The iconic Lake Louise photo is one of the many reasons so many people come to visit the Canadian Rockies. Considered one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the world, Lake Louise is everything you could ever imagine. We want to share the Lake Louise trail with you for a few reasons…

Jo in front of Lake Louise.

Lake Louise is the gateway into some of the best hiking in Alberta. There are tons of amazing hikes that begin from or near Lake Louise. We’re only going to brush the surface by talking about the trail around the lake, but we’ll share tons of other opportunities for cool hikes in the area with you too.

Before we get started, we want to mention that this is the first time we’ve ever had a grizzly encounter. Yes, a GRIZZLY BEAR! We knew at some point hiking in the Canadian Rockies that we’d likely run into one at some point but we never expected it to be at Lake Louise.

Two Grizzly's in Alberta.

Practical information about the Lake Louise Trail

Distance: 5.6 km return / 3.47 miles return
Elevation: 107 m / 351 ft. elevation gain
Type: Out and back
Length: 1-2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Jo exploring Lake Louise Trail.

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Why you should visit the iconic Lake Louise

Lake Louise has always been known for its perfect reflection and the incredible blue colour. Rumour has it if you look right in the lake on a clear day you can see your beautiful smile reflect right back at you. It’s so stunning that it’s even considered one of the most famous spots to visit in all of Canada. I (Dom) have seen this place absolutely boom with tourism in the last 4-5 years.

Growing up in Alberta, only a few hours from Lake Louise, I’d visit it at least once a year. Lake Louise in winter is also fantastic by the way and you better avoid the crowds. But regardless of how many people visit every day you should absolutely still pass by and do the short 5.5 km trail around the lake.

Alpine Lake in Alberta.

It’s a flat trail that brings you around the east side of the lake. It will literally leave you speechless. Jo and I have been there a few times together now and we’re usually just stopping by so we haven’t yet done some of the longer hikes from Lake Louise but this nice walking trail around the lake is perfect. Especially after driving for a few hours like us. You get views of the mountains surrounding the lake and of course that perfect reflection that Lake Louise is oh so famous for.

If you really want to see a grizzly bear in Banff or while you’re out exploring then this might be the place. Almost every day during the summer there is a bear sighting in the area. We’ll get more into that though in another post.

Here’s a map of the beginning of the trail

Beautiful Lake Louise Trail

The trail is a relatively flat hiking trail. It is paved and super easy to walk on. Every few steps you will find the next “best spot” for a picture. It’s just that beautiful and the mountains that surround Lake Louise are incredible.

It’s one of those spots where, no matter how many people are there, it’s worth visiting. We plan to go back and do more moderate and hard hikes that start from Lake Louise and share them with you in the future. Doing one of those hikes is also an option if you’re looking for something more challenging than just the Lake Louise Trail.

Jo admiring the views of Lake Louise, Alberta.
Amazing views from Lake Louise hotel.

There are tons of options to make Lake Louise a full day trip. We’d definitely recommend giving yourself at least two hours to do the trail and explore the area and take pictures. Who knows, you may end up even spotting a bear in the distance and want some cool photos! 😉

So enjoy the trail, maybe a little picnic, and the fresh air of the mountains in one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you feel up for it, you can even rent a canoe and go out on the lake!

Red White Adventures at Lake Louise.

When is the best time to visit Lake Louise

The short answer is all year round! One of the beauties of visiting Lake Louise is there truly is no best time to visit. Every season brings something different and magical.

We do recommend different times of day depending on what season you go in but at the end of the day you can visit Lake Louise any time of year and it will be amazing.

Most beautiful water in the world.
Clearest water in the world.

Spring is usually one of the coldest times of the year in Alberta and Lake Louise. So if you go during spring, you want to keep the weather in mind on the given day. You can see the Lake Louise weather here. You should still be able to complete the trail if there’s not too much snow.

Summer is one of the best times to go but of course, everyone else is going in the summer as well. If you want to get a parking spot you may have to try and get there for 4 or 5 am (crazy, we know!) Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until spots open up which sometimes takes a while. We’d definitely recommend going in the middle of the week on a Tuesday or Wednesday when more people are at work to have a better chance of getting a spot.

Fall for me is hands down the best time of year to visit Lake Louise, especially late September when it’s still warm enough and the leaves turn yellow. It’s gorgeous. There are fewer tourists, the local people are back to work, and students are back at school. If you add all those together it makes for a less crowded Lake Louise. Then you add in the transition of summer to fall and how stunning all the trees look and it makes it such a fun time to visit the lake.

Winter is the longest season of the year, and for us Canadians it feels like winter takes up half the year. Lake Louise is absolutely beautiful in winter. If you go on a cloudy day, the lake will have this moodiness to it which is super cool! But if you get lucky and end up visiting it on a nice clear day you see the reflection so clearly.

Winters can be cold here in Alberta but that doesn’t mean we don’t get sun. You’ll get some breathtaking pictures of the frozen lake in the winter with the snow-covered mountains. I once went in early January and it was one of the coldest experiences of my life. On the bright side though the lake is frozen and you can go skate on it and even play hockey if you want!

Dom smiling because he's in the mountains.

Camping near Lake Louise

There are tons of places to camp near Banff or Lake Louise. We’d recommend camping somewhere in the middle of the two. That way you’re close to everything and also in a really nice location.

It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world to camp. You’re out in the mountains with the Rockies surrounding you.

The famous viewpoint of Lake Louise.

Lake Louise Campground

Lake Louise Campground is perfect when you’re visiting Lake Louise because it’s only a few minutes to the lake and the trail by car. There are 206 sites but it’s one of the most popular places to camp in Banff so the sites fill up quickly. Here’s all the information you may need if you wish to stay at this campground.

There are picnic tables and fire pits so you’ll be able to get real cozy. While exploring Alberta and the Rockies you want to be in the center of it all and there’s no better way of doing that than staying and exploring around Lake Louise Campground.

Two Jack Main Campground

This campground is closer to Banff than Lake Louise but we can’t pass up camping next to a beautiful lake. Two Jack Campground is right next to its gorgeous lake which is known for canoeing and kayaking. There are also some nice trails right around the lake.

So even though Two Jack isn’t right in Lake Louise it’s worth the drive towards Banff to camp there after a day trip to Lake Louise. Here’s some information on the campsite and phone numbers to make reservations.

Canoe's on Lake Louise.

How to get to the Lake Louise Trail parking lot

From Calgary

  • It’s roughly a 2-hour drive to the trailhead from the center of Calgary.
  • The directions can be found here.
  • Remember, if you go on the weekend you may not get a spot or you will have to wait for one if the parking lot gets full.

From Banff

  • It’s just under an hour drive from Banff to the Lake Louise parking lot.
  • The directions can be found here.

From Edmonton

  • It’s around a 5-hour drive from Edmonton to the trailhead.
  • The directions can be found here.
  • It’s a bit of a long drive but totally worth it if you plan to camp and stay a night or two. Since there’s so much to do in and around Lake Louise it’s absolutely worth spending some time in the area!
Crystal clear water.
Dom and Jo from Red White Adventures in front of a lake.

Before you go

When driving to Lake Louise you’ll be entering a National Park and you will have to stop and purchase a park pass if you don’t have one already. You can also buy the pass online here and if you plan to visit the park multiple times it might be cheaper for you to buy a yearly pass. You don’t want to finish a hike and come back to a ticket on your windshield because you forgot to buy the pass!

Once you got your pass in order, we recommend checking if the trail is open. Fortunately, the Lake Louise Trail is a fairly touristy area and even when bears come in the area the park rangers usually divert them to a different area. So the likeliness of the trail being closed is very slim but it’s still a good idea to check and have a plan B in place.

Your biggest concern should probably be the weather. Check the Lake Louise weather forecast if you’re going in the winter months when it may be a little colder and the highway conditions may not be great. Here are the road conditions for the highway going there.

Besides that, you can get gas, food, and cell service in and around the area so you don’t have to worry about any of that.

Canoe in Banff.

What to bring to Lake Louise

This is quite an easy trail and you will park pretty close to the trail so you don’t have to bring too much with you. We hate underpacking though and forgetting something (we used to do this all the time). We say it’s always better to over-prepare and not use some of the stuff – especially since you can keep it in the car…

So bring:

  • Some snacks are always nice to have.
  • Sunscreen if it’s sunny out! Or even if it’s just warm and cloudy, bring some.
  • Bear spray! You’re in bear country! Better safe than sorry. 
  • Warm clothes if it’s cold! Remember that the weather can change quickly. At least pack some warmer clothes and leave it in the car.
  • Also this is a great list of hiking gear that you may need on a hike!

And please, please, please, don’t leave any trash on the trail! There are garbage cans all around the front of the lake near the hotel so you can throw your stuff out there!

Smiling in front of the famous lake in Alberta.

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Jo smiling because she's out hiking in Alberta.

Other useful info

Stunning Lake in Alberta.

Lake Louise is one of our favourite places to visit in Canada and almost every year when we’re home for the summer we end up visiting the lake and enjoy the mirror-esque water. Let us know if you end up doing one of the other hikes that start from the lake! We’d love some inspiration for our next visit to Lake Louise!

Dom & Jo
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red white adventures logo with swan and moose

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