Discover the Seven Wonders of Lake Louise (and more) on a guided hike at Lake Louise Ski Resort & Summer Gondola.
Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time in Banff National Park, you will learn something new when you hike with a guide. And what better place to hike than Lake Louise? With the spectacular Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, your professional guide will answer all your questions about the landscape, and plants and animals that live there (making it a great experience when hiking with curious kids!).
Lake Louise Ski Resort & Summer Gondola has three guided hikes that leave from the top of the gondola:
- The 45-minute long Trail of the Great Bear is a bear awareness walk and talk suitable for all ages Difficulty: Easy (30 metres elevation gain)
- Trail of Ice and Fire (2 hours) focuses on the geology and geography of the area. Difficulty: Moderate (133 metres elevation gain)
- Trail of 7 Wonders (3.5 hours, ages 8 & up) features seven endangered/threatened species of Lake Louise and how we can help them. Difficulty: Moderate (200 metres elevation gain)
Partnership Disclosure: Lake Louise Ski Resort & Summer Gondola hosted us for review purposes, but all words and opinions are my own.
Trail of 7 Wonders Guided Hike
On our recent trip to Lake Louise Ski Resort & Summer Gondola, we signed up for the Trail of 7 Wonders guided hike. After meeting our guide, Tibor, at the Wildlife Interpretive Centre, a short 400-metre walk from the top of the gondola, we head out beyond the electric fence to the hit the trail. “Do you have bear spray?” Tibor asks hikers passing by. A woman in the group nods yes, but since the canister isn’t visible, he advises her to keep it handy.
Bears are frequently seen at Lake Louise Ski Resort, so Tibor works hard to educate hikers on keeping themselves – and bears – safe (a fed bear is a dead bear). He has worked with bears in various capacities from doing bear counts and aversion conditioning (specific tactics to reduce chances of human-bear conflicts), to relocating problem bears and admits it is sometimes harder training humans than bears. If you’ve never seen a bear, it’s easy to think they’re not around, but in this part of the Rockies, they’re always around! “A bear dug up a ground squirrel right there,” Tibor exclaims as he points out a large hole near the gate we just passed through.
We go over what to do in the event we see a bear (stay close together and don’t run!) and learn how many grizzly bears are currently in Alberta; how huge their range is; and how they, like many animals, are affected by habitat loss and climate change. While most of the Seven Wonders are endangered animals, the Alberta grizzly bear population has increased from 700 to 900 bears over the past several years, so that’s proof that connectivity of wildlife corridors is helping. Ways that individuals can help bears include “not speeding and packing out trash.”
My kids are advised there will be a quiz at the end to get back on the gondola, so they listen carefully and memorize The Seven Wonders which include a few more mammals (hint: one is the kind of animal Sven from Frozen is), a tree, amphibian, and fish. Although they don’t love hiking, they are still very interested in wildlife and flowers, so they chime in from time to time with questions. We are shown the favorite food of caribou, and how to identify the four main types of trees that grow in Lake Louise.
Near the top of Pika Trail, we have lunch at a gorgeous viewpoint that is directly across from Mount Temple and Lake Louise. It’s amazing to have this picnic spot all to ourselves on a gorgeous, sunny day! With fireweed in bloom, the slopes are a vibrant shade of fuschia.
As we make our way down the mountain, some young bucks walk out of the woods to graze on fireweed. In spring, the shoots are like asparagus, Tibor tells us – and bears like to eat it. The flowers are also edible, but since we can’t pick anything in the national parks, I try a Fireweed Lemonade at Banded Peak Base Camp instead. It’s fruity and sweet; how you’d expect something pink to taste (though fermented fireweed tea is not pink)!
The hike was just long enough for my tweens and included a good balance of fun facts and interesting stories. There are tons of great photo opportunities as well since the trails are mostly in the alpine. Since they were good listeners, the kids pass the test and are allowed back in the gate. As we ride the chairlift (enclosed gondolas also available) down to the lodge, we scan the slopes for bears and enjoy the view.
Dining at Lake Louise Summer Gondola
Banded Peak Base Camp is the perfect place to refuel after an afternoon of hiking. Enjoy a pulled pork, ham and Swiss cheese melt (Cubano sandwich); Maplewood Smoked Brisket; Basecamp Burger; locally brewed beer from Banded Peak Brewing, Calgary; slushee; or ice cream on the patio at the base of the gondola.
If you arrive early, you can enjoy fine dining at Whitehorn Bistro, at the top of the gondola. Located on the upper level of the Wildlife Interpretive Centre building, the views and menu are sublime (it’s a popular wedding/elopement venue).
Both restaurants have a kids menu and gluten-free options. There’s also a coffee shop and café in the Lodge of the Ten Peaks.
Know Before You Go
Reservations are recommended for group hikes as space is limited. Plan to arrive 45 minutes early so you have time to pick up your tickets, ride the gondola (15 minutes), and walk 400 metres to the Wildlife Interpretive Centre. See the Guided Hike Descriptions and Schedule here.
Wear hiking boots; and bring a jacket, hat, sunglasses, water, and snack (and bear spray if you have it).
The Lake Louise Summer Gondola is open:
|9:00AM – 5:00PM||July 3 – July 31|
|9:00AM – 5:30PM||August 1 – September 6|
|9:30AM – 4:30PM||September 7 – September 19|
Check the board at the top of the gondola for last lift down!
Lake Louise Summer Gondola is located at Lake Louise Ski Resort, two hours west of Calgary. Click here for Google Maps directions.
Where to Stay
From the Lake Louise Tent / RV Campgrounds (operated by Parks Canada) and HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre to Baker Creek Mountain Resort and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, there is a wide range of lodging options near the ski hill. See Lake Louise Ski Resort | Lodging & Hotels for details.
For More Information / Book Now
Read about our experience hiking (self-guided) to Kicking Horse Lookout and dining at Whitehorn Bistro in this story: Ride, Hike, and Dine at the Lake Louise Summer Gondola.