Winter Trails in the Banff Area
Cross Country Skiing | Winter Walking and Snowshoeing Trails
Trail Classifications | Safety & 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.
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.
Sundance Trail to Sundance Canyon (2)
3.2 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.
Castle Junction (3a)
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.
Baker Creek to Protection Mountain Campground (3b)
3.9 km Trailhead: Across the road from Baker Creek Chalets
This single track set trail (labelled #2 on-site) runs parallel to the parkway, and starts across the road from the Baker Creek Chalets.
Castle Mountain Lookout to Protection Mountain Campground (3c)
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. Spray River Trail West and East (4)
4a) 5.7 km one way from Spray River West trailhead to Spray River bridge
4b) 5.6 km one way from Spray River bridge to Spray River East trailhead (Golf Course Road)
Park at Spray River West trailhead (behind The Fairmont Banff Springs) East trailhead:
Park at the Bow Falls day-use area and cross thSpray River Bridge (gated in winter). Trail starts at the Spray River East trailhead.
The entire trail is double track set with an additional skating lane on the west side of the river. This trail is the locals’ favourite offering rolling terrain in a picturesque river valley, with views of The Fairmont Banff Springs. Bring a snack; there is a picnic spot beside the river at the bridge. Avalanche Hazard:
From the Spray River trailheads, infrequent avalanche paths from both Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain cross the Spray River shortly before the bridge at km 4.5 - 5km. Do not stop in this area. Goat Creek and Spray River (5) 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. Brewster Creek (6) 6a) 2.6 km one way to Brewster Creek Junction
6b) 5 km one way
6c) 13.5 km one way to Sundance Lodge West Trailhead:
Brewster Creek parking lot East Trailhead:
Park at Cave & Basin National Historic Site. Trail starts west of building.
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. Redearth Creek (7) 10 km one way
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. Cascade Valley (8)
8a) 7.2 km one way to Cascade River bridge (from parking area)
8b) 15.4 km one way to Stoney Creek bridge (from parking area)
Lake Minnewanka parking lot
Double trackset with skating lane to Cascade River bridge. Single trackset 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.
Winter Walking and Snowshoeing Trails
Johnson Lake (9)
2.8 km loop
Trailhead: Park at Johnston Lake day-use area, walk just past the picnic tables
This picturesque trail follows the lakeside shoreline. 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.
Tunnel Mountain Drive (10)
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 (#14).
Johnston Canyon (11)
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 (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.
Stewart Canyon (12)
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.
Marsh Loop (13)
2.8 km loop
Trailhead: Start at the Cave and Basin 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!
Hoodoos Viewpoint (14)
14a) 5.1 km one way from Surprise Corner to Hoodoos viewpoint
Trailhead: Start at Surprise Corner parking lot on Tunnel Mountain Drive.
14b) 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.
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.
Fenland Trail (15)
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).
Spray Connector (16)
2 km one way
Trailhead: Start at the Spray River West trailhead and take the Spray Connector located 0.7 km on the left side of the trail to end at the Spray River East trailhead located on the Golf Course Road.
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.
Ink Pots via Moose Meadows (17)
5.3 km one way
Trailhead: Moose Meadows trailhead 27 km west of Banff on the Bow Valley Parkway (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.
Tunnel Mountain Summit (18)
2.4 km one way
Trailhead: Lower parking lot on St. Julien Road below The 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.
Dogs are not allowed on the following groomed cross country ski trails: Cascade Valley, Spray River Trail, Goat Creek and Spray River, Castle Mountain Lookout, Baker Creek, Redearth Creek and Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court.
- Suitable for any type of visitor.
- Estimated time to complete the trail is no longer than 2 – 3 hours.
- Little or no elevation gain or loss.
- Suitable for most visitors with some experience and at least an average level of fitness.
- Estimated time to complete the trail is no longer than 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.