Home Destinations Hiking Mount St. Piran, Banff National Park

Hiking Mount St. Piran, Banff National Park

by Karen Ung

Mount St. Piran is a rewarding, easy scramble in Banff National Park that offers panoramic views of the prominent peaks around Lake Louise. The mountain sees little traffic compared to nearby Lake Agnes Teahouse, and is a wonderful fall objective when the larches turn golden for a few weeks.

View from Mount St. Piran, Banff National Park
View from Mount St. Piran, Banff National Park

The route to Mount St. Piran begins in front of Chateau Lake Louise. Make your way around the right side of the lake, following the signs to Lake Agnes Teahouse. Pass Mirror Lake, a small pond in the lee of the Big Beehive, then continue up the well graded trail to the Lake Agnes / Little Beehive junction.

 Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Big Beehive and Mirror Lake, Lake Louise
Big Beehive and Mirror Lake, Lake Louise

3.1 kilometres from the start, you will reach the Lake Agnes/Little Beehive junction. Take Little Beehive Trail for about 500 metres, keeping an eye out for the Mount St. Piran sign (scratched up Parks Canad sign) through larch forest on the left. After 10-15 minutes, you leave the trees behind, and the views get better and better the higher you go. 13 long switchbacks take you to the shoulder where you can catch your breath before the final push to the summit. From here, the trail is less defined and rocky, but your objective is easy to see.

 Heading up Mount St. Piran Trail, Banff
Heading up Mount St. Piran Trail, Banff
Looking down on Lake Louise (left) and Mirror Lake (right)
Looking down on Lake Louise (left) and Mirror Lake (right)
Mount St Piran Trail, Banff National Park
Most of the way to the summit is on a good, dirt trail.
Rock shelter at Mt St Piran summit, Banff
Rock shelters at the summit provide respite from the wind
Summit of Mount St. Piran, Banff National Park

From Mount St. Piran’s lofty summit (2649 m / 8690 ft), you can see the most of Lake Louise’s prominent peaks. Enjoy the spectacular views and return the way you came. Although some hikers make a loop down the west side of the mountain, it’s possible to fall or get lost if you don’t have good route-finding skills and take the wrong way down (see the Parks Canada Accident Reports here), so we do NOT recommend the loop. It’s also quite scrambly (moreso than the regular way up), so not a good choice if you’re already feeling tired from all that elevation gain. Going down is often harder than going up!

Mount Fairview is the tall peak directly behind me;
Big Beehive is the smaller mountain.
The hiking season for Mount St. Piran is typically from late June/July until early October unless the area has received a lot of snow. Stay off the trail when snow covered as there is significant avalanche danger on this mountain. To see the larches, hike here in late September-early October.

Mount St. Piran Trail at a Glance

Distance:             12.2 km return
Elevation gain:    900 metres elevation gain
Duration:             5-7 hours
Washrooms:         Upper Lake Louise parking lot / Outhouses at Lake Agnes Teahouse
Stroller friendly? No.

Detour to Lake Agnes Teahouse

Lake Agnes, Banff National Park
Lake Agnes, Banff National Park

From the Little Beehive/Lake Agnes junction, it’s a short 300 metres to Lake Agnes Teahouse. Note that Lake Agnes Teahouse accepts cash (Canadian/US) / traveller’s cheques only! From Lake Agnes, it is 3.4 km, 385 m elevation loss to Lake Louise.

Know Before You Go

Parking: Getting to the parking lot before the road to Lake Louise closes can be a challenge in peak season. During summer months, plan to be at the Lake Louise parking lot before 7 am.

Bears: You are in bear country! Hike in a group (4 or more is safest), make noise, and carry bear spray. Every adult in your party should have their own bear spray, and know how to use it. For more bear safety tips, please read our story: 10 Bear Safety Tips for Hikers and Backpackers.

Be Prepared: The weather can change quickly in the mountains, so always pack a warm layer (fleece or down) and waterproof/windproof layer. Also, bring a hat; the last section of the hike is above treeline.

Fun Fact

Mount St. Piran was named for the the Patron Saint of Cornwall by explorer and mountaineer, Samuel E.S. Allen in 1894 (Source).

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