Fairview Lookout is hidden on Fairview Mountain above Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta.
The sun is blazing over the horizon behind into cloudless sky on the early morning drive west from Calgary to Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The Bow Valley section of the TransCanada Highway at Lac des Arcs is filled with whirling winds which are tossing the car around. At the exit to the Lake Louise Ski Area, I take a few moments to capture images of surrounding mountains at the junction with Bow Valley Parkway before driving through Lake Louise Village to the parking area at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
The clear-blue, sunny skies and brilliant, reflective snow at Chateau Lake Louise camouflage brisk, cold air. There has been a significant amount of snowfall since the previous winter hike here to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. Surrounding mountains curtail wind chill and the hiking day will begin with a short 3.6 KM (2¼ mile) round trip hike, hosting elevation gain of 122 m (400 ft) to Fairview Lookout at 1,830 m (6,004 ft) on the flank of 2,744 m (9,002 ft) Fairview Mountain above Lake Louise.
This hike can be done on snowshoes but trails adjacent to the hotel are used frequently so hiking crampons will become the weapon of choice over snowshoes. The trail is consistently and sufficiently aggressive to warm up quickly. Imminent arrival at the Saddleback Pass Trail junction would lead to trail junctions for the summit of Fairview Mountain and access to Paradise Valley.
The Fairview Lookout trail branching right is a consistent uphill which levels before making a short descent to the snow-filled platform hosting an iced-over interpretive sign.
The view down to the Chateau Lake Louise is spectacular but surrounding trees block views across to the Beehives above the opposite side of Lake Louise and the magnificent Plain of Six Glaciers at the west end of the lake. Fairview Lookout provides an outstanding view of the hotel and surrounding mountains.
On this weekday, the viewing platform is mine alone to enjoy so there is plenty of time to absorb and enjoy the tranquil ambiance. The air is noticeably warming in this easily accessible, peaceful place with an amazing view of the hotel and amenities surrounded by majestic snow-covered mountains.
On the return hike via the same route, it is tempting to swing right at the trail junction for the hike to Saddleback Pass but this extension will add 6 KM (3¾ miles) and about 580 m (1,900 ft) of elevation to the day. Alternate plans are for some amazing sightseeing on the Lakeshore Trail which has been hiked many times, over many years, but never in the winter.
My favorite hiking guide for the Lake Louise area is 'Hiking Lake Louise' by Mike Potter