As mentioned in this post, Bryson and I hiked the Plain of Six Glaciers trail in Banff a year ago, completely by accident. We had planned to spend the morning just walking around Lake Louise and maybe grabbing lunch. We got to the lake and started walking, eventually walking to the very end of the lake- there were very few people at the end of the lake and we figured we'd get some unique views not accessible in the summer. As we got to the end of the lake we found a hiking/cross country ski trail and started following it, thinking it wouldn't lead us too far.
Eventually, we found ourselves immersed in a very snowy forest with no one else in sight. It was so quiet we could actually here snow falling around us and falling off trees in the surrounding mountains. We decided to keep walking once we saw trail markers describing a tea house, obviously it would be closed/covered in snow but we thought it would look really cool if we could find it.
We were really lucky that the trail we followed had previously been packed down by skiers. We checked out what hike we had done once we got back to the hotel and saw photos of the place in the summer - it's a completely differently place in the winter! The snow trail was a lot higher than the actual summer trail as the valley filled with snow. Definitely a place that needs to be explored in both seasons!
The highlight by far was looking up to find mountain goats! I was obsessed with the baby ones learning to climb- so cute! They were actually quite far up from us (I used a mega zoom lens).
It's a bit hard to show the depth of the mountains and size of our surroundings, but in the photo above you can see another couple we ran into hiking the trail as well as the glacier in the background. We hiked a bit further than they did before turning back. At the time we didn't know how far the trail went and since we didn't plan on hiking we didn't bring any supplies with us and really didn't want to get stuck out there without a flashlight once the sun started to set.
Along with the insane views (that's Chateau Lake Louise in the distance), complete silence, and finding ourselves amongst glaciers we also got to see some back-country skiers make their way down one of the mountains. We didn't even notice them until we heard their 'yoo-hoos!' as they made their down, they were basically gliding specs from the trail until they made their way down and got a bit closer. Very cool. Highly recommend this place if you're in the area! Let us know if you've ever hiked the Plain of Six Glaciers trail or visited the tea house.