Rules of the road
  • Always ride on the right, pass others on their left. If you are riding on a road with a sidewalk, stay on the road.
  • Obey all traffic rules when riding on roads. At intersections, use hand signals to let drivers know which direction you will be travelling.
  • On highways, ride as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb. For your safety, it is recommended that you ride single file.
  • Stay within the posted speed limits.
  • Road closures, speed limits and traffic controls apply to bicyclists too. The Bow Valley Parkway Mandatory Seasonal Travel Restriction applies to all travel, including bicyclists. From March 1st to June 25th, travel is not permitted between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. on the 17-kilometre section of the parkway from Johnston Canyon Campground to the Fireside Picnic Area. This is to ensure the area remains a high quality home for wildlife.
  • Be visible when riding at dawn, dusk, or night. Always have a white front light and red rear and side reflectors and consider wearing reflective clothing.
  • Be bear aware. Cyclists are particularly susceptible to sudden, dangerous bear encounters because of the speed and silence of their travel. Be alert, make noise, slow down, carry bear spray, and look ahead.
  • Leave no trace. Be sure to pack out what you pack in – this includes all food and garbage. Leave natural and cultural objects undisturbed for others to discover.
  • Do the right thing – protect wildlife. Littering, feeding animals or harassing wildlife is illegal and violators may be charged under the Canada National Parks Act.
  • E-bikes (power-assisted bicycles) are prohibited on trails in Banff National Park, except: 
    • Trails within the town of Banff
    • The Banff Legacy Trail from the Banff East Gate, through the Town of Banff, to the east end of the Bow Valley Parkway
    • The Bow River Loop Trail from the Lake Louise campground or Bow River Bridge opposite of historic Lake Louise trail station (Station Restaurant)
    • Tramline Trail from opposite of the Lake Louise train station to the main parking lot at Upper Lake Louise
    • Great Divide Route from the parking lot at 3.6 km mark of the Lake Louise Drive
Share the roads and pathways
  • The bike trails in Banff National Park are all shared-use trails— expect to encounter hikers, vehicles and horseback riders. Ride in control and be ready to stop at any time.
  • If you are passing other bikers, walkers or runners, please be courteous. Use your voice or use a bell to let them know you’ll be passing on their left so they have a chance to move over.
Safety

You are responsible for your own safety. Be prepared for a breakdown or accident. Know how to repair your bike and carry the necessary tools and parts.

  • Select a trip which best suits your group’s abilities, experience, interests, equipment and the time you have available. Be conservative—start with easier, shorter routes. Park Canada staff or bike shop employees can help you select a suitable route.
  • Wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
  • Bring extra food, water and clothing. Surface water may be contaminated and unsafe for drinking. Mountain weather changes quickly and it can snow any month of the year.
  • Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Travel with others and keep your group together.
  • Avoid wearing earbuds. Be alert at all times.
  • Ask for advice at the Banff Visitor Centre about road conditions, descriptions, and weather.
Wildlife and people

The Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks are home to wildlife, including elk, wolves, cougars, and the remaining grizzly and black bear populations in North America. To successfully raise their young and sustain a healthy population, wildlife need access to as much quality habitat with as few human surprises as possible.

Be aware of possible encounters with wildlife, even on roads and paved trails.

Tips:

  • Carry bear spray with you at all times, ensure it is at hand, and know how to use it.
  • Slow down and make noise. Your speed and quietness puts you at risk for sudden wildlife encounters. Slow down through shrubby areas and when approaching blind corners. Travel in groups, be alert and always look ahead.

Report bear, cougar, wolf and coyote sightings and encounters to Parks Canada staff at 403-762-1470, when it is safe to do so.

Ratings


Family Friendly Rides

  • These routes are great for beginners, children, and riders seeking a gentle adventure. Mostly paved, these easy rides have minimal elevation changes and offer spectacular views
 

Easy Rides

  • Suitable for all cyclists, including those with little or no experience.
  • Flat to gently rolling.
  • Little or no elevation gain or loss.

Moderate Rides

  • Suitable for most cyclists who have some basic experience and are prepared with proper equipment and water.
  • Gently rolling with short, steep sections.
  • Moderate elevation gain or loss.

Difficult Rides

  • Suitable only for cyclists who have experience and are prepared with proper equipment and water.
  • Long, steep sections.
  • Major elevation gain or loss.
Trail Distance
 Sundance  3.7 km one way
 Tunnel Campground Loop 6.4 km loop
 Banff Legacy Trail 29 km one way
 Golf Course Drive 10,9 km loop
  Vermilion Lakes Drive  4,3 km one way
 Lake Minnewanka Road  13,1 km one way
 Tunnel Mountain Drive/Road  10,7 km loop
 Bow Valley Parkway (Banff to Lake Louise)  57,5 km one way
 Norquay Road  6,1 km one way
 Mountain Avenue  3,4 km one way
 Sunshine Road (Trans-Canada Highway to Sunshine Village parking lot)  8,2 km one way
Elevations are an approximate to give riders an idea of what to expect on each route. Elevations are calculated as the total amount of elevation gained and the total amount of elevation lost (all the ups and downs) over the entire distance of an out-and-back trail or a loop. 

 Family Friendly Rides 

Sundance 

3.7 km one way
Elevation gain 75 m, elevation loss 60 m
Starting Point: Cave and Basin National Historic Site

This paved trail is perfect for families with kids and bike trailers as it winds along the Bow River and climbs gently to the Sundance Canyon picnic area where you can explore a lovely creekside hiking trail. To experience the canyon, bring a bike lock.
Tunnel Campground Loop

6.4 km loop
Elevation gain 70 m
Starting Point: Tunnel Mountain Campground

Perfect for beginners and children, this simple trail forms a large loop around Tunnel Mountain Campground. Wider tires are best for this loose gravel trail and there are many places to stop and rest. Be sure to watch out for strolling campers, elk, deer and coyotes.
Banff Legacy Trail

29 km one way
Elevation gain 24 m, elevation loss 113 m
Starting Points: Valleyview, Cascade Ponds, Vermilion Lakes and Fireside day-use areas or east end of Banff Avenue

The Banff Legacy Trail offers cyclists, runners, roller skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts 29 km of paved trails and roadways with breathtaking views, rest stops and picnic areas. The trail connects the Bow Valley Parkway with the Town of Banff, Cascade Ponds, the Banff East Gate and the Town of Canmore. This three-season trail is typically snow-free and ridable from April to October. An absolute must.

 Easy Rides

Golf Course Drive

10.9 km loop
Elevation gain 68 m, elevation loss 68 m
Starting Point: Bow Falls parking area

Cross the bridge over the Spray River at the end of the parking area, and you’re off. Perfect for a family outing, this road winds gently along the golf course before it loops back. This is a peaceful road with lovely views over the Bow River and surrounding peaks. While close to town, be alert – wildlife also enjoy this area. 

Vermilion Lakes Drive
4.3 km one way
Mostly flat
Starting Point: Fenland day-use area, paved trail to Vermilion Lakes Drive
 
Vermilion Lakes are a series of three shallow lakes surrounded by marshland – a rich oasis for wildlife. The ride along this narrow road provides classic views of Banff’s signature peak, Mount Rundle. There are benches, bike racks and small docks where you can relax with a snack and enjoy the view. Connector: Banff Legacy Trail to the Bow Valley Parkway.

 Moderate Rides

Lake Minnewanka Road

13.1 km loop
Elevation gain 160 m, elevation loss 160 m
Starting Points: Cascade Ponds and Lake Minnewanka day-use area or the Banff Legacy Trail

Lake Minnewanka Road is popular with cyclists and offers a pleasant ride through varied terrain, with panoramic views and many attractions including Cascade Ponds, Bankhead, Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. This narrow road can be busy, so ride with caution and be on the lookout for bighorn sheep on the slopes above Two Jack Lake. Connector: Banff Legacy Trail.

Tunnel Mountain Drive/Road

10.7 km loop
Elevation gain 180 m, elevation loss 180 m
Starting Point: Central Park parking area, West end of Buffalo Street

Start by heading east on Buffalo Street, rising gently past Surprise Corner with its extraordinary view over Bow Falls and the world famous Fairmont Banff Springs. Continue climbing and bending around its lower slopes to join the Tunnel Mountain Road. Turn right (East) and pass the campgrounds for incredible viewpoints before you drop back down to the Banff Legacy Trail. Go left into town, or right towards Lake Minnewanka. Elk and deer are common along this narrow roadway.
Bow Valley Parkway

57.5 km one way (Banff to Lake Louise)
Elevation gain 340 m, elevation loss 177 m
Starting Points: From downtown Banff, access the trail via Vermillion Lakes Drive and the Banff Legacy Trail or begin at Fireside (49 km one way).

The Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A) ride is a classic, gently rising and falling as it meanders through the Bow Valley to Castle Junction, and beyond to Lake Louise. On your trip, stop and enjoy the many picnic areas and rest stops along the way. This narrow road ride is often done from Banff, return, for a solid 115 km round trip, and can also be done as shorter trips. From Banff, ride to Johnson Canyon (50 km return), Castle Junction (65 km return), or Baker Creek (90 km return). For a multi-day trip, consider a guided or self-guided ride to Jasper (290 km one way). Whatever your route, wildlife sightings are common, so keep a look out and be prepared.

 Difficult Rides

Norquay Road

6.1 km one way
Elevation gain 327 m, elevation loss 12 m
Starting Point: Norquay Road, on the North side of the Trans-Canada Highway

This challenging climb up the mountain rewards riders with a spectacular panoramic view of the Banff townsite and surrounding Bow Valley. The Norquay Green Spot Viewpoint opens onto a grassy slope – a great place to stop for a picnic lunch or for photos. From the viewpoint, the road continues up to the Norquay ski area. Watch out for Bighorn Sheep on or near the road and the sharp turns, especially on the way down.

Mountain Avenue

3.4 km one way
Elevation gain 214 m, elevation loss 32 m
Starting Point: Mountain Avenue, on the South side of the Banff Avenue Bridge

This route is a gradual, but continuous climb ending at the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Gains in elevation from the valley bottom provide riders with exceptional views of the Bow Valley and the rugged profile of Mount Rundle. Mountain Avenue offers ample width for riders, however, vehicular traffic can be heavier during the summer.

Sunshine Road

8.2 km one way
Elevation gain 271 m, no elevation loss
Starting Point: Sunshine Ski Area Road, 7 km West of Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway

The Sunshine Road begins its steady rise almost immediately, and offers a few steep ramps along the way to its termination at the ski area parking at the base of the Sunshine gondola. Vehicular traffic is moderate in the summer months, but be aware as the road is narrow throughout its length. Watch for wildlife along this twisty mountain road.