The Best Banff Bike Trails

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, biking in Banff is one of the best things to do come springtime. Between mid-April and October, you’ll often find us on the mountain bike trails or zipping around the park on our gravel bikes. There are fantastic bike rides around the town, exciting trails, and breathtaking scenic routes. If you want to move your legs and get pedaling, we’ll lay out a few of our favorite bike trails.

I’ve broken the best routes and trails into multiple sections for the various kinds of riders who plan to bike in Banff. The first section is for mountain bikers, cyclists on road bikes or gravel bikes, and those who want to enjoy some leisurely bike trails.


Where to Rent A Bike In Banff?

Biking the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road
Biking the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road
  • Banff Cycle: They have a nice fleet of bicycles, ranging from commuter e-bikes to hard-tail mountain bikes and road bikes. This is a great option if you’d like to enjoy some of Banff’s amazing cycle routes.
  • Ultimate Sports Banff has a great selection and range of bikes, including full-suspension mountain bikes, commuter e-bikes, and road bikes.
  • Banff Adventures is a local tour company that rents a fleet of easy-going bikes to tour around Banff for an affordable price.
  • Snowtips Bactrax is one of the largest rental shops in town, offering every bike category. They also rent camping equipment if you need it.
  • SkiBig3 Adventure Hub: In the summer, the Adventure Hub offers e-bike and paddleboard rentals.

Best Banff Mountain Biking Trails

If there is one thing Banff lacks, it’s decent mountain bike trails compared to much of Western Canada. Of course, its location in a national park does hinder the ability to maintain and develop new trails. However, when looking at other mountain towns like Whistler, Nelson, and Rossland, Banff pales in comparison to their offerings.

That being said, there is a decent network of trails worth exploring if you love mountain biking. The area skews towards technical cross-country trails, with a few around Tunnel Mountain offering some downhill flow. We recommend mountain biking in Canmore or Moose Mountain outside Bragg Creek if you’re really into mountain biking.


Star Wars

star wars trail in banff

Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Cross-Country/Downhill | Link: Trailforks

Star Wars is the closest thing to a proper mountain bike trail with some flow in Banff. It’s fast and loose,, with some decent berms and technical features that offer a nice challenge. The most notable features are several drops and a pretty impressive wallride.

It’s a great trail, but the loose track makes it tough to gain too much speed. I wouldn’t advise hardcore mountain bikers to make a trip out of biking this trail, but it’s pretty enjoyable for a town not known for mountain biking. It’s an easy trail to lap as it has an easy climbing trail called “Return of the Jedi” takes you right back to the start. If I’m in Banff on my bike, I usually take a lap or two on this trail.


Topp Notch

Topp Notch Mountain Bike Trail Map in Banff

Difficulty: Expert | Style: Cross-Country/Downhill | Link: Trailforks

This is one of the best Banff bike trails. It’s black and has a little bit of everything to offer bikers. An elevation gain of 299 meters will get your heart pumping a bit. Like Star Wars, it features some excellent technical features and a nice flow.

However, the trail has steeper sections, punchy climbs, berms, exciting woodwork, and technical sections. It has an easy squirrel catcher right at the start, and for a black, this trail is far from hair-raising. That being said, the local trail association did a tremendous job with an interesting trail layout and woodwork.


Upper/Lower Stoney

Upper/Lower Stoney

Difficulty: Intermediate/Expert | Style: Cross-Country/Downhill | Link: Trailforks

The Upper Stoney and Lower Stoney Loop are great little circuits right by the Mt. Norquay Ski Resort. Upper Stoney is a tough climb up to the summit of Stoney Squaw Mountain. It’s a technical, tight, and rough climb with brief moments of exposure and some punchy steep climbs.

After the challenging cardio workout up Upper Stoney, you can enjoy the longest downhill in Banff. It’s fast and flows well with minimal pedaling. Keep an eye out for wildlife and hikers on the descent. Lower Stoney arrives at a wildlife gate and requires a five-minute pedal along the highway back to Mt. Norquay Road.

The big negative aspect of this trail is its access to the start. It starts from the Mt. Norquay parking lot, so it requires a car drop-off or a climb up the Norquay road.


Minnewanka Lakeshore

Minnewanka-Bike-Trail

Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Cross-Country | Link: Trailforks

If you’re looking for a great and long cross-country trail in Banff, follow the rocky route along the side of the largest lake in the park. Initially, it’s a short, strenuous climb, but the course goes up and down along the lakeshore for nearly 30 km. You’ll cross many hikers on the first kilometer or two as they make their way to Stewart Canyon. However, after the bridge, the trail it’s a relatively quiet trail. The views across Lake Minnewanka are stunning, and it’s a great workout.

There is a seasonal closure during the peak summer months (typically between July 10 and September 15), so you’ll have to bike the trail early in the season. It’s popular to do this in the winter with a fat tire bike, and you can bike on certain sections of the lake once it freezes over. Just please be mindful of changing ice conditions, a fall into ice far from the backcountry could be perilous.


Bow Falls/Hoodoos Trail

bow falls

Difficulty: Easy | Style: Cross-Country | Link: Trailforks

The bike out to the Hoodoos Trail is on follows along an easy singletrack trail. It starts at Bow Falls and returns to the second Tunnel Mountain Parking Lot. It’s an easy trail that feels appropriate for all skill levels.

The trail is a wide hiking/mountain biking trail that climbs and descends several easy trails. If you’re not a super confident mountain biker, there are some roots and rocks to contend with, as this is more of a cross-country trail.


Cascade Valley Trail

Cascade Trail

Difficulty: Moderate | Style: Cross-Country | Link: Trailforks

This is a fantastic journey if you’re after a backcountry adventure on a mountain bike. It’s an out-and-back trail that follows an old service road through the Cascade Valley for 15 km one way.

It’s a seldom-visited section of the park, and it’s possible to find no one else on the road. Start at the Upper Bankhead parking area and end at the remote Stoney Creek campground. Since this one is remote, bikers should be prepared for the wilderness and keep an eye for bears as it prime grizzly habitat.


Goat Creek/Spray Valley (Canmore to Banff Bike Trail)

Goat Creek/Spray Valley

Difficulty: Moderate | Style: Cross-Country | Link: Trailforks

If you’re looking to connect Canmore to Banff on something other than the Legacy Trail, this is a great option. This is an old service road that offers a double-track up Goat Creek. It can be done in both directions or as an out-and-back trail from Banff. However, the route up the creek from Banff is a continuous uphill climb, nothing steep, but it does gain a fair amount of elevation.

I’ve found it most enjoyable from the Goat Creek Parking lot off the Smith Dorrien Highway as the route is downhill and ends at the Banff Springs Hotel. It ends at the Banff Springs Hotel, so it’s a great bike ride that is perfect for a post-ride beer at the Waldhaus. Since it’s a bit easier going from Canmore to Banff, we suggest setting up a car shuttle and riding from Canmore to Banff via Goat Creek, and then returning to Canmore on the paved Legacy Trail.


Rundle Riverside

Rundle Riverside

Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult | Style: Cross-Country | Link: Trailforks

Roots, roots, and roots are the game’s name on the Rundle Riverside trail, which connects Canmore and Banff across a 14 km trail. The trail starts at the Canmore Nordic Centre and ends at the Banff Springs Golf Course—of course, it can be done in either direction.

It’s a quiet trail that is seldom traveled and a great way to spend a long day on the bike without any other distractions. However, it’s best reserved for those with a full-suspension mountain bike and some experience in mountain biking. Be prepared with a repair kit, too, as the remoteness could be an issue if you get in trouble. You can link this up with Goat Creek for an epic, tough bike ride around Mount Rundle.


Best Banff Cycling Routes


Moraine Lake Road

Moraine Lake Biking
Biking to Moraine Lake in May

Either the snow melts enough, or Parks plow the road to Moraine Lake every year about a week before it officially opens to vehicles. This happens sometime around the third or fourth week of May. It’s a fantastic bike ride during this window to visit the famous lake without the crowds. The ride up to Moraine Lake is only 13km long and gains around 250 meters. It’s pretty easy for the most part, and you hardly have to pedal the whole ride back.

We recommend this to most visitors to Banff in May who might miss Moraine Lake due to the road closure. eBikes are allowed on this trail, which makes the climb much easier. It’s also possible to ride fat bikes up here in the winter, but you must have proper avalanche knowledge or stop at the end of the cross-country ski track setting so you don’t cross into avy territory.


Bow Valley Parkway

natasha biking the bow valley parkway

The Bow Valley Parkway connects Banff with Lake Louise, and the road takes you past several scenic stops. It’s the best cycle route in Banff and promises a long ride. You’ll cycle past Johnston Canyon, Moose Meadows, Castle Junction, and Morant’s Curve. Plus you’re more or less guaranteed to see wildlife, we’ve seen bears nearly every time we’ve biked the Bow Valley Parkway.

The distance to Lake Louise from Banff is 61 km—that’s if you ride all the way to the lakeshore, which would be a truly epic and challenging day! This makes the 120+ km roundtrip journey a solid Gran Fondo. The route can be shortened in several different ways, starting at Castle Junction or the gates to the Bow Valley Parkway off the TransCanada.

Of course, you can always start at Vermilion Lakes and turn around whenever you like it. The road has seasonal closures to Johnston Canyon, but it only apply to vehicles so this makes it the best time to cycle the road. Keep up to date with closures here.


Legacy Trail

Cameron Stands On The Legacy Trail

Officially, the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail is one of the most popular bike trails and an amazing thing to do in Banff in the Summer. There is much to love about the efforts to make the Bow Valley more bike-friendly. The Legacy Trail is a 26 km long (52km round trip) walking and cycling path connecting the Canmore and Banff towns. It’s a fantastic bike ride on a sunny day or when you want to stretch your legs on the bike.

We regularly ride back and forth between Canmore and Banff as it’s a decently long bike ride that’s good for fitness. If the 50+ km route feels a little long it’s easy enough to use Roam Transit to bike the the trail one direction, this is what we recommend to families.

If biking one direction the easiest route is from Banff to Canmore, as it loses elevation and the winds are typically at your back. That strong wind can also be a brutal headwind on a windy day when biking from Canmore to Banff, so be prepared if it’s your first time cycling! It can also change directions on more than one occasion we’ve had a headwind both directions, just be prepared if it’s a windy day.


Minnewanka Scenic Loop

Lake-Minnewanka-Scenic-Rd-Bike-Ride

We like to add this to our ride along the Legacy Trail as it is easy to connect via an underpass at Cascade Ponds. The road from Banff to Minnewanka is a large scenic loop that passes Cascade Ponds, Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka, and Bankhead. It’s a gorgeous bike ride and a common area to spot wildlife.

However there’s quite a bit of elevation gain on this one, which makes for a long day if you’re connecting it to the Legacy Trail. Make sure you have lots of water and snacks.


Banff Springs Golf Course

Biking in Banff

The old road around the Banff Springs Golf Course makes for an excellent ride. It is relatively car-free and sees little traffic. It also offers incredible views of Mt Rundle and the wonderfully manicured golf course grounds.


Icefields Parkway

Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is arguably one of the most scenic roads globally. Naturally, it would make for a great scenic cycle through the Canadian Rockies. However, in peak summer, the road can see a lot of road traffic, and it’s no small feat to bike the road as it deals with plenty of elevation, weather, and distance.

A full-day ride from Banff to Jasper s a truily epic bike ride that is a notable accomplishment for even the fittest cyclists as it is nearly 300 km with 2,000 meters of elevation gain. We personally haven’t tackled this, but hope to one day. There are campsites along the way to break up the journey.


Highwood Pass

Highwood Pass on Bike During Road Closure

Highwood Pass is the highest highway in Canada, with some astounding views of the front range. Due to the elevation and high snow levels, the road closes in the winter months due to avalanche risk. However, at the start of summer, the snow often melts before the highway’s official opening date. This makes for an excellent cyclist route and a pretty nice challenge if you bike the whole way.

The climb up the pass from King Creek is a category one, one of the steepest climbs on the professional bike circuit. However, it’s possible to bike the pass from either end of the road to the top. The more accessible section would be from Longview, but it does cover a greater distance of 37 km one way. My GPS clocked in the full circuit at 110 km and 1650 meters of elevation gain. It’s a pretty big day, so pack plenty of fuel and water.


Town of Banff Bike Routes

If you plan to visit the sites around Banff, consider renting a bike to get around. Parking and traffic can be a really big pain in the summer months, as tens of thousands of visitors visit the little town every day. Sometimes it’s best to forget the car and pedal around.


Tunnel Mountain Road

Tunnel Mountain Road

Take a scenic ride along the Tunnel Mountain road for a chance to spot some wildlife and catch some stellar views of Rundle Mountain.


Bow Falls

bow falls

Consider a ride out to the Bow Falls for a leisurely bike ride around town. Afterward, continue to the Iconic Banff Spring Hotel, the Banff Gondola, or The Banff Hot Springs.


Cave & Basin

Take a leisurely bike ride to the location that led to the creation of Banff National Park. The historic site is a great stop to learn more about the park’s history.


Vermilion Lakes Rd

Vermilion Lakes Rd

The Vermilion Lakes is one of the most scenic spots close to town. Vermilion Lakes Road is easy road that travels along the edge of the lake and leads to a bike path connecting Downtown Banff with the Bow Valley Parkway.


Mountain Biking Beyond Bow Valley

moose mountain mountain biking
Biking at Moose Mountain
  • Kicking Horse — The local ski resorts in Banff do not offer lift-assisted mountain biking, so you’ll need to head to B.C. to find a bike park. Kicking Horse in Golden is characterized by its significant vertical and steep rocky descents that ride fast. It’s around a two-hour drive away from Banff, so it’s a feasible day trip from Banff for mountain bikers looking to get out on their downhill bikes.
  • Panorama — If you’re after nice flow and jump tracks at a bike park in the region, then Panorama delivers. The ski resort converts into a large bike park in the summer.
  • Moose Mountain — This is a fantastic mountain for flow and great for assisted truck rides up service roads. There are several great downhill runs and some of the best woodwork and features in all of Alberta.

Hope this list of our favorite Banff bike trails helps you determine where to go on your two wheels! If you have any other questions leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.


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Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip, we like to compare camper prices on Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire, which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

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