Exploring biking trails around Banff was our everyday pleasure when we moved from Slovakia to Banff in Canada. It is our favourite activity in any new place. That’s why we brought our mountain bikes with us across the world. Let us show you the best trails in Banff.
I remember waking up the first day in Banff, tired and jetlagged, and Michal was already putting our bikes into one piece. As we found out, biking is also great for beating up the jetlag.
Living in the mountains gave us lots of options, although not all of them for biking. Not all trails allow biking in national park. Fortunately there are also bike paths and roads which will lead you to many lakes and waterfalls around Banff.
Our favourite biking trails around Banff:
Although you need to purchase a park pass for entering Banff national park, all the trails are free to use.
Tunnel Mountain area
Only mountain biking trails right in town
10 km loop (easy)
Trail is easily accessible from town and is making loop around Tunnel Mountain. It is a rolling dirt/gravel single track enjoyable for all ages. You ride mostly in the forest, with occasional views of Bow River, Hoodoos and Bow Valley.
You can combine the loop with more advanced trail – The Toe. There are few other short trails which are all connected. All trails are clearly marked so the difficulty and length of your bike ride is up to you.
We rode very slowly the first time as there was just too many stops to enjoy the view.
Barbeque spot near Banff
12 km roundtrip (easy)
When starting from town and biking around Tunnel Mountain, you can get off the trail halfway and connect onto biking path. Then just a short ride on the road and you are at Cascade ponds.
Another option is starting on the biking path at the end of town, this will make 12 km round trip.
Nice picnic spot with plenty of bbq’s and benches. Just bring your lunch!
Relaxing and quite spot at the lake
24 km roundtrip (easy)
If you are up to a longer ride, follow the Lake Minnewanka scenic drive (which brought you to Cascade ponds) even further for 6 km and you’ll arrive at Johnson Lake.
Starting from Banff on the biking path, the round trip is 24 km.
Popular spot for stand up paddle boarding in summer and skating in winter. Being able to cool off my legs in a quite cold lake was my favourite part.
One of the most scenic ride around Banff
20 km roundtrip (easy) – to Lake Minnewanka
30 km roundtrip (intermediate) – along Lake Minnewanka
This can be done 3 different ways:
- Biking from Banff to Lake Minnewanka (it can be ridden as a loop from Cascade ponds), which is on biking path and road only.
- Biking from Lake Minnewanka along the lake to warden cabin, on maintained gravel/rocks single track. It is popular for hiking so you will run into some people on the trail. There is a campground at Aylmer Pass junction, about half way. Some cyclists lock up their bikes here and hike the steep trail up to Aylmer lookout, which is around 4km away. Views of the whole Lake Minnewanka from the top are worth the effort.
- Combination of both, which ends up around 50 km roundtrip. This was our favourite way to spend the day on a bike. It is great as a day trip, ending with barbeque at Lake Minnewanka, Cascade ponds on the way back or by the Bow River in Banff at the end.
!! Beware that this is a bear country. Carrying a bear spray and making noise while riding along the lake is strongly recommended.
The trail along Lake Minnewanka is closed for bikers from July 10 to September 15 every year due to an increased bear activity.
Ride to see the town of Banff from above
15 km roundtrip (intermediate)
Mount Norquay is a small ski resort, just few minutes outside the town. The road with many switchbacks can be ridden any time of the year. As it leads to ski resort, it is going uphill all the time. But the beautiful view of Banff can be seen from about half way up.
Biking the scenic road and hiking to the waterfalls
50 km roundtrip (intermediate) + hiking to the falls (1,2 km one way to Lower Falls; 2,7 km to Upper Falls or 6 km to Inkpots)
Johnston Canyon is west from Banff, towards Lake Louise. Biking on the path gets you out of town, around Vermillion Lakes and onto a Bow Valley Parkway. It is a popular road among cyclists.
Cars passing by are usually going slowly as people are looking outside for wildlife. Every time we drove or rode this road, we saw elks or goats.
Banff is a little town and can get very busy, especially during summer. Biking any trail mentioned above is a quick getaway if you get tired of the full streets or attractions. Just remember to be careful when you encounter any wildlife and give them some time and space to move off the road.
Enjoy the ride!
Would you go biking around Banff? Which trail do you like?
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