Banff Cycling

Banff National Park is world renowned and of course the scenery is the reason why. Mountain biking is a great way to see some of the spectacular areas in the back country. You can often reach one of the parks visual wonders in a few hours that might take and over night hike if you were to go on foot.

If you have the panniers and you're reasonably fit, this is a great place to do some mountain bike camping. There are 14 park trails, consisting mostly of fireroad and jeep track with some single track thrown in for good measure. In total the trail network encompasses almost 250 km, with levels ranging from easy to difficult. Remember to ride safely and keep a keen eye on where you are at all times with the use of a map - this is very muchl a wilderness area.

 
 

Road cyclists have died and gone to heaven in Banff. The Icefields Parkway is considered one of the finest rides in the world. While the grades are reasonable considering the surroundings a certain level of fitness is required. If you use a tour company you can rely on them to transport luggage as well as ensure accommodations. The cost is a little more but the convenience can be well worth it.

Banff Mountain Biking

The Sundance trail starts at the Cave and Basin and ends at the Sundance Canyon hiking trail. It can be linked to the Healy Creek route. Length of trail: 3.7 km

The Bryant Creek Trail leaves from the Trail Center and continues to the intersection of the trail to Allenby Pass. Length of trail: 10.7 km

The Lake Minnewanka Trail extends from Lake Minnewanka to Devils Pass. The trail takes you across a large wooden truss bridge to a narrow side trail that wanders up Stewart Canyon or the main trail swings left and then switchbacks uphill through a forested area before opening up and then goes to the lake. The Minnewanka Lake is the largest lake in the park and is an important center of life for many animal and birds. Length of trail: 36 km

Brewster Creek Trail goes to Bryant Creek from Healy Creek Road by way of Allenby Pass. It has the distinction of being the longest trail in the park. Length of trail: 48 km

Alexandra Fireroad Trail is a 26.5 km fire road

Pipestone Trail heads out from the Pipestone parking lot. Length of trail: 6.3 km

The Johnson Lake Trails are made up of a number of trails in the Johnson Lake area with about 12 km of mountain bike riding available

The Saskatchewan Road Trail starts at the Saskatchewan Crossing and goes for 4 km

Goat Creek Trail extends from and can be linked with the Spray Fireroad Trail and terminates at Canmore Road. Length of trail: 8.4 km

Healy Creek Road Trail start from the junction with the Sundance Trail to Sunshine Road. The trail links up with the Sundance Trail. Length of trail: 4.8 km

Cascade Fireroad Trail goes to Stoney Creek and starts at the Upper Bankhead parking lot. Length of trail: 9 km

Temple Road is a short trail to the Temple Lodge from the Fish Creek parking lot. Length of trail: 4 km

The Redearth Trail extends from Hwy 1 to the Redearth Warden Cabin. Length of trail: 12 km

Although this is a popular area some of the trails will take you a good distance from help. Be fully prepared for inclement weather, mechanical breakdowns and don't exclude the possibility of getting lost. Bikes are fast and relativly silent which can increase the possiblity of a close encounter with a bear - use extra caution while riding in the park. Consult with the park wardens about bear sitings, trail closures and conditions before you set out.


 

Banff Cycling

The Classic Ride is the Icefields Parkway which runs from Jasper to Lake Louise but many (if not most) continue on to Banff, approximately 300km in total.. The prefered direction is from Jasper to Banff as their is an elevation loss of over 500m. Of course that by no means should suggest it's all down hill - it isn't. There are two passes which you must climb on route, the Sunwapta and Bow which will take you to 2000m from your starting elevation of approximately 1000m in Jasper. If you're in moderate good condition and you know how to sit a bike comfortably, you shouldn't have a problem. It's not a bad idea to do some training in hilly areas before you head out, after all it is the Rockies. The best plan is to have a loose itinerary to allow you to set your own pace. You be glad you took this approach (even if you find the cycling easy) once you see how many places on route and side trips that will entice you to go exploring.

Accommodations and supplies should be well thought out, particulary during the high season. There aren't much in the way of services between Jasper and Lake Louise, so make sure your prepared. There are five hostels along route but you must reserve. Altenately there are twelve campgrounds but remember it's first come first served. There are also several lodges on on the way (or within cycling distance - inquire first) but reservations made well in advance are essential.

Of course it can rain in the parks every few days or so - keep that in mind. Another weather related factor to consider is head winds, if the wind is howling it can slow you to a crawl in sections. Remember this is the mountains, so the nights will be cool and it can drop below freezing even in the summer.

Now with all the caveates out of the way what you'll see and experience is one of the world's most magnificant areas. Spectacular snow cover peaks, glaciers which reach down almost to the roadway, emerald lakes, a wide variety of wildlife and the exhileration and satisfaction of seeing it all under your own power.

See our resources section for a list of some of the companies which provide supported and unsupported tours. As well as accommodations, camping, hostels and more.

The park lists serveral shorter rides in and around Banff and Lake Louise. Inquire with the park staff for more information.

  • Vermillion Lakes Drive - 5.7km one way, Banff
  • Golf Course Drive - 15km loop, Banff
  • Lake Minniwanka Road - 24km loop
  • Mount Norquey Road - 15km return
  • Tunnel Mountain Drive - 15km loop
  • Moraine Lake Road - 14.9km one way
  • Lake Louise to Lake O'Hara Road - 14.1km one way
  • Lake Louise to Castle Junction - 28km one way

 

 

Resources

Banff

Out-There's Banff Main Page


Banff's Neighbours

Related Links

 

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