August 28, 2018
Fairview Mountain is well named as there are indeed fair views to be had from all directions. Fairview is a very accessible summit in Banff National Park, located directly above the icy blue waters of Lake Louise. From this vantage point, you can see all the mountains around Lake Louise, plus a fairly close view of Mount Temple.
I went with the Alpine Club of Calgary – Calgary section. As it was late August, and mid-week, most tourists had gone home, and the locals were thinking of heading back to school. As a result, we were able to get parking at the Lake Louise lot. There is now a shuttle bus service to Lake Louise, accessed from the Mount Temple Overflow parking lot. Make sure you check the website and follow the parking / shuttle directions before you go as it is a moving target.
As this is a hike, and not a scramble, I brought my regular pack kit, hiking boots and poles.
Take the Saddleback trail to the col between Saddle back and Fairview Mountains. At the col, turn right and head up to the summit of Fairview Mountain. Return the same way.
From the Lake Louise parking lot, go towards the lake. Head towards the boat house on the left side of the lake. Look for the trail signs that say Fairview Lookout and Saddleback Trail. Take this trail.
Continue on the wide and well-used trail, following the Saddleback Trail signs. You are in the forest for the first couple of KM. The trail then breaks out into more open slopes with an abundance of larch trees, scree piles and large boulders. Keep an ear and an eye out for the various marmots and pikas that live in these rocks. Please keep dogs on leashes so they don’t harass the local wildlife.
At the 4 km mark, the Saddleback trail takes you right up to the Saddleback – Fairview Mountain col. On the left is the trail to Saddleback, and to the right is the trail to Fairview Mountain. Straight ahead into the forest will connect you with the Paradise Valley trail.
Funny story at the col… As I was waiting for my group at the col, the Calgary Seniors Club showed up. We got to chatting as I knew a few people who skied with them in the winter. One member then whips out a card and asks me to join. “Oh no,” I said with feathers slightly ruffled, “I’m not even close to being a senior citizen!” “That’s okay,” he replied “we take people 55 years and up.” Okay – now my feathers were fully ruffled, as I was still in my 40s, thank you very much!!!
From here, take a good look at Mount Temple. This is not the view of the “tourist’ route, but instead the glacier capped north face.
Head right and make your way up this well trodden trail through scree and large lichen covered boulders.
The trail to the summit of Fairview Mountain is about 1.4 km, but it doesn’t feel too bad because of the amazing views. As you hike up, the view of Mount Aberdeen (and the two peaks in front of it – Sheol Mountain and Haddo Peak) rises up to your left. This view was so majestic that I felt emotionally overwhelmed. I had to stop hiking, and just take it all in. This is why I hike. To allow the strength of the mountains to pour into my soul. It builds me up, and makes it possible to go back to the town where I live.
At the summit, there are several places to stop and eat your lunch. We did a bit of summit lounging up here, waiting for the other members of our group to come up. This gave plenty of time to take photos, and chat with the various tourists we met up there. I’m always impressed when people go out of their way to come to Canada.
Here is a panoramic views from the summit of Fairview Mountain.
Fairview Mountain Return
Return the way you came. There is no circuit, at least not for hikers.
On the return trail, you get different views, like Whitehorn and Lipalian Mountains, which are both home to the Lake Louise Ski Resort and Summer Gondola.
You also get a top view of the Chateau Lake Louise.
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Totals – Tracked on Strava
Date: August 28, 2018
Group: Four (Alisen, & three ACC members)
Distance: 10.6 km
Elevation: 1.015 m (3,350′)
Time: 4 – 5 hours.
We had lots of waiting time as the group was split into two. If you really take your time, with lots of summit lounging and chatting at the col, then plan for a full 5.5 hours. Which, since it’s such a long drive, you may as well enjoy your time on the mountain!