After a beautiful sunrise at Lake Moraine, we decided to head over to Lake Louise, the headliner for this strip. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit my entire adult life and as luck would have it, the weather was beautiful. In fact, it was really the only sunny day of our entire vacation.
We arrived at the lake early, before 9 a.m. and it was still quiet. The sun hadn’t yet risen above the peaks so there was no light on the water. I could see the beautiful milky blue glacial color, but I knew the real event happened when the sun hit it directly. We decided to check out the stately hotel and get information about hikes in the area. We had heard good things about the hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House and we decided to check it….glad we did!
The hike up to the tea house is a pleasant one! You walk in shady forest, past beehive formations, small lakes and a beautiful waterfall. The trails are well marked and are nicely groomed. We hit the trail early enough in the morning that it was still quiet. The tea house itself is perched atop a waterfall with a beautiful view of the valley on one side and Lake Agnes on the the other.
A few things you should know if you plan on eating at the tea house. First, they only take cash. There is no electricity and the menu is small – they have to pack all the food up the trail on foot and horseback. Apparently there is a supply drop by helicopter at the beginning of the season for main staples such as flour, sugar and other large items. The food selection is limited as would be expected. But, it was good and fresh and….expensive. It was worth every penny though. We’d been up long enough that our tuna salad salad and brownies really hit the spot. We were able to walk right up to a table…but by the time our meal was over, the line to get in wound out the building and down the trail. We had no idea just how popular this trail was. By the time we left there was a steady stream of people making their way up.
We could have continued with the hike to the next tea house but we had other places on our agenda we wanted to check out before we left the area so we made our way back down the mountain to experience the lake in all its glory….apparently everyone else in the area had the same idea. By noon the place was literally crawling with people. We had waited to see the lake in the sunshine and in doing so lost a chance to take it in without people pushing and shoving to get a better view. A chunk of the perimeter was occupied by a huge American Eagle photo shoot, complete with models, wardrobe designers, more photographers than I could count and a huge catering team. Disappointing to say the least. We literally snapped two or three photos and left Dodge….as fast as we could.
Our plan was to stop back on our way back home for one last visit. Sadly, that did’t happen. On our return, the lake was socked in with clouds so we just kept driving. Now we have a reason to go back…and lesson learned. If you want to enjoy Lake Louise, get there early!