One of the best views in Banff National Park, reached by a strenuous hike from the lakeshore.


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Fairview is the mountain that looms over the south shore of Lake Louise.

Viewed from the lakeshore, its cliff-banded face looks unscalable.

But there is in fact an easy route on the mountain’s south slopes which begins from the Chateau area.

It’s easy compared to other Canadian Rockies summits, that is.

A trail leads to the top, but it’s very steep and can experience extreme weather.

In good weather, the view is one of the best anywhere in Banff National Park.

You can see up and down the Bow River Valley, peer straight down at the turquoise water of Lake Louise, and gaze at the cirque of peaks and glaciers beyond. The hike begins as the trail to Saddleback, near the Lake Louise boathouse.

This trail quickly departs the bustle of the lakeshore area and rises steadily through a dense conifer forest.

Grizzly bear sightings are not uncommon here, so use caution.

Views are limited for most of the time, but the trail crosses some slide paths with shorter trees, where you’ll see the valley getting wider and wider as you gain elevation. Eventually, you’ll reach Saddleback, which is the pass between Fairview and Saddle Mountains.

This area is forested by larch trees, which are quite colorful in the fall.

From there, the trail breaks treeline and heads steeply up south-facing talus slopes.

These melt out rather quickly, but can still have snow and ice into May, and winter weather can return by mid-September.

Follow the worn path and rock cairns to the top, where you’ll find Fairview’s fantastic panorama. Sources: