaraten is offline  
Aug 7th, 2015, 07:44 PM
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Definitely see Moraine Lake- not as touristy as Lake Louise, but just as gorgoeus. If you have time, take a canoe out on the lake.

Also agree with the Plain of 6 Glaciers trail. Bring a jacket and a hate- cold up there!
brubenow is offline  
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