Explore the most popular trail running trails near Improvement District No. 9 with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
1 day ago

One of the most strenuous, beautiful, satisfying hikes/scrambles I have done to date. Arrived at sunshine around 8 and we took the gondola up to the base of sunshine villiage. Good thing as we would’ve never made it back before sundown. The mileage recorded here is off as the hike was actually under 50k but still it made for a very long day as we also scrambled up pharaoh peak at the 23 k Mark. I would highly recommend doing this over 2-3 days and not a single day as we did.

hiking
2 days ago

This is just a partial recording as my AllTrails stopped intermittently. Beautiful hike.

I loved this trail! It was just difficult for me to really make it worth it fighting through the crowd. It provided great views and I loved all the different lakes we saw. The bugs were not so great at some times, but my bug bracelets worked well. Definitely had to side step horse poop, but you are in the woods so who cares?

I love the views once you're above the lake, and Lake Agnes to me is quintessential Rockies. I like this loop as a more challenging alternative than "just" visiting one of the tea houses.

My preference is to walk this counterclockwise, so that you can get the uphill sections done sooner, and also because I find the downhill sections at the back of the lake more approachable.

Bring cash for the tea house.

Take the time to explore around the beehive. The views are incredible.

Amazing views atop the Big Beehive, we took the trail counter clockwise and would recommend it because coming down from the beehive viewpoint towards Lake Agnes has steep cliff edges and going up that way was much safer than going down. Only hard part was going up towards the Big Beehive but it was well worth it. Definitely recommend this loop if you come to Lake Louise.

The trail is very busy, due to Lake Louise fame, so it gives some familial ambiance. It is relatively easy, except the Big Beehive ascent, and offers good views on the Lake Louise and the glaciers.

Tips: if you have time or walk fast, complete your circuit by the Beehive Circuit and the Plain of glaciers lookout which is worth the extra path (after Tea house) (shared the recording).
In total, it gave a 20km hike or so, so a good walk with many different perspectives :)

Beautiful hike with lots to see. The trek to the top of Big Beehive is hard, and I’d recommend hiking poles and boots. A lot of people end up going back down the way they came, but it’s all new scenery if you do this loop!

hiking
16 days ago

Hiked on July 28, 2018

Tips
• Washrooms and gravel parking at the trail head.
• Parking may be limited so you might have to park across the highway at the Bow Lake lookout.
• Do not leave the trail as the surrounding area is extremely sensitive and potentially dangerous.
• Mosquitos are very active compared to other trails in the area so bring repellant.
• Bring bear spray and make sure it is easily accessible for the entirety of the hike.

The trail hosts stunning views for the latter 2/3 of the hike, whereas the first part of the hike runs through the woods. There are some steep sections as well as a few breathtaking lookout points on the way to the lake. Depending on the season, you’ll likely encounter some wildflowers and a stream crossing. Helen Lake can be quite cool compared to the rest of the hike so dress/pack accordingly. Overall, Helen Lake Trail offers beautiful views and is moderately difficult—suitable for experienced beginners.

We did this clockwise, starting with lake Agnes and big beehive, and added on the plain of 6 glaciers tea house. Roughly 10 miles in 5 hrs, with a stop at the tea house. Absolutely stunning views all along the way. It was pretty well trafficked close to both tea houses but we had some nice stretches of solitude. Some good heavy climbs.

Hot tip: there is a shuttle from Banff train station to the lake for $10 round trip. Leaves every hour or so. If you want to avoid the parking hassle, it’s a good option. Show up 15 min before departure to get a ticket.

Also a word on crowds in the summer (since there is a lot of discussion about it). Have you been to Rome? Been to Paris? This isn’t nearly that bad. You might have to search for a parking spot or jostle near the head of the lake but it’s just not as crazy as the forums would lead you to believe.

on Helen Lake Trail

hiking
20 days ago

Spectacular hike. Gradual ascent so not difficult at all. Trail was busy on Saturday. Weather was perfect.

I try to do this hike every year it’s one of my favourite hikes. Only problem is it’s hard to do on weekend cause so much tourist so if you see you got to start very early on the weekend or yuh do it during the week. Its a fun hike. Not to east and not to hard

hiking
21 days ago

Quick easy walk to a tall narrow waterfall. Trail gets tight towards the end with a couple of switchbacks. Thankfully not too much traffic.

hiking
24 days ago

Loved this hike! I enjoyed the wooded portion at the beginning as much as the amazing vistas once we emerged above the tree line. Spectacular!

hiking
25 days ago

Completed this trail this weekend. Garmin measured it at just over 62km. trail head to south pass is well travelled but there is a split after the pass that doesn't follow this map. I took the trail to the right and it cuts off into the forest where the trail disappears. About 6-8 km have either been washed out or cut off by dead fall and over grown towards Molar Campground.Ran into 2 grizzlies just past the South pass in the woods. Only way to reach the campsite is across the river which was about knee high this weekend, but if you walk a bit down its lower. Towards Fish lakes the first 2-3 km are washed out or in marsh type areas so bring your gaiters

hiking
26 days ago

I went with my 14 year old son and 10 year old daughter. It was a very nice hike with lots of changing scenery. My daughter loved the streams we passed and the flowers and mushrooms. We started the hike at 3:45pm and finished it at 7:45. It was really nice. Wish we could have gone on a little bit it was too late. We saw the grizzly bear just off the path and made sure I made lots of noise on our way back. We also saw some other wildlife and was very nice weather for the day (Saturday). The incline at the start was a good incline for my daughter but she did good. She liked the hike more than moose mountain the week before. But my son liked both hikes a lot and wouldn’t say one was better over the other. Make sure you bring bear spray as I have heard this area is frequent with grizzly bears (heard this after the hike from a fellow experienced hiker).

My favourite hike in the Rockies! Amazing views to Lake Louise, Lake Agnes & Bow Valley. Must do! Plan one whole day in order to enjoy the landscape and don‘t forget to bring enough water and food with you (although there are 2 Teahouses - crowded). Bug Spray might be good as well.

backpacking
26 days ago

First things first - did it solo in 3 days, clockwise, with a total distance closer to 54km. Stayed at Fish Lakes night one, Molar Creek night 2.

Day 1 and 3 were utterly beautiful - I’d have to say that the hike to Fish Lakes is one of my favourite single day outings in the parks. The setting of the campsite at the lake itself is gorgeous. Day 2 is dull, and has some pretty tedious portions. The Pipestone river valley, while pretty, has some sections (~4km) that are so overgrown with brush that you just have to bobsled down the deep tracks in the trail. Once to turn west into the Molar Creek valley, prepare to lose the trail in the creek bed. There’s a lot of water and streams crisscrossing the valley floor, and the entire area is swampy and wet until you reach the Molar Creek campsite. The campsite itself is tucked away on the west side of the creek, requiring you to cross. Line up the pink flagging tape and you’ll be able to spot the campsite sign amongst the trees. Day 3 has some areas where the trail is submerged, but it’s pretty easily navigable. Once you start your climb, the trip over the pass is gorgeous all the way back to your car.

All in all, pretty solid loop. Lots of solitude along the Pipestone/Molar Creek area, and the trail loses a star for some really boggy and swampy areas that are hard to navigate. Otherwise a beautiful area in the parks with some incredible alpine lakes, meadows, and valleys.

hiking
26 days ago

The trail head was very easy to find, there was signage and parking (overflow parking across the HWY). The trail starts off with a good incline, definitely enough to warm you up, but nothing too crazy. You then head out to a nice meadow, one of the most scenic trails I have been on. Took around an hour to reach Helen Lake. Take the time to do the Dolomite Trail, well worth the view!

hiking
27 days ago

Very nice hike that gets the heart rate going with a solid (not not unreasonable) incline for the first section before opening up in a beautiful valley leading to the lake. Of note are a few very small stream crossings that have good rock placements to help you out and lots of roots that require some attention at the start/end. Trail was quite busy when we visited (Saturday, 11am start) and the parking area was already full but we parked at the viewing spot for Bow Lake right near the entrance to the trailhead. Highly recommend tacking on at least part of the Dolomite Trail that takes you up to a fantastic viewing area above Lake Katherine!

hiking
28 days ago

One of the most beautiful scenic hikes! Alpine meadows, wild flowers, waterfalls, burnt forests. Good incline with a fair number of short but steep ascents so definitely not an “easy” hike for those of sedentary or average fitness level - if Johnston Canyon or Grassi Lakes Trail is your baseline for easy, Helen Lake would be moderate to tough. Several groups of hikers we passed to and from the lake warned us of grizzly sightings within 50 feet of the trail in the open meadow portion of the trail so we had to make a lot of noise for the last part of the trail. Bear spray is a must! Also it snowed lightly at the lake so bring warm wind proof layers.

hiking
1 month ago

Low traffic, great views, waterfall is impressive. Pit toilet in the parking lot. Good view of castle mountain. Would do again.

Did this hike clockwise (Plain of Six Glaciers, Highline Trail to Lake Agnes, Mirror Lake and return on Lake Agnes trail) to enjoy forested shade in the afternoon. Departed Lake Louise at 8 AM and returned at 2:45 PM with stops at the Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse, side trip out to the lookout, lunch at Lake Agnes and a quick stop at Mirror Lake. Good views and photo opportunities, forward and backwards. Wildflowers and two ice falls reverberating in the canyon, too. The trails got a lot more crowded the later the time. Definitely not best for tennis shoes or flip flops, although we saw hikers in them. Sufficient water required for length of hike, significant altitude gain, and weather.

hiking
1 month ago

Super easy hike to the falls and wow! What a hidden gem! This was a short trail I almost didn't do because it was too easy and too short. I am very glad I did go, it was well worth seeing.

Fabulous hike! Good incline for the first couple of kilometres but nothing too strenuous.

Beautiful hike. One of my top five, I loved every second. Gorgeous views all the way up. Meadows full of wildflowers and beautiful waterfalls. I was nervous about bears but there was enough people that it eased my mind- bear spray is a must.

Great hike in Banff National Park. Start at Lake Louise behind the Fairmont and follow the well marked trails to the first tea house, which is a couple of miles in, and then to the second tea house, which is 5 or 6 miles in. The people who work at the first one hike in and out every day, and the people who work at the 2nd tea house stay there for 5 days straight. They have refreshments, tea, soups and cakes, etc. (Bring cash) Love this hike!

hiking
1 month ago

Great Hike albeit fairly steep in some parts. Lots of wildlife on a trail and especially in the tundra where friendly hoary marmots come to greet you and lick your shoes to say hello ;) . Great panorama of the Bow valley and lake and crowfoot glacier along the way. There is also tons of wild flowers in the various meadows you pass during the hike during the June/July months.

My daughter and I did this hike on July 11, 2018. It took us about six hours but we did stop for tea at Lake Agnes tea house. The trail is well marked. We left the parking lot at 7:30. Arriving any later would mean not parking in the Lake Louise parking lot. You'd need to park in the overflow lot and take the shuttle. My daughter is twenty and super fit. I'm in fair shape but I do have an injured knee. She paced the hike according to my ability. We had a great time. You need cash for the tea house. We bought two teas and two biscuits at the Lake Agnes tea house and it cost $21 plus tip (ouch!). The service was very slow. We skipped service at the second tea house and ate our sandwiches at the many benches. The weather was gorgeous. You need LOTS of bug spray because there are lots of mosquitoes. I should have used more sunscreen. Bring plenty of water. One thing that did surprise us was there was more snow on the way to the Plain of Six Glaciers than we expected. It was wet on the trail and muddy in some parts. You need good shoes. It gets chilly when you are sitting and resting. There are so many tourists (even on a Wednesday), you have no worries about bears. It is totally worth going to either tea house. You do need to be fit but pacing is everything on a hike.

Amazing hike! The snow has melted on the main trail but if you go on the upper lookout peak past the lake then beware that there still is some snow if you want the full experience. It is shallow and easy to traverse.

hiking
1 month ago

This is the most scenic hike I have ever been on out of the 30 or so ive done in the last decade. It is my second time hiking into helen lake and I could do it 100 more times and it would still be just as amazing. The hike itself is not too challenging. We hiked crypt lake 2 days before so we were still a bit sore from that. The beggining of the hike is the most challenging, but I believe this /to be manageable for most able bodied people. The trail continues to the right of helen lake to the southwest ridge of cirque peak. You need to do this portion of the hike! The views become tremendously more brilliant and you will have a view of a dolomite pass, watermelon peak and you can see the trail you walked in on and we managed to get a cell signal up top! All in all this hike is one of the best ive ever done and it is truly a treasure of the canadian rockies!!

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