The hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers is one of Banff National Park's classic hikes. There may be huge crowds at the start of the trail but the scenery is so good that if you can bear it, I think it's something you can be forgiven for hiking just once in your life.
The hike begins at Chateau Lake Louise, amidst the hundreds and thousands of people streaming off of the tour buses to snap the Lake and the mountains behind.
Follow the lakeshore trail to the far end of Lake Louise. There will likely be far less people at this point! We hit this trail fairly early in the day, and in contrast to the hike we did to Larch Valley the previous day, we saw practically no one on the trail all morning. From the parking lot, it's 5.5 kms to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Continue another 1.6 kms along the trail to the viewpoint for a closer view of the glaciers.
On the morning of our hike it was a bit foggy, and we couldn't see the tops of the mountains. But we sure could hear the avalanche! No one warned us and it scared the crap out of us. From the viewpoint we returned to the teahouse for a lunch break and learned that avalanches are a normal occurrence and that some days they hear them from the teahouse every hour or so! I'm not sure where exactly they are taking place, but the hike itself to the Plain of Six Glaciers is secure in the summer, so enjoy the distant rumble (if avalanches can possibly be enjoyedÂ…) but don't go beyond the viewpoint where the trail ends.
For those wishing for a close up view of Victoria Glacier, there is an unmarked trail not far from the teahouse. About 100 m past the footbridge look for a not-so-apparent trail just beyond an avalanche chute leading up. The trail goes up 2115 feet in just 2 kms! After numerous switchbacks the trail sort of peters out in a field of softball sized scree. We heard another avalanche at this point and paused to pray. Not very pleasant walking over the scree, but the glacier itself is less than a km away. Continue over the scree and take a close look at the deep crevasses and the true size of the Victoria Glacier. Don't be stupid and hike onto the glacier unless you have the appropriate gear and know what to do if you fall into a hidden crevasse!!! Glacier fields are dangerous and should not be taken lightly.
In winter please check local avalanche conditions and bulletins.
NTS Map: 082N08
Elevation gain: 1380 ft / 420 m (+2115 ft / 645 m to Victoria Glacier)
Distance: 14.2 kms round trip (an additional 4 kms round trip to Victoria Glacier)<
Follow Lake Louise shoreline to the far end and look for a trail marker.
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Posted By: ChrisMarry
- Mon Sep 16 00:07:14 EDT 2013
UpsideVery accessible, easy, superb views of the glaciers
DownsideLots of people
CommentWe did it in June and we saw lots of avalanches, very impressive. A close look to Victoria Glacier after you reached the Tea House is in my opinion worth the extra km or so.
Posted By: kitten422
- Fri Aug 03 13:49:17 EDT 2012
CommentWe woke up early to start the hike before the crowds of people arrive. Before the hike even starts one must walk 20-30 min around the lake to get to the starting point. The hike starts at the foot of the mountain near the glacier runoff water and soon becomes what I call the "garden". On both sides of the trail are flowers during the late summer and there are bumble bees and butterflies flying about. Soon you start the incline and the best parts are when you can see the snow and ice on the side of the trail. We walked on the horse trail so we could step in the mountain snow at one point. Continuing on, you will see signs that update you on your hiking progress. Eventually you will see the Tea House. We recommend the TEA!! You would be surprised how many people get the powered lemonade. The tea is from the Bamff Tea store and is lovley. Use the washrooms by the stream and continue on the short hike to the Glaciers. When you arrive at the rocky slope at teh top of the mountain you will know it. Continue on the path (Too many rocks to have a trail) and stop when you reach the two large rocks. There is really nothing pass this but a steep climb that worries the mothers of the world. Stop for a picnic and start back down. The way back goes amazingly quick. It hailed on the way back and being from Texas we were amazed.
Posted By: lizzie535660
- Sat Jul 23 21:31:42 EDT 2011
UpsideIncredible views- teahouse at the end good length
DownsideVery wet and slippery snow in sections
CommentOverall it was very fun. I saw lots of wildflowers. It is a very popular hike so it is very busy. The chocolate cake at the tea house is delicious. I highly recommend it.It is cold at the top so wear lots of layers.
Posted By: BobbieM
- Mon May 16 16:49:20 EDT 2011
CommentCan anyone give me a heads up if 4 year olds and a 2 year old can hike up to the Tea house?
Posted By: antibius
- Sun Feb 13 01:27:25 EST 2011
Commentdid the Teahouse in ,77, worked in the Lake Louise Dining Room, bussing , from Labour Day weekend for 3 weeks until they closed for reno's that winter, hitched-hiked to Ottawa at beginnig of Oct. in constant rain and snow, slept outdoors in an amazing sleeping bag bought in Banff (and still have), finally got back to the Teahouse 23 years later, the woman running the Teahouse on my second trip I had met back in 1977 when she was 13, she and her mother were running the Teahouse at that time!!!!
Posted By: MGSteve
- Sun Aug 29 18:48:15 EDT 2010
UpsideI visited. the House of Six Glaciers when I was 13 in 1965. I intend to revisit in Sept 2011
DownsideBeen too long since I have returned
Posted By: Trevbo
- Mon Feb 08 09:38:17 EST 2010
CommentNo, the comments about scones and tea weren't tongue in cheek, there is an actually teahouse that serves tea, coffee, sandwiches and lunch etc. (only open in the summer months... May 31st, it will most likely be open, but I'm not 100%)
Posted By: MAFAv8r
- Sat Feb 06 23:20:45 EST 2010
QuestionHi, we intend to do this walk 31st May. Mention is made of the Teahouse and I am a little unsure as people talk about tea and scones. Is this tongue in cheek or can you actually buy stuff thereANSWERS are in this forum: Tea House Plain of Six Glaciers
Posted By: higgy
- Sun Sep 06 16:20:07 EDT 2009
UpsideEasy hike even for those not experienced, but well worth the effort to get to the tea house to have scones and tea!
DownsideVery popular expect large number of hiker during peak season and can be hot as most of the trail is in the open.
Posted By: jhiker
- Wed Jul 29 20:10:58 EDT 2009
Upsidethe scenery was very beautiful. A great view from Abbot Pass Lookout back towards Lake Louise.We heard a number of avalanches,some were loud.
DownsideNo downside except for the sharing of parts of the trail with horses.
CommentA hiking trail well worth hiking.
Posted By: canomad
- Fri Jul 07 01:12:08 EDT 2006
UpsideAn about face view of the famous Lake Louise photograph.
DownsideCrowds. No longer being able to call Lake Louise home.
CommentI prefer making this trip a loop by first hiking to Mirror Lake,(near the other teahouse) beneath the Big Beehive, (another good hike) and then on to the Plain of Six Glaciers, returning along the lakeshore. Check out the gps coords above
Posted By: Kmarshall
- Fri Jan 27 18:03:14 EST 2006
UpsideThe dogs again will love you. Spectacular view of Chateau Lake Louise. We did this in July 2005 a bit of a blustery day. We started in the afternoon around 2pm and got down the mountain by 6pm.I would suggest doing this earlier. It was a wonderful hike. Bring you trekking poles you are going to need them. A bit rough in places as you can see by the pics. Boulders and you have to walk across a mountian and hold onto the chain that is provided as it is a few hundred feet drop. The dogs did just fine. We ran into a few people here and there but they were comming down as we were going up. This is a great view of those giant mountians Glaciers that are threatening to topple on you but somehow they hold on. My advise take a pic standing right in the middle of the boulders as you are comming down a fantastic view of the Lake and the hotel. I would then take a pic of the Overhanging glacier threatening to slide in front of the hotel Lake Louise and the Glacier you won't be disappointed. This was a wonderful hike. We did not get to the Tea house as this was not very exciting hike. But if you have to go for it.
DownsideNO real downside. Your in the middle of greatness and the view is stunning. Have your camera ready
CommentPack to hike wear appropriate attire. Have water on hand. Bring food Bundle up a whee bit as it does get chilly layering.
Posted By: ratgurl
- Thu May 26 13:55:43 EDT 2005
UpsideAbsolutely incredible view and the teahouse is just fun.
DownsideA lot of people on the trail when you start but this thins out as you go on. And it does feel like you've been going forever towards the end.
CommentThe view is amazing - it can make you feel so small. You just have to go to even fathom it. Wow.