Cross country skiing near the village of Lake Louise © Parks Canada
Whether you are here for a family adventure or a relaxing getaway, there is no better way to experience Banff’s pristine mountain landscape than on foot. Lace-up your boots, wax up your skis, strap on a pair of snowshoes and enjoy one of our many winter trails.
New Trail Connectors and Grooming
Parks Canada recently acquired an Alpina Sherpa, a snowmobile for better, faster, lower emission trail grooming. There are now 10 trails and over 50 km of groomed terrain for cross-country skiers in Lake Louise and another 11 trails and over 100 kilometres of easy, moderate, and difficult ungroomed terrain in the surrounding areas of the Bow Valley and Icefields Parkways.
Grooming equipment and trail connection improvements were made possible through the collaborative efforts of The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Banff Lake Louise Tourism, Parks Canada, and the financial support of the Improvement District #9.
Winter Walking and Snowshoeing Trails
The winter walking and snowshoeing trails follow summer hiking trails. They are not groomed or maintained during the winter season and may be slippery. Weather can change quickly and dramatically in Banff National Park. Be prepared to adjust your activity based on current conditions. As a general rule, if there is fresh snow, conditions may be better suited for snowshoeing; if the snow is old and well-travelled, it may be better for winter walking. If you are looking for trails not listed here visit Parks Canada’s Information Centres for additional trip planning assistance.
Lake Louise Area
Although snow can fall at any time of the year in Banff National Park, optimal skiing, winter walking and snowshoeing opportunities are from late-December to early April.
Etiquette and Safety
Be a mountain park steward. Show courtesy to fellow outdoor enthusiasts!
- Do not walk or snowshoe on the track set portion of cross country ski trails. The packed smooth middle is for skate skiing and the groomed tracks are for classic skiing.
- Do not skate-ski on the track set portion of a classic ski trail.
- When climbing, yield the right of way to descending skiers.
- If you fall, move off track as quickly as possible.
- When taking a break, step to the side, out of tracks.
- Leave no trace. Pack out everything you pack in.
If you are planning to take your dog out on a trail, please respect the following:
- Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
- Dog are not allowed on the following groomed cross country ski trails: Cascade Valley, Spray River Trail, Goat Creek and Spray River, and Redearth Creek.
- Dogs can add stress to wildlife; the sight of a dog reminds some animals of predators like wolves and coyotes. Keep your dog on a leash at all times to prevent it from chasing wildlife.
Winter offers a unique glimpse of wildlife as tracks in the snow reveal the story of their movements. It is a challenge for wildlife to survive through a Rocky Mountain winter, but you can help make it easier.
- If tracks are observed, do not follow them toward the animal.
- If you see wildlife, do not approach; give them lots of space and observe from a distance with binoculars or a telephoto lens.
- Safety is your responsibility. There are always hazards involved with outdoor recreational activities, especially during the winter. Be prepared. Even short trips from the Town of Banff can have serious consequences. Minimize your risk by planning ahead.
- Ask for advice at a Parks Canada Information Centre regarding current trail conditions, weather, and trail classifications.
- Be sure you have the most current information on trail conditions by checking trail reports online or by visiting a Parks Canada Information Centre. The report is updated as conditions change and trails are rated for their overall condition; grooming reports are included for cross country ski trails.
Travel beyond these trails may take you through avalanche terrain. In such cases, make sure you have the appropriate knowledge, skills and rescue equipment. For avalanche conditions visit a Parks Canada Information Centre or the avalanche bulletin.
Banff National Park
Environment Canada, Weather Forecast, 403-762-2088
Alberta Motor Association, Road Conditions, 403-762-1450
Avalanche Bulletin, 1-800-667-1105
For Banff area maps and guidebooks, visit a retail book outlet in the Town of Banff or Village of Lake Louise.
Cell phones are not always reliable throughout the park.