While not technically challenging, this steep, out-and-back trail will intermittently test your patience and resolve. Considered one of the finest vantage points of Banff’s Upper Lake Louise area, Fairview Mountain towers above the southern shores of Lake Louise.
The Saddleback/Fairview Mountain trail is accessed from the Lake Louise parking area and climbs quickly through the forest, away from the throngs of people crowding the lakeshore for a quick snapshot of the azure water and adjacent, historic Chateau Lake Louise. After ascending through the tall, evergreen trees, the trail wraps around a ridge, with clear views looking out to the Lake Louise town center. The trail continues through a forest of alpine larches to Saddleback, a tree-covered pass offering views of the surrounding peaks. Many hikers stop here and head back to Lake Louise (5 miles round-trip), but for the best views, continue up the trail to right for Fairview’s summit.
From the Saddleback at 7,642’ (2,329 m), it’s an additional one-mile (1.6-km) hike to Fairview’s summit at 9,003’ (2,744 m) ascending the southeast slope of Fairview Mountain. The difficulty increases slightly here, as the now steep path is poorly-defined and comprised of loose scree and slick sand. Keep trudging along and stop frequently to take in the views; the slope is totally exposed, giving way to commanding views of the surrounding summits, including Haddo Peak, Mt. Aberdeen, and the Aberdeen Glacier. Also take a moment to look back down at Saddleback, a verdant swatch that is now dwarfed by the imposing peaks. Atop the summit are panoramic views of Mt. Temple and the neighboring, glaciated crests of the Lake Louise/Moraine Lake area, and peering down the northern slope gives a new perspective of the turquoise Lake Louise, now a full vertical kilometer below.
Pros – Peek-a-boo view of Lake Louise from the summit, nice view of Mt. Temple
Cons – Limited scenery (especially) if stopping at Saddleback, lots of slippery scree from Saddleback to the summit