Winter Trails in the Banff Area
Cross Country Skiing
Snowshoeing / Winter Walking
Safety & Etiquette
Winter Trails in the Banff Area (Printable brochure)
Notice - In late June 2013, the eastern half of Banff National Park received significant rainfall. Warnings are in place for trails with severe erosion or bridges out. Check the Trail Report for the most up-to-date conditions.
1) Castle Junction
8.7 km of trails in area
Trailhead: Castle Junction on the Bow Valley Parkway (1A)
A series of interconnected forested trails that begin at Castle Mountain Bungalows.
2) Brewster Creek
10.5 km one way to Sundance Lodge
Trailhead: Take Sunshine Road 0.3 km from Trans-Canada Highway to Brewster Creek Trailhead.
Ski along the south side of Healy Creek for 1.7 km to the Brewster Creek junction. This trail follows an old road steadily up through dense forest. A moderate climb turns into a quick ski on the return trip. The turnaround point is at Sundance Lodge.
3) Cascade Valley
3a) 6.4 km one way to Cascade River Bridge
3b) 14.6 km one way to Stoney Creek Bridge Trailhead: 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 Bridge. A sunny trail with good views and a fun downhill return trip.
4) Spray River Trail West and East
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)
Trailhead: Park at Spray River West Trailhead (behind The Fairmont Banff Springs) or from the east side, start at the Bow Falls day-use area and cross the Spray River Bridge (gated in winter). Trail starts at the Spray River East Trailhead.
The entire trail is double trackset 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.
5) Goat Creek and Spray River
18.7 km one way
Trailhead: Goat Creek Trailhead 8 km south of Canmore on Smith- Dorrien Road or Spray River West Trailhead.
The 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.
6) Redearth Creek
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 to the highway can be exhilarating.
7) Johnson Lake Trail
2.8 km loop
Trailhead: Park at Johnston Lake day-use area, walk just past the Johnson Lake picnic area.
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.
8) Sundance Trail to Sundance Canyon
3.6 km one way
Trailhead: During the renovation of the Cave & Basin National Historic Site park at the recreation grounds and walk to the Sundance trail. This trail starts just after the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. It offers spectacular views of the Bow Valley and winds through the forest to the Sundance Canyon picnic area.
9) Tunnel Mountain Drive
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).
10) Ink Pots via Moose Meadows Trail
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.
11) Johnston Canyon Trail
11a) 1.1 km one way to the Lower Falls
11b) 2.7 km one way to the Upper Falls
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 the spectacular 30m 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.
12) Stewart Canyon Trail
1.5 km one way
Trailhead: Lake Minnewanka Trailhead past the day-use area.
A short walk through the Minnewanka day use area will take you to the Stewart Canyon Trailhead. Explore the Cascade River which feeds Banff National Park’s largest lake. This trail can be very icy, especially during the spring.
13) Bow River Bridge to Cave and Basin National Historic Site Interpretive Boardwalk/Marsh Loop
1.4 km one way to Cave and Basin from the Bow River Bridge
2.4 km loop to hike the Marsh
Trailhead: Start at Bow River Bridge downtown Banff or at the recreation grounds.
A short walk on the south side of the Bow River will take you to the Cave and Basin NHS. While it is closed this winter for renovations, the interpretive boardwalk trail and the Marsh Loop remain open for exploration of unique thermal spring’s habitat. A great place for winter birdwatching!
14) Hoodoos Viewpoint
14a) 5.1 km one way Surprise Corner to Hoodoos Viewpoint Trailhead: Start at Surprise Corner parking lot on Tunnel Mountain Drive.
14b) 2.3 km one way 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.
15) Fenland Trail
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 (0,9 km one way) from Banff townsite, start at Central Park along the Bow River to Fenland Trailhead east just over the railway tracks on Mt. Norquay Road.
16) Tunnel Mountain Summit
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. Hiking poles are strongly recommended.
- 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.
- Suitable for experienced visitors with above average level of fitness.
- Estimated time to complete the trail may exceed 5 hours.
- May experience major elevation gain with long steep sections.
*Note: Easy and moderate trails can become difficult trails due to weather change, icy conditions and poor visibility.