Hike or snowshoe from Lake Louise to Mirror Lake, a little lake at the foot of the Beehive.
Lake Louise is a winter wonderland with hiking, ice skating, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing! With the amount of snow it gets at 1600 m (5249 ft), however, there is avalanche danger on many popular trails, so it’s best to do some research before you head out. Fairview Lookout and the Lakeshore Trail are good options year round, but if you don’t mind a bit of elevation gain – and the conditions are right – Mirror Lake is a nice winter hike. The best thing about hiking here in winter is that there are hardly any people on the trail!
WARNING: There is avalanche danger on this trail, so check the avalanche report before you go and avoid this trail if the avalanche danger is High or Extreme.
Mirror Lake Route Description
The trail begins on the shore of Lake Louise near the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Get the famous lake shot with the Victoria Glacier in the background, then – still facing the lake – walk around the right/north side of the lake (NOT the boathouse side). When you reach a fork in the trail, leave the lakeshore and go up the hill at right; following the signs to Lake Agnes Teahouse.
Continue uphill through the trees. Mountaintops and Lake Louise will peek through the trees occasionally, but the best view is at the switchback at 1.8 km. This is also the most dangerous spot to hang out in winter, because it’s an infrequent avalanche path (evidenced by the small trees), so don’t stay here long. From here, it’s only 900 metres to Mirror Lake, named for it’s glasslike surface that offers perfect mountain reflections when it isn’t frozen.
On the final stretch, you will pass a turnoff to the horse trail, and shortly afterwards, arrive at Mirror Lake. The barrel-shaped mountain in front of you is The Beehive, and the pointy peak on the right is Mount St. Piran (a fun, easy scramble in summer). Enjoy a snack and some cocoa, then return the way you came.
In summer, it’s possible to hike to Lake Agnes Teahouse, The Beehive, Little Beehive, or Mount St. Piran from here, but in winter, there is significant avalanche danger beyond Mirror Lake. It is Class 2 avalanche terrain, so only those with Avalanche Skills Training (preferably AST2) and avalanche gear should consider hiking/snowshoeing past Mirror Lake in winter – and even then, only if the avalanche report is favorable.
Mirror Lake Trail at a Glance
- Distance: 2.7 km one way
- Elevation gain: 295 metres
- Avalanche danger: Most of the trail is in the trees, but an infrequent avalanche path crosses the trail 1.8 km from trailhead. Avoid this trail if the avalanche danger is High or Extreme. Check the avalanche report at avalanche.ca.
Know Before You Go – Winter Conditions (mid-October to mid-June)
There is avalanche danger on this trail. The trail crosses an infrequent avalanche path at a switchback 1.8 km from Lake Louise. Do not linger here during avalanche season and avoid this trail if the avalanche danger (check the avalanche report at avalanche.ca) is High or Extreme. A good backup trail is Fairview Lookout or the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail to Louise Falls.
There is significant avalanche danger beyond Mirror Lake (Class 2 Avalanche Terrain). Anyone choosing to proceed to Lake Agnes must have avalanche skills training and avalanche gear (beacon, probe, and shovel). Unfortunately, two snowshoers died in an avalanche near Lake Agnes, so save Lake Agnes for summer!
The snow on this popular trail tends to get packed down, so microspikes may be helpful after melting and freezing. Snowshoes are recommended after a big dump of snow, especially if you’re first on the trail that day.
There’s a wonderful skating rink on Lake Louise from mid-December until March, weather permitting. Bring your own skates or rent from Wilson’s (in the village of Lake Louise) or at the Chateau.
See our 9 Fun Things to Do in Lake Louise this Winter for more winter fun!
Know Before You Go – Year Round Info
- A Parks Canada Discovery Pass / daily admission fee is required to stop in Banff National Park.
- Parking fees are in effect from mid May until Thanksgiving Monday from 7 am to 7 pm at Lake Louise Lakeshore public parking lot. The fee is $21 / vehicle/ day. Pay at the pay stations.
- You are in bear country. Review our Bear Safety Tips and keep bear spray accessible. We have seen grizzly bears near Lake Louise in late January and early March!
- Dogs must be kept on a leash.
Lake Louise Parking Lot is 187 km / 2 hours west of Calgary, a few kilometres off the TransCanada Highway (Hwy 1). Click here for Google Maps directions.
What to Bring
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You should also carry The Ten Essentials including: water, extra food, extra clothes, a headlamp, a GPS / satellite communicator / compass, and map of the area, sunscreen (this one is safe for babies), bug spray (this deet-free one contains 20% icaridin and will repel ticks), and bear spray. Carry bear spray in a Frontiersman Bear Spray Holster or Scat Belt.
For winter conditions, we recommend traction devices such as Kahtoola Microspikes (Available from Amazon and MEC), or Hillsound Trail Crampons (Available at Amazon and Sport Chek) and trekking poles with snow baskets. Wear base layers, insulated winter boots, a down jacket and windproof/waterproof shell (or insulated ski jacket/parka), gloves or mittens, and a toque. See our fall/winter hiking gear guide for product recommendations.
For snowshoeing, see our Snowshoeing Gear List.
Where to Eat
The Lakeview Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise features a fantastic seasonal menu with stunning views. From blackened sockeye salmon and AAA Alberta beef, to heirloom tomato salad and crab and artichoke dip, there’s something for everyone! Gluten free, vegetarian, and nut free options are available as well as a kids’ menu. Note: During peak season, the restaurant is open to hotel guests only.
Afternoon Tea is available to hotel guests and day visitors from 12 pm -2:30 pm daily in Fairview Restaurant.
Where to Stay
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The luxurious Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has lovely lakeside rooms, several restaurants to choose from, and an onsite spa. Open year round.
Deer Lodge offers rustic elegance with wood burning fireplaces, TV-free rooms, and great views from the rooftop hot tub. (They’re located next doo to the Fairmont.) Their restaurant is fantastic too, featuring Canadiana fare like elk, bison, and venison. Open February 10, 2023 – October 1, 2023.
Lake Louise Inn is a more affordable option in the hamlet of Lake Louise with a pool, hot tub, gym, and onsite dining. Open year round.