Biking trails in the Banff area
Welcome to Banff National Park, Canada’s first and most famous national park. With more than 500 km of cycling trails, biking is an excellent way to explore this special place. Trails range from easy to difficult and the biking season typically extends from May to October. This guide will help you plan an enjoyable and safe biking experience, while keeping the park’s natural environment as pristine as possible. Banff National Park encourages the use of bikes for the appreciation and enjoyment of the park’s spectacular landscape of rugged mountains, broad valleys, glaciers, alpine meadows, and wildlife species.
3.9 km one way
Trailhead: Cave and Basin National Historic Site
This paved trail is perfect for families with kids and bike trailers as it winds along the Bow River and climbs gently to the Sundance Canyon picnic area where you can explore a lovely creekside hiking trail. Sundance is popular with hikers. To experience the canyon, bring a bike lock. Connector: Healy Creek (2).
2) Healy Creek
5.5 km one way
Trailhead: Starts at Sundance Canyon Junction
This double track winds and dips its way through the forest, eventually coming to Brewster Creek Junction before ending at the Sunshine Road, near the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH). Riders can return to Banff via the TCH, but are advised to be extremely cautious on this busy highway. Healy Creek is used by commercial horse traffic and is not recommended in wet conditions. Connector: Brewster Creek (6).
3) Spray River West and East
5.6 km one way from Spray River East trailhead (Golf Course Road) to Spray River Bridge
5.7 km one way from Spray River Bridge to Spray River West trailhead
Trailhead(s): Fairmont Banff Springs or the Bow Falls parking area
This winding, rolling gravel double track can be ridden as a loop in either direction or as an out-and-back from either trailhead. Choose your own adventure! The trail parallels the rushing Spray River. Great as a family outing and picnic near the bridge. Be sure to yield to horses. Connector: Spray River and Goat Creek (7).
4) Cascade Ponds - Bankhead
2.4 km one way
Trailhead(s): Cascade Ponds day-use area or Lake Minnewanka Road
From Cascade Ponds, ride past the picnic tables, over the creek and left to cross Minnewanka Road. Follow the old Canadian Pacific rail grade to the ghost town of Bankhead. Ride as out and back.
5) Tunnel Campground Loop
6.4 km loop
Starting Point: Tunnel Mountain Campground
Perfect for beginners and children, this is a very simple, entry-level trail that forms a large loop around Tunnel Mountain Campground. There are many places to stop and rest. Be sure to watch out for strolling campers, elk, deer and coyote.
6) Brewster Creek
8.5 km one way
Starting Points: Cave and Basin National Historic Site or Sunshine Road
Ride the Sundance trail (1) and/or the Healy Creek trail (2) until you get to the Brewster Creek Junction where the trail begins. This trail is a double track that climbs steadily up the Brewster Creek valley to the Sundance Lodge (service for guests only). The ride to the lodge is not suitable for beginners. Brewster Creek is used by commercial horse traffic and is not recommended in wet conditions.
7) Spray River and Goat Creek
18.7 km one way
Trailhead: Fairmont Banff Springs
This popular, rolling double track follows the Spray River for 10 km before reaching the easy-to-miss turn that veers off on the left just past the base of a short downhill section. Fork left, then head down over the bridge. From there it rises gradually along the lower slopes of Mount Rundle, ending at the Smith-Dorrien Road parking area above Canmore. Alternatively, arrange for a shuttle and ride the trail in reverse for a long, gentle cruise to Banff. Connectors: Canmore Nordic Center (take the Banff Trail) with the Rundle Riverside Trail (15) and the Golf Course Drive. Note: Due to the clay content of the Goat Creek trail, it is not recommended in wet conditions.
14.6 km one way
Trailhead: Upper Bankhead parking area
This former fire road is a gravel double track that opens with a sustained climb. It travels into the wilds of the Cascade Valley, through prime bear habitat. Cycling ends at the remote Stoney Creek primitive campground.
9) Lower Stoney Squaw
4.9 km one way
Trailhead: Mt. Norquay Ski Area parking area
This is a great trail for intermediate riders to work on their technical skills. Ride past the day lodge and down the ski area service road for 1.4 km. Watch closely on the right for a sign indicating the entrance. The steep sidehill nature of the trail features many rough and rocky sections, and drops continuously to the highway. Watch for bears and horses on this fast, technical descent. Be sure to close the fence gate.
20 km return
Trailhead: Redearth Creek parking area
This former fire road provides bike access to some very scenic backcountry hiking near the Great Divide. Bring a lock, as you must leave your bike at the end of the road. Popular hiking destinations include Shadow Lake Lodge, Shadow Lake, and Egypt Lake.
11) Surprise Corner to Hoodoos
4.3 km one way
Trailheads: Hoodoos or Surprise Corner parking area
Can be enjoyed in both directions but best ridden north to south. This trail offers an exhilarating experience with some steep climbing and descending. The route has spectacular views of Mount Rundle, a short section along a braid of the Bow River, and a short hike-a-bike section at a set of stairs.
12) Water Tower
3.8 km one way
Trailhead(s): Cascade Ponds or Johnson Lake day-use area
This trail begins at the northeast corner of Cascade Ponds, crosses a small creek, and climbs up an almost impossible-to-ride-up set of steps (prepare for significant hike-a-bike). The remainder of the trail to the water tower is a sweet singletrack that dips and turns its way along the edge of the escarpment above the Trans-Canada Highway. Views of the Bow Valley and its iconic mountains, Rundle and Cascade, are spectacular. From the water tower, it’s worth your while to continue along a short section of gravel road leading to Johnson Lake. This trail is easily ridden as an out and back from either end.
13) Tunnel Bench Loop
9.7 km loop
Starting Points: Hoodoos parking area or Tunnel Mountain Campground
Typically ridden clockwise, this popular loop is winding and varied entry-level singletrack with minimal elevation gain. Take in the spectacular views of iconic Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain as well as the Fairholme Range. Be aware that some sections have significant vertical exposure. If you are uncomfortable, be sure to walk your bike. Connector: The Toe (18) and Surprise Corner to Hoodoos (11).
14a) 1 km one way
14b) 1.5 km one way
14c) 3.8 km one way
Starting Point: Tunnel Mountain Drive near reservoir
These fun and twisty technical trails have wooden features, big curving berms, a wall ride, ladder bridges, skinnies and endless switchbacks. Although rated as difficult, there are portions of the trail that are friendly to moderate riders. For more information, visit the Banff Visitor Centre for a detailed map of this area. The trails were designed and built in partnership with the Bow Valley Mountain Bike Alliance.
15) Rundle Riverside
13.9 km one way
Trailhead: Banff Golf Course Road (kiosk at far end)
Intermediate and advanced riders may relish the challenge of this rocky, rough roller coaster trail linking Banff and Canmore. Eight kilometres of rooted singletrack give way to six kilometres of double track approaching the Canmore Nordic Center. Full suspension is recommended. Be prepared with a repair kit; the remoteness of this trail may be an issue if you get into trouble. Connector: Canmore Nordic Center (Banff Trail), Spray River and Goat Creek (7) and Golf Course Drive.
16) Lake Minnewanka
24.9 km one way
Trailhead: Lake Minnewanka day-use area, kiosk at far end of picnic area
Don’t let the gentle opening of this iconic ride fool you; the physical demands and the remoteness of this trail require excellent fitness, bike handling skills and preparation. The challenging and at times exposed sidehill trail climbs steeply out of Stewart Canyon and heads east on a rollicking single track towards the park boundary at Devil’s Gap. Destinations include the Aylmer Pass junction (16 km return) and the Warden’s Cabin (32 km return). The trail is popular with hikers and early, weekday starts for mountain bikers are highly recommended in May/June and September/October. NOTE: Trail is closed to cycling between July 10 and September 15
17) Upper Stoney Squaw Loop
4.5 km loop
Trailhead: Immediate right at Mt. Norquay Ski Hill parking lot
This narrow, technically difficult, rooted little trail climbs, at times steeply, through thick forest to the summit of Stoney Squaw Mountain. If you can “clean” this trail you’re a rock star! Enjoy a snack and a well-deserved rest at the viewpoint, with astonishing views of Cascade Mountain and the Bow Valley beyond. From there, continue north and descend a rocky, twisting technical trail back to the old ski runs above the Mt. Norquay day lodge. Connector: Lower Stoney Squaw (9) for a challenging, yet easily accessible loop out of the Town of Banff.
18) The Toe
7.9 km loop
Starting Points: Hoodoos parking area or Tunnel Mountain Campground
An exhilarating mix of challenging and exposed technical riding, long climbs and descents, and winding narrow single-track. It can be ridden in any direction, has some exceptional views and provides varied extensions to the main loop. This area is sensitive to erosion and wildlife movement-please ride with care.
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Golf Course Drive
10.9 km loop
Starting Point: Bow Falls Parking Lot Cross the bridge over the Spray River at the end of the parking lot, and you’re off. Perfect for a family outing, this road winds gently along the golf course before it loops back. This is a peaceful road with lovely views over the Bow River and surrounding peaks. Watch for one section that is quite rough. You will pass the kiosk for the Rundle Riverside (6) trail near the far end of the loop.
Vermilion Lakes Drive
4.3 km one way
Starting Point: Off Mt. Norquay Road, south of the Trans-Canada Highway The Vermilion Lakes are a series of three shallow lakes surrounded by marshland – a rich oasis for wildlife. The ride along this narrow road provides classic views of Banff’s signature peak, Mount Rundle. There are small docks where you can relax with a snack and enjoy the view.
Lake Minnewanka Road
13.1 km loop
Starting Points: Cascade Ponds, Lake Minnewanka Day-use Area, or the Banff Legacy Trail (21) The Lake Minnewanka Road is popular with cyclists and offers a pleasant roll through varied terrain, with panoramic views and many attractions including Cascade Ponds, Bankhead, Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake and Johnson Lake. This narrow road can be busy, so ride with caution and be on the lookout for bighorn sheep on the slopes above Two Jack Lake. Connector: Banff Legacy Trail (21).
Tunnel Mountain Drive
10.7 km loop
Starting Point: Central Park Parking Lot, west end of Buffalo Street Start by heading east on Buffalo Street, rising gently past “Surprise Corner” with its extraordinary view over Bow Falls and the world famous Fairmont Banff Springs. Continue climbing and bending around its lower slopes to join the Tunnel Mountain Road. Turn right (east) and pass campgrounds for incredible viewpoints before you drop back down to the Banff Legacy Trail (21). Go left into town, or right towards Lake Minnewanka. Elk and deer are common along this narrow roadway.
Bow Valley Parkway (to Lake Louise)
48.9 km one way
Starting Points: Trans-Canada Highway, 5.5 km west of the Mt. Norquay overpass and Banff Legacy Trail The Bow Valley Parkway ride is a classic, gently rising and falling as it meanders through the Bow Valley to Castle Junction, and beyond to Lake Louise. This ride is often done from Banff, return, for a solid 120 km round trip. Whatever your route, wildlife sightings are common, so keep a look out! Connector: Banff Legacy Trail (21), Vermilion Lakes Drive (16)
8.2 km one way
Starting Point: Sunshine Ski Area Road, 7 km west of Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway
The Sunshine Road begins its steady rise almost immediately, and offers a few steep ramps along the way to its termination at the Bourgeau parking lot, at the base of the Sunshine gondola. Vehicular traffic is moderate in the summer months, but be aware as the road is narrow throughout its length. Watch for bears along this twisty mountain road.
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