894Elevation Gain (m)
The quick scramble to the top of Mount St. Piran will only take a few hours, but it is a climb of relentless switchbacks with only a modest number of short, flat spots. Much like Fairview Mountain on the opposite shore of Lake Louise, the trail is absolutely jammed with tourists. The vast majority of them, however, are on their way to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, and they will never even see the summit of the mountain. You are now one of the very few people that veer right instead of left and carry on to the top.

Mirror Lake and Lake Louise from the open slope of Mount St. Piran

Mirror Lake is just up the way from this intersection and is an excellent setting to stop, put your feet up and look around. The more than adequate signage directs traffic to Lake Agnes and now the Beehives. Take the right branch of the path, wandering with the pack toward the teahouse. The reason there is such a considerable number of people becomes apparent as the climb progresses: it is absolutely beautiful up here. You have to accept the fact that all of these hundreds of people are here to experience such a wonderfully unique space, just as you are. However, when the signage directs everyone else left to the teahouse and only you go up the trail to the right, you become incredibly aware that your journey is much more significant. So, turn right and walk toward the Beehives. They are 700 m from the fork in the road. However, the marker for Mount St. Piran is located on the left, off the trail, long before you reach the Beehives.

You’ve now achieved 449 m, with 445 left to go. After you step onto this tributary trail, it slumbers through a forest of spruce for a short time to awaken to the open hillside of the southeast slope of Mount St. Piran. The trail is a combination of compact gravel and scree zigzagging toward the summit. The path steepens as it nears the top, so prepare to expend significant energy just when you think you are there. This open slope lends extraordinary views of Lake Louise and the Chateau.

Fairview Mountain is visible directly across Lake Louise to the southwest. Mount Niblock is almost due west at 252º, 1.4 km away, and Mount Whyte is directly south of that.

History of Fairview Mountain and Mount St. Piran

While spending the summer of 1893 camped on the shores of Lake Louise, Yale student Walter Wilcox and Yale undergraduate Samuel E.S. Allen summited Fairview Mountain. It was later named by Wilcox in 1894, as was Mount St. Piran by Allen. The reason for Fairview’s name is obvious, while that of Mount St. Piran is a little more complicated. Coming from Perranuthnoe, Cornwall, England, Willoughby John Astley was the first manager of the Chateau Lake Louise and constructed the first lodge. Prior to that, he had also built the first lodge at Lake Minnewanka. St. Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall.

A fire had levelled the Chateau in 1893, forcing Wilcox and Allen to spend the season in tents. Their return trip to Lake Louise the following year carried grand plans of exploration, photography and mountaineering. Fortunately for them the Chateau Lake Louise had been rebuilt in 1894 just prior to their arrival, allowing them to live in relative comfort. Twelve dollars a week bought them food and lodging and the use of fishing gear, horses and a boat. They were set for the summer.

Their group consisted of three other members as well, forming a club called the Yale Lake Louise Climbing Club. The young men of the club had an extraordinarily busy and productive summer, ending the climbing season by exploring and documenting over 50 square miles of territory around Lake Louise. Their efforts produced the first serious map of the region. All of these accomplishments were achieved without any experience except for a book on mountaineering which they had breezed through only briefly before their craving and enthusiasm to climb overcame them.


Possibly the most popular panorama in the entire Canadian Rockies is the view of Lake Louise in front of the Chateau. Walk on the paved lakeside trail on the right side toward the trail to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. The path to the teahouse and Mirror Lake are amply marked as it quickly jaunts upward to the right, leaving the lakeshore. The trail marker indicates 2.6 km to Mirror Lake at this junction. Less than five minutes later another trail sign shows the way again. After hiking up the trail for about 40 minutes you are joined by the unmistakable marking of a horse trail: the way becomes laden with horse bombs and the accompanying odour.

Hike Map
Gerry Shea

Gerry Shea

Gerry Shea lives in Kamloops with his wife and children and he is also the author of The Aspiring Hiker’s Guide 2: Mountain Treks in British Columbia.

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