Cross country skiing | Snowshoeing | Etiquette | Trail report | Winter safety

Note: Not all sign-posted summer destinations are safe for winter travel. If you plan to travel beyond the designated winter destinations described below, your group should be prepared with the appropriate knowledge, skills and equipment.

Avoid these avalanche zones at Lake Louise | Lake Louise Winter Trails Brochure (PDF)


Cross Country Skiing

Ski trails in the Lake Louise Area | Ski trails on the Bow Valley Parkway #1A

Trails in the Lake Louise Area

*1) Moraine Lake Road: 15.6 km return, 250 m elevation gain
Double trackset with skating lane
Climbing steadily, this trail includes both gently rolling and hilly stretches. Tracksetting ends at a viewpoint of Consolation Valley and the Ten Peaks. Warning: Beyond the viewpoint, the road crosses large avalanche paths. Travel beyond this point requires avalanche training and equipment.

2) Fairview: 4.6 km one way, 60 m elevation gain
Single trackset
A beautiful trail, the Fairview runs through sections of open clearings and snow-draped woods. It’s also possible to make a 7.5 km loop (160 m total elevation gain) using the Fairview trail, the Moraine Lake Road and the Tramline trail: the recommended direction is counter-clockwise.

3) Tramline: 4.8 km one way, 195 m elevation gain
Double trackset
This trail runs from valley bottom to Lake Louise at a steady 3% rise, following the old grade of the tramline that once connected the train station and the Chateau Lake Louise.

*4) Lake Louise Loop: 4.1 km loop, 15 m elevation gain 
Double trackset
This loops features a wide open ski across frozen Lake Louise, followed by a fun “up & down” trip back through the woods -- just 100 metres uphill from the lakeshore walking path. Use the Fairview – Lake Louise Connector trail to ski directly from the parking lot onto the lake. Warning: Beyond the back of the lake, the trail crosses large avalanche paths. Winter travel to the Plain of Six Glaciers requires avalanche training and equipment.

5) Upper Telemark: 1.4 km one way, 65 m elevation loss
Double trackset
This trail has several steep and technically demanding hills. If you find them too imposing, they can be avoided by taking the “Hillside” bypass. Start in front of the Chateau Lake Louise as if going to Lake Agnes, then turn right onto trail #5. Once up and behind the Chateau, ski steeply down to the Great Divide and Lower Telemark trails. 

6) Great Divide or "Old 1A": 20 km return, 60 m elevation loss
Double trackset with skating lane
Mostly flat, but trending gently downhill, this trail takes you to the “Great Divide” – the BC / Alberta border. From here, you can continue into Yoho another 3.5 km (grooming irregular) to the Lake O'Hara parking lot.

7) Peyto: 2.2 km one way, 45 m elevation loss
Double trackset
This trail has a tricky starting point, off the small access road to the Brewster Stables behind Deer Lodge, but it offers a more gentle downhill to the Great Divide and Lower Telemark trails than trail #5.

8) Lower Telemark: 4.0 km one way, 110 m elevation loss
Double trackset
Park at Great Divide trailhead, ski 700 metres, and turn right at the #8 trail sign. After 4.0 km of twists and turns, exit back onto the Great Divide trail, and turn left to return to your vehicle.

9) Bow River Loop: 6.6 km or shorter versions of the loop, no elevation gain. 
Single trackset
Mostly flat, following the river. To start, park near the Station Restaurant or just past the campground kiosk, or use the connecting trail from the Post Hotel or the Samson Mall.

10) Campground Loop: 2.2 km outer loop, 15 m elevation gain
Double trackset with skating lane
This trail loops around and through the campground on gentle terrain. For access, park just past the campground kiosk.

11) Townsite: 0.7 km one way, no elevation gain
Double trackset
This short trail provides access to the northwest end of Village Road, near all the village hotels.

*   *   *

20) Pipestone Loop: 13.3 km loop, 190 m elevation gain
Single trackset
Watch for the occasional tight corner and be cautious on the hills. The recommended direction for the outer loop is counterclockwise.

21) Hector: 3.0 km one way, 95 m elevation gain
Single trackset
This trail features good views at both a major fire protection clearing and tranquil Pipestone Pond.

22) Drummond: 2.7 km one way, 24 m elevation loss
Single trackset
If you need a breather, this is the only flat trail in the Pipestone trail system.

23) Merlin: 2.3 km one way, 55 m elevation gain
Single trackset
Watch for the old pioneer log cabins along this leg of the Pipestone.

Ski trails on the Bow Valley Parkway #1A 

12) Baker Creek to Protection Mountain Campground: 3.5 km one way, no elevation gain
Single trackset
This trail (labelled “#2" on-site) runs parallel to the parkway, and starts across the road from the Baker Creek Chalets.

13) Castle Junction: 8.7 km of trails, 20 m elevation gain
Single trackset
You can park for these trails (labelled #1, #2 & #3 on-site) either near the hostel, or at the Rockbound Lake or Castle Lookout trailheads.


Snowshoeing

Snowshoe trails in the Lake Louise area | Snowshoe trails on the Bow Valley Parkway #1A

Some of the snowshoeing trails listed here intersect with groomed cross-country ski trails. If you decide to follow groomed cross-country ski trails, please travel to one side in order help maintain them for other users.

Snowshoe trails in the Lake Louise area

*14) Lake Louise Lakeshore: 4 km return, no elevation gain
Starting in front of the Chateau Lake Louise, this trail features classic views and at lake’s end, a 100 m tall frozen waterfall. Warning: The trail beyond the end of the lake leads to dangerous avalanche terrain. Travel beyond this point requires avalanche training and equipment.

*15) Fairview Lookout: 2 km return, 100 m elevation gain 
This steep trail ends at a viewpoint overlooking historic Chateau Lake Louise. Start by facing the Lake at the World Heritage Site rock. Look left and follow the trail signs for Fairview Lookout. Warning: Return via the same path; the loop option requires avalanche training and equipment.

16) Louise Creek: 5.6 km return, 195 m elevation gain 
This is the best pedestrian option from the village to the lake. From Samson Mall, walk along Lake Louise Drive to the Bow River bridge. Cross and look for the trailhead on the downstream (south) side of the bridge.

*17) "Highline" Trail to Paradise Creek: 9 km return, 60 m elevation gain 
An excellent snowshoeing option. The trailhead is the same as Fairview Lookout, but at the Lookout turnoff, continue for another 40 metres on the main trail, then turn left when you see the horse trail sign. Warning: At km 1 the trail crosses the runout zone of an avalanche path rated as Simple Class 1 terrain. The path rarely runs but caution is required. At Paradise Creek, turn left for safe terrain on Moraine Lake Road. Turning right leads to Challenging Class 2 terrain in the Paradise Valley where avalanche training and equipment are required.

*18) Mirror Lake via Lake Agnes hiking trail: 5.4 km return, 295 m elevation gain  
From the Chateau Lake Louise, follow the main Lake Agnes trail as it rises through the forest. Sections of this portion of the trail cross avalanche terrain. Avalanche risk: Beyond Mirror Lake, the trail is rated as Challenging Class 2 terrain for avalanche exposure and travel requires appropriate training and equipment.

*19) Taylor Lake: 12.6 km return, 585 m elevation gain (see trail guide) 
This challenging trail ends in a scenic hanging valley below Mount Bell. Start at the parking lot 18 km east of Lake Louise or 8 km west of Castle Junction on the Trans-Canada Highway. Warning: Connecting trails to O'Brien Lake or Panorama Ridge take you into avalanche terrain. Travel on these trails requires avalanche training and equipment.

Snowshoe trails on the Bow Valley Parkway #1A

24) Peyto Lake viewpoint: 1.5 km return, 25 m elevation gain 
From the parking lot there are two loops. Start by following either the unplowed upper road or take the official trail from the north end of the parking lot. From the viewpoint, a second loop runs through gladed forest.


Winter safety

Safety is your responsibility. There are always hazards associated with outdoor recreational activities. Even short trips from town can have serious consequences. 

  • Ask for advice at a Parks Canada Visitor Centre for help with trip planning. 
  • For recent information on trail conditions, warnings and closures, visit pc.gc.ca/banfftrails
  • When trails are icy, hiking poles and ice cleats are recommended. 
  • Study descriptions and maps before starting out and always choose a trail suitable for the least experienced member in your group. 
  • Tell somebody where you’re going, when you will be back and who to call if you don’t return. 
  • Expect that trail conditions and winter hazards may change throughout the day. Consult weather forecasts and be prepared for changing weather and emergencies.
  • Winter hazards include avalanches, disorientation, thin ice, hypothermia and frostbite. 

Avalanche risk 

Avalanche season in the mountains extends from November to June, and even a short walk can take you into avalanche terrain. Trails with a known hazard have been identified with an avalanche symbol. When travelling beyond marked trails, or past an avalanche danger sign on some trails, assume you are in avalanche country – your group should be prepared with the appropriate knowledge, skills and equipment.

Check the current avalanche forecast. Did you leave your trip plan with someone? For more information on backcountry travel and how to stay safe in the mountains, visit Parksmountainsafety.ca.

Recommended packing list – travel away from avalanche terrain

  • Trail guide and map 
  • Full water bottle or thermos 
  • High energy food 
  • Bear spray 
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses 
  • First aid kit 
  • Repair kit 
  • Lightweight emergency blanket, candle and lighter or waterproof matches 
  • Headlamp or flashlight with spare batteries 
  • Toque or winter hat and gloves 
  • Hiking poles and ice cleats 
  • Hand and toe warmers 
  • Extra clothing that would keep you warm should you stop in case of an emergency 
  • Carry a cell phone or satellite communication device appropriate for the area you will be visiting. Be aware that cell phone coverage is not reliable in the Park.
  • Wear a helmet when fat biking 

For information on packing for travel in avalanche terrain visit Parksmountainsafety.ca.