Winter trails in the Banff area
Cross-country skiing | Winter walking and snowshoeing | Fat biking and snowshoeing
All winter activities | Trail classifications | Safety and etiquette
Winter Trails in the Banff Area (Printable brochure)
Note: Not all sign-posted summer destinations are safe for winter travel. If you plan to travel beyond the designated winter destinations described below, you should have avalanche knowledge, skills and equipment.
Recommended cross-country skiing - track set
Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court (1)
5.7 km of trails
Trailhead: Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court Campground entrance. Turn right after campground kiosk and park at barricades.
Two seasonally closed campgrounds offer first time skiers the perfect place to try out a new sport. Get your evening fitness fix with 2.6 km of lit trails in Trailer Court or explore the quiet, forested loops of Village 1. The trailhead is within walking distance of Roam public transit.
Spray River West Trail (2)
5.7 km one way from Spray River West trailhead to Spray River bridge West
Trailhead: Park at Spray River West trailhead, behind Fairmont Banff Springs
The entire trail is double track set with a skate skiing lane. This trail is a locals’ favourite offering rolling terrain in a picturesque river valley with views of Fairmont Banff Springs. Bring a snack; there is a picnic spot beside the river near the bridge. Avalanche hazard: Infrequent avalanche paths from both Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain cross the Spray River at 4.5 - 5 km from the Spray River trailheads. Do not stop in this area.
Baker Creek to Protection Mountain Campground (3)
3.9 km one way
Trailhead: Across the road from Baker Creek Chalets
This single track set trail (labelled #2 on-site) runs parallel to the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A), and starts across the road from the Baker Creek Chalets.
Castle Mountain Lookout to Protection Mountain Campground (4)
6.4 km one way
Trailhead: Castle Mountain trailhead
This single track set trail links the two existing cross country ski trails on the Bow Valley Parkway. Travel this unique path to discover a new perspective on the original auto-route through Banff National Park.
Castle Junction (5)
9.5 km of trails in area
Trailhead: Castle Junction on the Bow Valley Parkway (1A)
A series of interconnected single track set trails that wind through spruce forest. The main trail runs from Castle Junction to Castle Mountain Lookout.
Cascade Valley (6)
15.4 km one way (7.2 km from parking area to Cascade River bridge, plus 8.2 km to Stoney Creek bridge)
Trailhead: Lake Minnewanka parking lot
Double trackset with skating lane to Cascade River bridge. Single track set with pleasant rolling terrain for the remaining route to Stoney Creek. A sunny trail with good views and a fun downhill return trip. For a short 1.3 km ski, try the trail from Lake Minnewanka day-use area to Upper Bankhead.
Recommended winter walking and snowshoeing trails
Stewart Canyon (7)
1.5 km one way
Trailhead: Past the Lake Minnewanka day-use area
A short walk through the Lake Minnewanka day-use area will lead you to the trailhead. Explore the Cascade River which feeds Banff National Park’s largest lake. This trail can be very icy, especially during the spring.
Fenland Trail (8)
2.1 km loop
Trailhead: Fenland trail parking lot on Mt. Norquay Road
This is a peaceful interpretive trail under old growth spruce trees. Great for families with young children. For a longer walk from Banff townsite, start at Central Park and follow the Bow River to the Fenland trailhead. Walk east, just over the railway tracks on Mt. Norquay Road (0.9 km one way).
Marsh Loop (9)
2.8 km loop
Trailhead: Start at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site parking lot
This trail is located in the wide expanse of the Bow Valley and circles the Cave and Basin Marsh. It comes alive in the winter with birds and is a great place to see animal tracks.
Johnson Lake (10)
2.8 km loop
Trailhead: Park at Johnston Lake day-use area
This picturesque trail follows the lakeside shoreline and includes breathtaking views of Cascade and Rundle mountains. Nestled amongst Douglas fir, spruce and pine trees, visitors can experience the richest biological zone in Banff National Park – the montane ecoregion.
Johnston Canyon (11a, 11b)
11a) 1.1 km one way to the Lower Falls
11b) 2.7 km one way to the Upper Falls (from parking area)
Trailhead: Johnston Canyon day-use area, 22 km west of Banff on Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A)
Travel in the depths of the canyon along walkways that lead to the Lower Falls or to the spectacular 30 m high frozen Upper Falls. The trail is usually very slippery – cleats are strongly recommended. Travel an additional 3.5 km beyond the Upper Falls to reach the Ink Pots.
Hoodoos Viewpoint (12a, 12b)
12a) 2.3 km one way on Douglas Fir trail to Hoodoos viewpoint
Trailhead: Start just past Douglas Fir Resort at intersection of Tunnel Mountain Road and Tunnel Mountain Drive
12b) 5.1 km one way from Surprise Corner to Hoodoos viewpoint
Trailhead: Start at Surprise Corner parking lot on Tunnel Mountain Drive
From Surprise Corner, the trail takes you through forested areas until you reach the Douglas Fir trail. This sunny trail provides open vistas to the Hoodoos viewpoint. Keep an eye out for wildlife and watch for icy sections. You can make a loop or return to town along Tunnel Mountain Road.
Tunnel Mountain Summit (13)
2.4 km one way
Trailhead: Lower parking lot on St. Julien Road below Banff Centre
Reach the summit of a mountain in the heart of Banff’s townsite. Take in breathtaking views of the Bow and Spray valleys. This steep trail can be extremely icy. Ice cleats and hiking poles are strongly recommended.
Ink Pots via Moose Meadows (14)
5.3 km one way
Trailhead: Moose Meadows trailhead 27 km west of Banff on the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A)
A quiet alternative to the busier Johnston Canyon trail, this trail climbs through thick forest to an open meadow with brilliantly coloured mineral springs.
Recommended fat biking and snowshoeing trails
Spray River East Trail (15)
5.6 km one way from Spray River East trailhead to Spray River bridge
Trailhead: Park at the Bow Falls day-use area, walk across the bridge and past the gate on Golf Course Road. Follow the road 100 m to the Spray River East trailhead kiosk, take the east-most trail
This trail offers rolling terrain in a picturesque river valley. As the snow falls throughout the year, snowshoers flatten the trail and fat bikers compact the snow, creating a hard-packed trail for both. Bring a snack; there is a picnic spot beside the river near the bridge.
Avalanche hazard: Infrequent avalanche paths from both Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain cross the Spray River at 4.5 - 5 km from the Spray River trailheads. Do not stop in this area.
Banff Avenue Trail (16)
3.2 km one way
Starting points: East end of Banff Avenue at the junction with Legacy Trail or Tunnel Mountain Road
Access this trail from the start of the Legacy Trail located at the east end of Banff Avenue. Ride or walk 100 m until you see a steep path going up through thick forest. Beware of icy conditions. The trail levels off gradually until it reaches an open meadow; head left on nice rolling singletrack. This north facing slope retains snow well and is a reliable fat biking experience. The trail ends at Tunnel Mountain Road. Return the same way or connect with the Tunnel Loop (Coastline) and return to town via the Hoodoos Viewpoint trail (12a).
Upper Stoney Squaw Loop (17)
4.5 km loop
Trailhead: Immediate right at Mt. Norquay ski hill parking lot
This narrow, technically challenging 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 twisting technical trail back to the old ski runs above the Mt. Norquay day lodge.
Lake Minnewanka (18)
8 km one way to Aylmer Pass junction
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. Some sections may be very icy – be alert.
Tunnel Loop (19)
9.7 km loop
Starting points: Hoodoos viewpoint parking area or Tunnel Mountain Campground
Typically ridden clockwise, this popular loop links various trails into a winding and varied entry-level singletrack with minimal elevation gain. Join via the Tunnel Mountain Campground loop and travel a short distance to a well-marked intersection; merge with The Spine. This 1.8 km section hugs the campground before entering a forested area winding through large Douglas fir trees, ending at Tunnel Mountain Road. Turn right and follow the narrow trail to the stop sign; cross the road and continue in the same direction until you see the marker for Coastline. This segment follows the bench above the Cascade River for 2.8 km and offers spectacular views of the valley. Some sections have vertical exposure. Cross the service road and head right for a short distance to connect with Teddy Bear’s Picnic, on your left. This easy 1.5 km portion will lead you to the junction of Don’s By-pass which you can ride down to the Hoodoos Day-use Area. Return to your start point via the Hoodoos Viewpoint trail (12a).
For an alternate route, after you enter onto Teddy Bear’s Picnic from the service road, watch for the trail junction to Stinky D. This forested trail opens up to wide-open picturesque views of the valley, then loops around to Wolf Scat Alley, bringing you back to Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Either return the same way you came along Coastline, or continue onto Don’s By-pass.
Recommended trails for all winter activities
Tunnel Mountain Drive (20)
1.7 km one way
Trailhead: Start at the closed gate at the intersection of Tunnel Mountain Drive and St. Julien Way
Closed to vehicles in the winter, this route provides splendid snowshoe opportunities with views of Cascade Mountain. It also connects with the Surprise Corner to Hoodoos Viewpoint trail (12a or 12b).
Spray Connector (21)
2 km one way
Trailhead: Park at the Bow Falls day-use area, walk across the bridge and past the gate on Golf Course Road. Follow the road 100 m to the Spray River East trailhead kiosk, take the trail closest to the Spray River
For those seeking a short outing close to town, the Spray Connector links the Spray River East trail to Spray River West trail via a small scenic bridge. If conditions are icy, ice cleats are strongly recommended.
Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court (22)
3.4 km of trails
Trailhead: Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court Campground entrance. Turn right after campground kiosk and park at barricades.
Looking for a place to get a feel for fat biking on wide, groomed trails? Want to enjoy a quiet stroll in nature with your dog or try out snowshoeing after a big snowfall? The flat terrain of Trailer Court has something for everyone. Located close to town, it is a short drive or Roam public transit ride away.
Sundance Trail to Sundance Canyon (23)
3.9 km one way
Trailhead: Park at Cave & Basin National Historic Site, trail starts west of building.
This trail offers spectacular views of the Bow Valley while winding through forested areas to the Sundance Canyon picnic area. Sections of the trail are single and double track set. Enjoy the moderately difficult canyon loop by foot or snowshoe; bikes are not permitted past the bike racks.
Healy Creek (24)
5.6 km one way from Healy/Brewster Parking Lot to the Sundance Canyon junction
West Trailhead: Healy/Brewster Parking Lot East Trailhead: Park at Cave and Basin National Historic Site, start at Sundance Trail west of the building
This forested trail close to the Town of Banff is ideal for visitors wanting to experience a taste of the backcountry. Track setting occurs when adequate snow is available. For a shorter one-way trip, arrange for a drop-off at the Healy/Brewster parking lot, and ski, snowshoe, winter hike, or fat bike into the town; there is a short trail that will bring you from the Cave and Basin National Historic Site along Cave Avenue to the parking lot just before the Banff Avenue bridge.
Brewster Creek (25)
9.8 km one way (2.6 km from Healy/Brewster Parking lot to Brewster Creek junction, plus 7.2 km to Sundance Lodge)
Trailhead: Healy/Brewster parking lot
This trail offers scenic valley views through open and forested areas. Track setting occurs when adequate snow is available. For the more experienced, take a detour to Sundance Lodge. Note that hills can get icy.
Redearth Creek (26)
10 km one way
Trailhead: Redearth Creek trailhead, 20 km west of Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway.
The trail climbs gradually through lodgepole pine forests to the Shadow Lake trail. The last few kilometres back to the highway can be exhilarating, be extra cautious if conditions are icy.
Avalanche Hazard: From the Redearth Creek trailhead, two infrequent avalanche paths cross the trail at kms 3.3 and 4.4. At kms 6.3 – 8, beyond two bridges, infrequent avalanche paths from Copper Mountain exist above the trail. Do not stop in these areas.
Goat Creek and Spray River (27)
18.7 km one way
Trailhead: Goat Creek trailhead 8 km south of Canmore on Smith-Dorrien Road or Spray River West trailhead.
The double track set trail can be skied in either direction. Most people choose to start at the Goat Creek trailhead located just outside the park boundaries above Canmore and ski downhill most of the way to Banff. Vehicle shuttle recommended.
- Suitable for most visitors.
- Estimated time to complete the trail is up to 2 – 3 hours.
- Little or no elevation gain or loss.
- Suitable for most visitors with some trail experience and a basic fitness level. Everyone should be prepared—see winter safety guidelines.
- Estimated time to complete the trail is up to 5 hours.
- May experience moderate elevation gain with some short steep sections.
*Note: Easy and moderate trails can become difficult trails due to weather change, icy conditions and poor visibility.
Safety is your responsibility. There are always hazards associated with outdoor recreational activities. Even short trips from the Town of Banff 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/trails.
- When trails are icy, hiking poles and ice cleats can make winter hiking much more enjoyable.
- 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.
Be aware that thousands of avalanches occur throughout Banff National Park every year. Visitors wishing to venture beyond the limits of the trails described in this guide should assume that they are travelling in avalanche terrain and should be prepared with the appropriate knowledge, skills and equipment. Trails in this guide that may be affected by avalanches have been identified with an avalanche symbol. For more information on the avalanche hazard, visit parksmountainsafety.ca or a Parks Canada Visitor Centre. Look for the Avalanche Terrain Ratings brochure and the current Avalanche Forecast.
Recommended packing list
- 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
- Wear a helmet when fat biking
For additional information on winter packing visit Parks Mountain Safety.