Rules of the trail

Riding non-designated or closed trails, building new trails, or riding off-trail displaces wildlife and destroys soil and vegetation. These activities are also illegal and violators may be charged under the Canada National Parks Act.

  • 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.
  • Ride designated trails. It is your responsibility to know where you can and cannot legally ride.
  • Avoid riding during extreme conditions. Wet, muddy or very dry trails are more likely to be damaged.
  • Help preserve the quality of trails. Ride, don’t slide—avoid skidding your tires by hard braking. Ride over obstacles, not around them. If obstacles are above your skill level, walk your bike.
  • Ride within your limits. Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk.
  • Leave no trace. Be sure to pack out what you pack in. Leave natural and cultural objects undisturbed for others to discover.
  • For the safety of wildlife, your pet and yourself, keep your dog under control and on a leash at all times.
  • Yield appropriately. Let your fellow trail users know you are coming. Make each pass a safe and courteous one. Cyclists travelling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill.
  • 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 trail
  • 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.
  • Bicycles are fast and quiet, and can easily spook horses. When approaching oncoming horses, move to the side of the trail, stop and allow the horse party to pass. When passing horses from behind, slow down, let riders know of your presence before you get too close, and ask for instructions.
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.

  • Choose rides that match your group’s abilities. Be conservative—start with easier, shorter trails. Parks 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 trail 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
 
 

Easy Rides

  • Suitable for all cyclists, including those with little or no experience.
  • Flat to gently rolling with no obstacles.
  • 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 and infrequent obstacles.
  • 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 with frequent obstacles.
  • Major elevation gain or loss.
Trail Distance
 Bow River Loop  7.1 km loop
 Tramline  4.5 km one way
 Pipestone  7.2 km one way
 Ross Lake  7.3 km one way
 Moraine Lake Highline  9.3 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.

 Easy Rides

Bow River Loop

7.1 km loop
No elevation gain
Trailhead: Lake Louise Campground or opposite the historic Lake Louise train station (Station Restaurant) beside Bow River bridge

Ideal for families, this gentle riverside trail travels both sides of the Bow River and can be shortened by cutting across any of the bridges. Interpretive signs along the way highlight the Bow River ecosystem. This trail is popular with pedestrians who may not hear your approach above the river’s sound; ride respectfully and make your approach known. This route connects with the Tramline Trail. 

Tramline

4.5 km one way
Elevation gain 195 m
Trailhead: Opposite Lake Louise train station (Station Restaurant) beside Bow River bridge

This wide trail is the former route of a tramway (1912 to 1930). It offers a quiet ride up and down from the valley floor to upper Lake Louise. The trail comes out at the upper Lake Louise parking lots, an alternative starting point for a downhill ride on this trail.

 Moderate Rides

Pipestone

7.2 km one way
Elevation gain 165 m
Trailhead: Slate Road, turn off Trans-Canada Highway, 1.5 km west of Lake Louise

This well-defined gravel and dirt trail heads up along the Pipestone River into the Pipestone Valley north of Lake Louise. Watch for horse users and bears. Not far from the trailhead, an 800 m side trail offers a short, sometimes muddy, trip to Mud Lake. Cyclists are not permitted beyond the bike turnaround point at km 7.2.

 Difficult Rides

Ross Lake

7.3 km one way, no elevation gain, difficult
Trailhead: Tucked behind the Chateau Lake Louise staff residences

One of the few trails that crosses from Banff to Yoho National Park, this trail winds and dips through sub-alpine forest to a small lake nestled against an impressive rock wall. Expect to yield to horse traffic on the first 100 m. A challenging 1.3 km trail down along Ross Creek connects to the Great Divide Road allowing a loop return.

Moraine Lake Highline

9.3 km one way, elevation gain 305 m, difficult
Trailhead: Small parking area on the right, 2.5 km up Moraine Lake Road

The most demanding of the Lake Louise trails, this single-track trail climbs onto the shoulder of Mount Temple and then descends to Moraine Lake, one of the loveliest spots in the Canadian Rockies. Hikers are often encountered on the first km from the trailhead. Roots and rocks on the narrow trail might pose a challenge. The upper trail section, often exposed as it follows side hills, offers tremendous views. The trail can be combined with Moraine Lake Road to make a loop. When buffalo berries (an important food for bears) ripen in mid to late summer, the upper section of this trail is closed to all users. This will allow grizzly bears to forage undisturbed and keep visitors safer. A stub trail allows access from the trail to the Moraine Lake Road at the bottom of the seasonal trail closure. Check with Lake Louise Visitor Centre staff and trailhead signs for closure dates and important information.