Highline trail to Big Beehive and Lake Agnes

Highline trail to Big Beehive and Lake Agnes

One of the best things about hiking near Lake Louise is that your efforts can be rewarded with tea and cake! There are two famous teahouses above Lake Louise. We visited the first at the Plain of the Six Glaciers in the morning. Then, as we still had plenty of energy, we decided to return via the highline trail to the Big Beehive and the other teahouse at Lake Agnes. If you have less time, you could easily just pop up to Lake Agnes and the Beehive as a separate walk.

Our walk involved meeting three grizzly bears (a mum and her babies!) as well as plenty of snow. Once the snow and mist came down, most other walkers seemed to head home, so the highline trail was pretty empty. We had the views from the Big Beehive all to ourselves. Well…almost to ourselves; A cheeky chipmunk joined us for a while.

The Big Beehive and Lake Agnes loop

This map shows the full hike that we did, including both teahouses. However, you could skip the hike to the first teahouse and just visit Lake Agnes if you have less time/energy.

The Big Beehive and Lake Agnes loop – The basics

Distance: 10.8km (from Lake Louise) 18km (if you do the whole loop to both teahouses and the glacier viewpoint)
Elevation gain
: 678m
Highest Point: 2270m
Time:  It took us 4 hours from the Plain of Six Glaciers along the highline trail to the Big Beehive, down to Lake Agnes and then back to Lake Louise.
What to bring:
Walking boots. In autumn/winter micro spikes will make it MUCH easier too.
Bring warm clothes whatever time of year it is.
The ten essentials (as always)
Bear spray
There is a teahouse at Lake Agnes
There are loos in the car park and up near the teahouse.
Yes, but keep them on a lead.
How hard is it?
Moderate. The steep section up to the Big Beehive was hard with all the slippery ice, but it must be easier in summer.
Extra Tips:
The hike up to Lake Agnes is incredibly popular (and a little boring, as there are so few views through the trees!) If you can, go to the Plain of Six Glaciers first, and hike the way we did. It is a more picturesque, exciting hike.

So, we made it back to Lake Louise. Now the sun had moved, the colour of the water was even more beautiful than it had been in the morning. I am so in love with this area!

Lake Agnes teahouse vs the Plain of the Six Glaciers teahouse?

This may be a little controversial, as most people seem to love the hike to Lake Agnes; But, if you don’t have time to do both walks, I think the hike to the Plain of the Six Glaciers teahouse was the nicest out of the two teahouse possibilities. The elevation gain and distance is a little longer, but you have stunning views for the whole walk. The hike to Lake Agnes in comparison is mostly though the forest with no impressive views until you’ve made it up to mirror lake.

Obviously, the very best option is to have a long day out and do both. This extra loop was just over 18km. 😉

Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive hike Hiking to Teahouses - the Big Beehive and Lake Agnes 

Other easy hikes near Lake Louise:

53 thoughts on “Highline trail to Big Beehive and Lake Agnes

  1. Plain of the Six Glaciers wins for me. It’s a nicer hike to get there, though Lake Agnes is pretty. It was rainy and snowy when we were at Lake Agnes (early one September) so it’d definitely be nice to go back and hike up to the Big Beehive – it looks so intimidating from Mirror Lake!

    And grizzlies too… I keep going back to look at those photos – what a fantastic day 🙂

    1. You would have loooved it Andy!

      Your camera zoom would have captured them better than I did! I took about 50 photos, but most of them had bear heads in the ground…or fetching photos of bear bottoms!

      1. Any bear photo is better than no bear photo 🙂 I really love seeing bears in the wild, it’s one of the things I like most about living over here.

  2. Lake Agnes teahouse is cute though it looks distinctly Tibetan! Now how could that be?
    I like the thought of treks that keep teahouses in mind! Which did you like more of the two teahouses?
    And the grizzlies are super cute, especially the cub. The final bits of foraging before they hibernate then, eh. xx

    1. I thought that too. Maybe the folks who built it last century had also been hiking in Asia? I loved the colours and the Tibetan prayer flags!

      I definitely like the Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse best out of the two…but I think that was mostly because the hike to that teahouse was so spectacular!!

  3. Once again, lovely photos and narrative about the journey. I can’t help but wonder though, how do they get supplies (and employees) up to the tea houses? Do the employees have to hike in and out every day?

    Fun stuff. Especially the bears.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Yep! The employees hike up and down to bring supplies, and if you have to pay by credit card, then they charge an extra $4, and take your card details, then charge you next time they are down in the village!

      All the food is then cooked up at the teahouses (rather than cooked below and reheated up at the teahouse!)

      They are really hardworking and deserved the extra tips we gave them!!

    1. No, they were so far away that it was hard to see them! Each time I looked away, I had to really concentrate to find them again!

      I’d be worried if they were closer, but this was perfect for seeing them, without disturbing them!!

  4. Yay for the bear sighting!! One of my favorite things when hiking is when you meet people coming the other way who will whisper “there are deer (or moose, or bears, or elk, or whatever) up on your right!” We quietly enjoy the sight and get our pix, then of course, pass on the news to whomever we meet. It’s like a wonderful, nature-loving game of telephone! As long as there isn’t some idiot getting too close to do a selfie or irritate the poor animal, that is…

    1. YES!! I love it when people do that too!

      We tried tell people to watch out for the cutest marmot in Whistler, but no one seemed interested(!) Bears are different though! Everyone was keen to see them!!

    1. You would love it Katie…also, I could totally get you hiking here. The cake at those tea houses was so, so good!

  5. It would be so nerve racking to see Grizzly Bears! I have hiked a few times in Whistler along similar trails but I have always wanted to see Lake Louise. Although I think I would be totoally fine without seeing a Grizzly Bear in the flesh!

    1. Yeah, I always think of Whistler as being less wild, but there are quite a few bears around there these days too. All the trails to rainbow lake were closed this October due to bear activity!

    1. Yeah, those Victorian hikers were very smart to add so many teahouses into the landscape! It’s definitely a good incentive to make it up a mountain if you know they’ll be tea and cake for you at the end of the hike!

    1. Thanks Nat!

      If I’d know how good the food looked, I wouldn’t’ve packed sandwiches, so we could have had a hot lunch at the teahouse….and then cake at the second teahouse. 😉 You can never have too many teahouses or slices of cake!

  6. I’ve been hearing so many great things about Lake Louise lately. This was such a perfect guide on what to expect when visiting there. I also had no idea about the teahouses… sounds lovely!

  7. Thanks for taking me on a virtual trek with you. This is indeed a complete guide of everything we will come across in the hiking trail. Awesome pictures

  8. What a fun adventure, though I’d be terrified about running into bears. Sounds like you were safely far enough. What is bear spray through? How close do you have to get to use it? Beautiful shots of the glaciers and lakes. Lake Louise is stunning. Always great when you have the reward of a teahouse waiting for you, Great article.

    1. Yeah, running into bears was the thing that scared me most when we first moved here. The thing is, bears normally know where you are, and try to avoid you. Especially in places like Lake Louise, where there are sooo many people around. Those bears were far enough away, and not interested in the humans on the trail at all!

      Bear spray is like pepper spray, so you only use it as a last resort (you’d have to be very close, and in danger to use it!)

  9. Oh my goodness, these pictures are gorgeous! I would have been staring at the icicles hanging off the cliffs and completely missed the bears. And I can really imagine the reflection in Mirror Lake (even though it is iced over).

    1. Yeah, I have a feeling that would look gorgeous with the beehive reflection!

      I looove icicles too. I took waaay too many photos in the morning! I was less keen in the afternoon when they kept melting and crashing down from above!

  10. This sounds soooo cool. I was recently in canada but didn’t make it to Banff. How can somewhere so pretty as Lake Louise exist, it’s gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Elle! Come back to the Rockies! I love everywhere in Canada, but the Rockies blew me away with their prettiness.

  11. A teahouse awaits hikes at Lake Louise!? OMG, if the idea of visiting Lake Louise couldn’t get any better, it just did! I am a bit worried about encountering grizzly bears, especially momma bears being protective with her cubs. But I’m glad to hear you were at a safe distance and that you were more excited than anything! 😀

    1. Yaaay, it gets even better – there are two teahouses! 😀

      I was worried about meeting bears too, but sooo happy to see them from far away. If you go hiking in some of the quieter trails, you have to wait for other walkers, and go in groups of 4. If you’re in a group, bears won’t come near you.

  12. i always dread hiking, while hiking hahaa. But, once I get to the peak I’m always so grateful I did it. I’m sure this hike would be no different. The views are so incredible! Also, what an awesome experience to see, not one, but three bears! Luckily, you were at a far enough distance to stay safe, but still close enough to get those awesome photos!

    I love a good tea shop! I’d likely stop at both 🙂

    1. Argh Colby! I am so sorry I never replied to your lovely comment!

      Although I totally feel the same way! I never want to get up while I’m comfy in bed, but as soon as i’m out on the trails I love it. I love it even more once we make it up to epic views!! 😉

  13. I just rediscovered this post and how nice that you had golden larches! We did the Devil’s Thumb and Big Beehive last August and really enjoyed them both. Big Beehive is a great view for the effort. Devil’s Thumb would not have been a good idea in those conditions – the route traverses steep ledges with a steep climb near the end. But the view is incredible! And terrifying…

    1. Yeeees! I’ve been wanting to go back and visit the Devil’s thumb (it would not have been safe at all in the snow) but it looks amaaaazing.

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