You may have heard of the Little Beehive and Big Beehive hikes before, hiking them gives you stunning views of the famous Lake Louise from above, where you can really appreciate the blue waters and the mountains surrounding the Lake.
These hikes can be quite popular and there is some important information you should know before hiking them!
Where are the Beehive Hikes located?
The Beehive hikes are located at Lake Louise! Which is awesome if you have never been before, as you get to check off visiting Lake Louise and doing a hike all in one.
The downside is that because of its popularity, Lake Louise can be quite busy (especially depending on the time of year), so getting to Lake Louise can be challenging and these hikes tend to have more people on them than other hikes in the area (which depending on your preference can be a good or bad thing).
Getting to Lake Louise
Lake Louise (and the Beehive Hikes) is about a 40 minute drive from Banff and a 2 hour drive from Calgary.
There is parking available at Lake Louise (costs $12.25 per vehicle per day), however it fills up quickly and depending on the time of year you are visiting, you may need to shuttle to the lake instead.
If you arrive early enough, you may be lucky to find parking in the lot.
See my post about Lake Louise for all the details about parking vs. taking the shuttle.
Where to stay around the Beehives?
The closest hotel to the Beehives is the Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise, which is an experience in itself. If you are not looking to spend that much money on accommodations, you can also check out other hotels around the Lake Louise area.
Lake Louise | Book Here
Other Hotel Options | Booking.com
Best time of year to hike the Beehives?
This depends on what you are looking for!
The busiest and warmest time is July-August. There are definitely more people along the trails during these months, but you also get the warmest weather and the longest days (which means you can start the hike later in the day).
The spring (May-June) is cooler and quieter, however the lake likely has not thawed yet so you will not see the blue waters. To me, one of the wow factors about these two hikes is getting to see the colour of the lake from above, so personally I would pick a different hike altogether if I was visiting in the spring.
The Fall is my personal favourite. It is usually still warm(ish) if you visit September – early October, and it is quieter than the summer months. The lake is still blue, and depending on when you go in the Fall you may get some nice tree colours as well.
If you hike anytime between mid-October to mid-May you are taking your chances. It could easily be VERY snowy and proper gear is definitely recommended (Microspikes).
What time should you start the hike?
Personally, I would recommend starting the Beehive hikes in the morning for a few reasons:
- You are more likely to get a parking spot, which is more convenient than having to take the shuttle.
- You can take a mid morning or lunch break at the Lake Agnes Tea House breaking up the hike and providing a fun experience.
- You are not feeling rushed to get down before the sun sets, and you can enjoy the rest of the day at
What is the difference between the two hikes?
The two Beehive hikes both start the same!
You will begin the hike along the Lake Shore Trail on the East side of Lake Louise. Hiking up switchbacks that lead away from Lake Louise and towards Mirror Lake.
Once you get to Mirror Lake, many people will take a break here and dip their feet in the cold water to cool off on a hot summer day.
This is where the Big and Little Beehive differ. When you are finished at Mirror Lake your hike will change depending on which Beehive you are planning to visit (or perhaps you are planning to do both)!
Length | 10.9km
Type | Out and Back
Time | About 4hr 40min
Elevation Gain | 776m
Difficulty Level | Moderate-hard
From Mirror Lake you will continue the hike to Lake Agnes and the Lake Agnes Tea House.
Once you make it to Lake Agnes and the Tea House, you can take a break here (depending on how much time you have given yourself).
The Tea House has snacks, sandwiches, soup, and of course, tea that you can enjoy from early June – Canadian Thanksgiving (the Tea House is closed for the remainder of the year).
Tea House Details
Menu | Lake Agnes Tea House
Hours | Early June – Canadian Thanksgiving: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Canadian Thanksgiving – Early June: Closed
Payment | Cash is preferred, card is accepted for a $1 fee
Washrooms | There are washrooms available
Once you are finished at Lake Agnes, you will begin the second half of the hike. Many people turn around at Lake Agnes, so you will find that the remainder of the hike is quieter.
If you decide to keep going, you will walk alongside Lake Agnes on the Big Beehive Trail towards the Big Beehive. The trail begins to get steeper (elevation grade sometimes reaching 60%), and depending on the time of year this part can be icy as well.
Once you make it to the top, the trail ends and you have a few different options of ways to go. To get to the Big Beehive you will stay to your left (right is towards Devil’s Thumb and straight is a second way back down) and walk for about 200m before getting to the end of the trail – and wow the views are absolutely worth it!
If you feel like continuing – you have a few options! You can hike to Devil’s Thumb or to the Little Beehive.
Length | 9km
Type | Out and back
Time | About 3hr 30min
Elevation Gain | 535m
Difficulty Level | Moderate
The Little Beehive starts off the same way as the Big Beehive. You will make your way to Mirror Lake by following the switchbacks from Lake Louise.
Once you get to Mirror Lake, take a little break and enjoy the views. As you continue, there will be a fork in the road for Little Beehive or Lake Agnes, take the Little Beehive path.
From here, you will hike about 1.2km to the Little Beehive view. It doesn’t sound like much, but the trail is uphill the whole way so you will definitely break a sweat!
If you are wanting to visit the Tea House at Lake Agnes, you can stay to your left at the fork in the road instead of following the Little Beehive sign. Once you get to the Tea House and are ready to continue hiking, you can take the Little Beehive Trail from the Tea House (walking past the washrooms). It adds around 500m to the hike, but is worth it if you want to visit the Tea House.
Which Hike should I do?
Personally, I would probably pick the Big Beehive, only because it allows you to pass Lake Agnes and the Tea House which to me is a fun experience and breaks up the hike. However, the Little Beehive is shorter and quicker and still provides you with stunning views.
So really, you cannot go wrong with doing either hike!
P.S. dogs are allowed on both hikes, but must be on a leash.
Other Hikes in the Area
The Devil’s Thumb hike is definitely considered a more challenging route to hike.
Length | 12.9km
Type | Out and back
Time | About 5hr 30min
Elevation Gain | 883m
Difficulty Level | Hard
Length | 2.4km
Type | Out and back
Time | About 1hr
Elevation Gain | 167m
Difficulty Level | Easy – Moderate
What else is there to do around the Beehives?
Since the Beehives are at Lake Louise, you also have all the other activities around the Lake Louise area, including renting a canoe, checking out Moraine Lake, and exploring Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise.
Check out my post here about Lake Louise for more details on things to do around the Beehives.