It has been said that I will do anything for tasty, sweet treats, including walking up a mountain for it; and that is exactly what happened when we hiked up to the Lake Agnes teahouse.
The teahouse was listed as one of the best things to do in Banff National Park in our Lonely Planet guidebook (I think it was around 3rd or 4th?), and as soon as I heard that there was cake waiting for me at the top of a mountain, I was up for it. The book made it sound pretty easy, but anything which involves uphill is never easy.
The trail starts out next to Lake Louise, and climbs up through the forest, with switchbacks and the occasional sneaky peak through the trees down to Lake Louise.
After about 30 minutes of walking, you come to Mirror Lake; a nice, peaceful little lake, that you’re so thankful for seeing because it gives you a good excuse to stop and catch your breath.
The trail continues for about another 15-20 minutes past Mirror Lake, but it’s hard work because the path turns quite rocky and you have to avoid horse poop. And then, when you think your legs are completely done for, you’re met by stairs. I’m fairly certain we dragged ourselves up those stairs on upper body strength (which I’m not exactly known for having), not leg strength.
But when you reach the top, you realise it was completely worth it.
Lake Agnes itself is beautiful, and it’s nice to perch yourself on one of the cool rocks, catch your breath, cool down, and take it all in. But don’t forget to turn around and look down through the trees, where you can see your starting point.
Following the calm of the lake, prepare for a bit of chaos in the teahouse. The problem is that there are too many visitors for the teahouse; there just simply isn’t enough room. It’s a case of jumping on the first table you see.
A snack is definitely needed before you head back down the trail, and the teahouse has a pretty good selection of cakes and other snacky things. Let me tell you that mountain brownies, cookies, and hot chocolate were exactly what our bodies needed. (Well, probably not. I’m sure a banana would have been healthier.) If you don’t fancy the business of the cafe, you can always take your own snack and flask and enjoy it by the side of the lake.
The prices were alright considering you’re on the side of a mountain and I imagine it’s a pain to get supplies up there. (Interesting fact; I asked the waitress how they got up there each day, and apparently they live up there all summer. Nice, huh?)
Don’t fill up on too much tea and coffee though because there aren’t any toilets, and the closest ones we found were right back at the bottom at Lake Louise.
When you come to head back down, you can either go back the way you came, or there’s another route which I highly recommend because you get this view.
This trail meets back up with the other trail at Mirror Lake, and it’s not any slower or faster, but that view.
If you fancy a bit more of an adventure, you can carry on to The Beehives. While we were driving to Lake Louise, we naively said”we could do the Beehives too if we feel up to it,” HA! Optimistic Daz and Rosie were very wrong; there was no way we were feeling up to it. That said, we have decided to somehow become marginally fitter and do the Beehives next summer if we can.
What lengths have you gone to for cake?