Mount St. Piran is a scenic scramble near Lake Louise with fantastic mountain, lake, and glacier views (and larches in late September).
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.
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.
1. Start at Lake Louise, 2. Looking back at the Big Beehive, 3. Lake Louise at left and Mirror Lark at Right, 4. Most of the way is on a good dirt trail.
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 Canada sign) on the left. Hike up through the larches, which turn golden in late September. 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.
1. Rock shelters at the summit provide respite from the wind, 2. View from the summit of Mount St. Piran, 3. Lake Agnes and the Big Beehive at front; Mount Fairview in the background.
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 Parks Canada Accident Reports here), so we do NOT recommend the loop. It’s also quite scrambly (more than the regular way up), so not a good choice if you’re already feeling tired from all that elevation gain. Going down is harder than going up because it’s easier to fall and injure yourself.
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.
Recommended Detour: Lake Agnes Teahouse
On your way back… 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 with 385 m elevation loss to Lake Louise.
When to Go
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 larches, hike here in late September / early October when the larch needles turn golden for a few weeks before falling off.
Know Before You Go
- A Parks Canada Discovery Pass / daily admission fee is required to stop in Banff National Park.
- Parking: Getting to the parking lot before the road to Lake Louise closes can be a challenge in peak season. During summer and larch season, plan to be at the Lake Louise parking lot before 7 am. Note that parking is $21/day from May 19 – October 9, 2023, 7 am – 7 pm.
- Parks Canada Shuttles are recommended for visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. See our Getting Around Banff Guide for info re: free parking, public transit, and shuttles.
- You are in bear territory. Review our Bear Safety Tips and keep bear spray accessible (NOT in your backpack). Every adult in your party should have their own bear spray, and know how to use it.
- Dogs must be kept on a leash.
What to Bring
Disclosure: This section includes affiliate links through which I earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
Good hiking boots, a down hoody or fleece, toque, gloves, and windproof/waterproof shell are recommended year round. Trekking poles are useful for long hikes, steep descents, or babywearing. You should also carry The Ten Essentials including: water, extra food, extra clothes, a first aid kit, headlamp, GPS / compass, and map of the area, sunscreen (this mineral sunscreen is fragrance free, paraben free, and reef-friendly), bug spray (this deet-free one contains 20% icaridin and will repel ticks), and bear spray. Carry bear spray in a Bear Spray Holster or Scat Belt.
A Garmin inReach Mini 2 satellite communicator is highly recommended for contacting Search & Rescue and emergency contacts in the event of an emergency, or communicating with friends and family when you are out of cell phone range. You can send text messages and your GPS coordinates via satellite (but a monthly plan is required)!
Mount St. Piran was named for the the Patron Saint of Cornwall by explorer and mountaineer, Samuel E.S. Allen in 1894 (Source).