The Best Canmore Bike Trails

Mountain biking is one of our favorite activities once the snow melts and the trails thaw. Every season is different, but typically, by the end of April, it’s time to pull the bikes out and hit the trails. Until October, you’ll often find us on the mountain bike trails or zipping around the park on our gravel bikes. We are lucky to have fantastic bike rides, exciting trails, and breathtaking scenic routes around the town.

If you want to move your legs and get pedaling, we’ll lay out a few of our favorite bike trails around Canmore. I’ve broken the best routes and trails into multiple sections for the various kinds of riders who plan to bike in Canmore.

Mountain Biking In Canmore

Tommy Tackles An A Frame On Prospector Trail
Prospector Trail

There aren’t many activities or things we can say are definitively better in Canmore than in Banff. If you want more information, we’ve got a post about the bike rides in Banff. However, mountain biking is objectively better in Canmore. This is due to a strong local scene and organizations taking steps to turn Canmore into a bike destination, or at least one that serves locals well.

Canmore also benefits from being surrounded by provincial lands rather than federal lands. Most trails are maintained by a local organization, the Canmore & Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA). They now have a full-time crew that works on the trails around town in the summer.

cameron riding on fun forest and lokis trail

The local trails are an interesting mix of intermediate single-track trails. They have a cross-country feel with small technical sections that wind over roots and rocks. A few downhill flow and jump trails in the valley continue improving over the years. Canmore is not quite the destination you’ll see in many of the small towns of British Columbia, but we hope that will one day change.

Apologies for the lack of photos. Biking is our way to unwind, but we’ll update the post this summer with better images. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Canmore, and we get out for a ride most evenings after work.

We should note that you will need a Kananaskis Pass to park/drive to the Canmore Nordic Center, Moose Mountain, or any trails off the Smith Dorrien Highway. You can technically drive through, but once you park the vehicle in an AB Parks lot, you will need a pass.

Best Mountain Biking Trails in Canmore

Highline Trail

The View From The Highline Trail In Canmore
The View From The Highline Trail In Canmore

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

Ask every person in the valley about their favorite trail, and you’ll likely get a dozen different answers. My answer would probably be the Highline, but that may be a semi-controversial opinion. For many, it’s a suffer fest up a steep technical climb out of the Bow Valley with little reward in its descent. However, it’s a classic bike trail in the valley and popular with trail riders after some cardio work.

The meat of the trail is a technical ascent with punchy uphill sections that will leave you gasping for air. Once at elevation, the well-maintained singletrack offers some decent flow as it moves up and down the lower slopes of Mount Lawrence Grassi and Ha Ling Peak. It crosses several gullies with great views over the Bow Valley as it moves.

The descent is fast, rocky, and technical, but don’t expect many features or jumps. You can climb the trail in any direction, but I suggest climbing from the Three Sisters Neighborhood and descending to Quarry Lake. We’d rate this as a difficult climb and a moderate descent.


Cameron Sits On A Cloudline Bench
Sitting On the Cloudline Bench

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

One of Canmore’s newest trails is a few pedal strokes away from our front door. It also happens to be one of our favorites in the valley. The trail builders spent several years shaping it, and the result is a wonderful loop that leaves from the Three Sister Neighborhood and follows a similar ascent as the Highline—the two trails can be easily combined.

It’s a more accessible version of the Highline with a machine-made intermediate climb and a nice descent with a few features. As the trail is machine-made, it feels accessible for many biker skill levels. The trail also has tremendous views over the valley from several beautiful custom live-edge benches.

We should note that the trail follows a cliff edge for a couple hundred meters. You may need to push along the edge if you’re afraid of heights or not a confident biker. We wouldn’t note it as exposure, but less confident bikers can rest assured it’s only a short push with great views.

Horseshoe Loop

Mountain Bike On Horsehose Loop With View of Three Sisters

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

The Horseshoe Loop on the sunny side of Canmore is an easy cross-country trail that makes for a fun little loop. The extended route is the most popular option as it has a steep gully, a bit more technical terrain, and some excellent views from a meadow of the Bow Valley.

It’s far from the most exciting mountain biking trail and is largely popular with locals living on Canmore’s sunny side. Regardless, it’s a pleasant loop with amazing views over the Bow Valley and Three Sisters. Overall, it is a quick and easy trail that can be done in an hour and some change. We recommend it to beginners, families, or any group with mixed abilities.

The Odyssey

Meadows at Canmore Nordic Center Mountain Bike

Difficulty: Moderate | Style: Downhill | Link: Trailforks

We can thank the first association of trail builders in the valley for this beauty; Friends of Kananaskis staked out the trails years ago, and it has really aged well. Since then, it has grown into Canmore’s best downhill mountain bike trail.

It’s fast and offers some decent flow with small jump features and nice berms that allow you to carry speed. It’s undoubtedly the most well-made trail in the Bow Valley and is great fun for various skill levels.

The blue-rated run is never too steep in sections but is a solid pitch that even the more experienced riders will enjoy ripping down. If I’m looking for speed, it’s one of my favorite rides in the valley. Plus, the view from the meadows before you access the trail is wonderful!

Loki’s / Fun Forest Fun

Natasha On Fun Forest Fun
On Fun Forest Fun

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

This is an easy connector trail in the Three Sisters Neighborhood. It is a great way to access the Highline or Cloudline trails. It’s a fun little trail with a few small features and can be ridden in either direction. It’s our most ridden trail to access others around town. It’s a good introduction to mountain biking for beginners or fledgling intermediates. The two trails combine nicely with the drop zone between the two trails.


Difficulty: Advanced | Style: Downhill | Link: Trailforks

If you love technical riding, the Powerhouse trail presents an interesting challenge. It’s not the longest trail, but it starts with a small filter feature and doesn’t let up until it’s over. It’s steep and loose, with drops, rocks, and tight jumps. It’s the most exciting way back down to town from the Canmore Nordic Center, I hit it almost every time I bike in the area.


Reclaimer Bike Route

Difficulty: Advanced | Style: Downhill | Link: Trailforks

This is another flow trail that is rated black. It starts steep and loose before it mellows out and turns into a loose-flowing trail that moves through several switchbacks. It’s a decent trail but requires a drop-off on the Smith Dorrien Highway.

It’s possible to bike up the road, but given traffic and the amount of dust, I wouldn’t advise that suffer-fest. I have managed a late evening and early morning jaunt up the road without too much hassle.

Riders of Rohan

Riders Of Rohan Route

Difficulty: Advanced | Style: Downhill | Link: Trailforks

Riders of Rohan is pretty steep and technical towards the top, like Reclaimer. However, as it descends, it gets a little better and mellow, but the rocks get much looser near the bottom. There are some optional drops and big mandatory rolls, but nothing too tricky. The flow opens up as it intersects with the Highline, and you can interchange between either trail as they cross and run parallel.


Natasha With Her Mountain Bike At The Canmore Nordic Centre

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

This classic loop around the Canmore Nordic Center is a nice mix of easy tech and cross-country. A few wood bridges, punchy climbs, and rocky gullies. The trail moves through the forest and eventually opens to a large meadow with an astounding view over the Bow Valley to Cascade. There are a ton of other trails at the Nordic Center that can be conjoined with EKG, such as Killer Bees, Back Door, Nector Noodle, Long Road to Ruin, and FYI.

I love the climb up Back Door to Nector Noodle as it’s one of the most challenging climbs in the valley, and Nector Noodle is a fast little root and rock-filled trail with some rolling terrain. It’s also a great trail to combine with the Odyssey above, probably my most ridden loop at the Nordic Centre.

Top Gun

Difficulty: Expert | Style: Downhill | Link: Trailforks

This is Canmore’s first black-rated jump line, and it’s a really fun trail to lap and work on your skills. It’s an advanced trail, and if the first filter feature at the entrance makes you hesitant, it does not get any easier as the trail progresses. The trail features a few drops, gap jumps, two wall rides, a whale tale, and a rock garden.

The trail builders really did a great job with the trail. It’s all downhill from the Canmore Nordic Center parking lot. The return trail comes up a climbing trail called Orchid that delivers you back to the top. This is a trail that deserves multiple laps.

Soft Yoghurt

Difficulty: Moderate | Style: Downhill | Link: Trailforks

This is Canmore’s first jump trail, and it’s still a great trail that is easy to lap multiple times in a short amount of time. The trail starts close to Top Gun, and they both begin right from the Canmore Nordic Center parking lot. It’s the predecessor to Top Gun, with some great jumps and berms that can be rolled over by beginner and intermediate riders.

It’s short, sweet, and has a really lovely flow. I love the trail, as it’s easy to crank out a few quick laps. The trail can get a little loose as the season progresses, but you can rip down it early in the bike season.


The Rock Slabs Of Prospector Trail Over Exshaw

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

This trail has the feel of a classic old-school mountain bike trail. It has it all: a challenging climb with great switchbacks and a fun descent. I love some sweet wood features and technical riding, as several sections are steep, rocky, and loose.

The trail is best known for the rock slabs at the trail end above the small town of Exshaw. It moves in a large figure eight and is easy to follow. It’s a great trail that we suggest every local rider check out. It’s rated as an advanced trail, which feels like a fair assessment.

Razor’s Edge

Razors Edge Route

Difficulty: Pro-Line | Style: Techincal Downhill | Link: Trailforks

This is about as extreme as it gets in the Bow Valley, and it’s a pro-worthy route with highly technical sections, slabs, ridges, exposure, and steepness. It’s arguably one of the best trails in the area. Any experienced mountain biker will want to give this trail a shot if they’re passing through.

It’s also a challenging climb with about 600 meters of elevation gain to access the entire route. Expect some stellar views of the Bow Valley and hair-raising thrills.

Mountain Biking Beyond the 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.

Canmore to Banff Bike Trails

Goat Creek/Spray Valley

Goat Creek/Spray Valley

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

This old service road offers a double-track up to 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 (where you park for the Ha Ling Trailhead) off the Smith Dorrien Highway, as the route is downhill and ends at the Banff Springs Hotel. It makes for a great fat bike trail in the winter, too! It ends at Banff Springs, so it’s another bike ride perfect for a post-ride beer at the Waldhaus.

Rundle Riverside

Rundle Riverside

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

Roots, roots, and roots are the game’s name on the Rundle Riverside trail that connects Canmore and Banff. 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 for a long day on the bike without any other distractions. You can link this up with Goat Creek for a full loop around Rundle —we’ve done this once, and it was a big day.

Road Cycle Routes Around Canmore

Legacy Trail

Legacy Trail

The Legacy Trail is the best bike trail connecting Canmore to Banff! There is much to love about the efforts to make the Bow Valley more bike-friendly. A paved 26 km long walking and cycling path connects the towns of Canmore and Banff. It’s a fantastic bike ride on a sunny day or when you want to stretch your legs on the bike.

It is a pretty long journey that families can take one way or another. The easiest route is from Banff to Canmore, as it loses elevation and a strong wind is at your back. That strong wind can also be a brutal headwind on a windy day from Canmore to Banff, so be prepared

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 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 covers a greater distance of 37 km.

A true challenge is to bike the full route. We biked it from one to the other and back for a big day in the saddle. 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.

Bow Valley Parkway

natasha biking the bow valley parkway

The Bow Valley Parkway connects Banff with Lake Louise and 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 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. The road has seasonal closures to Johnston Canyon, but they only apply to vehicles, so this makes it the best time to cycle the road. Keep up to date with closures here.

Where To Rent A Bike In Canmore?

Canmore nordic center biking
  • Rebound Cycle: This is a tough shop to miss, as it sits right at the end of the main street in Canmore near The Wood restaurant. They’ve been around for years and offer every bike category, SUPs, and kayaks.
  • Gear Up: Located conveniently along the Legacy Trail, Gear Up offers commuter bikes for biking the trail and exploring town, including e-bikes.
  • Trail Sports: You can rent mountain bikes at the Canmore Nordic Center at Trail Sports. They have full-suspension Rocky Mountain Instinct bikes and offer lessons for improvement.
  • Rundle Mountain Bike Rental: Located on the Legacy Trail and near the Canmore Visitor Center, this company makes renting a bike and exploring the valley easy. They have e-bikes, road bikes, and commuter bikes.
  • Chateau Mountain Sports: has a nice selection of commuter bikes, e-bikes, hardtail mountain bikes, and road bikes. It is convenient to most short-term rental apartments and condos in Canmore.

Getting A Drop Off

The Engine Bridge In Canmore

Several trails, such as the Goat Creek Trail, Riders of Rohan, and Reclaimer, are best done with a drop-off in peak summer. The Smith Dorrien Road is a gravel road that climbs nearly 600 meters out of town and sees a lot of traffic. That traffic kicks up a lot of dust, so unless it’s rained recently, it’s tough to advise biking up the trail outside peak hours.

However, the good news is that the local taxis have vehicles equipped to drop you off at the top of the road. Three Sister’s Taxi has a minivan with a bike rack and a truck with a pad to shuttle guests up the road. Let them know in advance if you plan to use the shuttle service.

About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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