Banff National Park : Plain of Six Glaciers
Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada travel
The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail is a challenging hiking adventure leading up to an alpine teahouse and surreal views of 6 glaciers. It explores along the shores of Lake Louise, along the high rocky banks of Louise Creek and through a mountain moraine left behind by the Lower Victoria Glacier during the mid 1800s.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail in Banff National Park is a popular activity and sightseeing destination near the village of Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. Some of the activities enjoyed in the area during the summer include hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing and rock climbing. During the winter it is cross country skiing.
The Six Glaciers Trail trail measures 5.5 kilometres one-way with an elevation gain of 365 metres. The hiking trail should take no longer than 4-6 hours to complete. However, the trail is uphill and progress depends heavily on the size of the group, the fitness levels of the group, time at the teahouse and weather conditions. Plan accordingly.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail begins near the chateau resort on the shores of Lake Louise. The shores of the lake are often busy with people sightseeing and taking pictures. During the peak summer months the crowds can be very large. Escape the crowds and begin your adventure by hiking the Lakeshore Trail to the Six Glaciers Trail.
The Lakeshore Trail explores along the shores of Lake Louise following a dirt and gravel path through a forest of trees. The route is an easy-going, relatively level trail with some sections of high stepping over tree roots. Follow the trail to the back of the lake where you can connect with the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail.
The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail begins by hiking up the rocky slopes of Louise Creek and exploring along a ridge above a carved out valley left behind by the Victoria Glacier. From the rocky ridge, looking back, are some great views of the lake and the chateau.
The route then levels out, still slightly pointing uphill, and continues exploring a ridge decorated with grass, moss and, yes, summer patches of snow. Hiking the Six Glaciers Trail includes hiking above the snow line. Melting snow in the summer months makes some sections of the trail muddy and slippery.
Along the trail are a few areas with resting benches. Look closely and you may see marmots poking their heads out from behind rocks. Listen closely and you may hear the warning squeals of the marmots as you approach.
The most difficult part of the Six Glaciers Trail is the section of trail prior to reaching the teahouse. Here you scale a rock wall for 300 or so metres while hiking along a series of steep switchbacks. It is important to note to dress in layers on this hike as the temperatures change as the elevation increases.
After the switchbacks the trail climbs through a forest of stunted and twisted trees leading to an alpine grove and a teahouse. The timber frame teahouse, dressed in flags, serves hot and cold drinks and snacks. In the teahouse courtyard are viewing benches, rock gardens and some outhouses.
From the viewing benches are amazing mountain views of snowcapped peaks and glaciers. The highlight of the adventure are the views of the 6 glaciers. Some of those glaciers include the Aberdeen, Lefroy, Victoria and Popes Peak.
For the ambitious and well prepared hiker there is an additional trail leading to the base of the Victoria Glacier located just past the footbridge located in the courtyard of the teahouse. It is a rugged, challenging and not maintained 2 kilometre route with an elevation gain of over 2110 feet. You know what that means - tough switchbacks.
From the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail hikers can also connect with the Agnes Lake Trail. It provides an alternative loop route back to the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail. Plan accordingly and hikers can extend their hike even further by visiting the Big and Little Beehive Lookout Points.
How to Get to Six Glaciers Trail
Travel to Main Street (Village Road) in the community of Lake Louise, Alberta. From the village travel 5 kilometres along Lake Louise Drive to the main paved parking lot at the chateau.