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The Real Banff / Published: Wed, 02/28/2018 - 12:13

5 Cross-Country Ski Trails In Banff National Park

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A pair of cross-country skis opens a world of opportunity in Banff National Park. Travel down the historic Great Divide or find yourself a piece of solitude in the woods. Regardless of your ability, there are many trails in Banff and Lake Louise that you’ll find to be a perfect fit. 

Visit Parks Canada for the latest trail conditions, as well as the complete list of trails in Banff and Lake Louise. 

1. Cascade Valley - Banff

15.4 km (9.5 mi) one way. 7.2 km from parking area to Cascade River bridge, plus 8.2 km to Stoney Creek bridge.  

Trailhead: Lake Minnewanka parking lot 

Double trackset with skating lane to Cascade River bridge. Single track set with pleasant rolling terrain for the remaining route to Stoney Creek. A sunny trail with good views and a fun downhill return trip. For a short 1.3 km ski, try the trail from Lake Minnewanka day-use area to Upper Bankhead. 

2. Castle Junction Area

9.5 km (5.9 mi.) of trails in area 

Trailhead: Castle Junction on the Bow Valley Parkway (1A) 

A series of interconnected single track set trails that wind through spruce forest. The main trail runs from Castle Junction to Castle Mountain Lookout.   

3. Great Divide or "Old 1A" - Lake Louise

20 km (12.4 km) return, 60 m elevation loss  

Trailhead: Lake Louise Drive 

Double trackset with skating lane

Mostly flat, but trending gently downhill, this trail takes you to the “Great Divide” – the BC / Alberta border. From here, you can continue into Yoho another 3.5 km (grooming irregular) to the Lake O'Hara parking lot. 

4. Moraine Lake Road - Lake Louise 

15.6 km (9.6 mi.) return, 250 m elevation gain 

Trailhead: Lake Louise Drive

Double trackset with skating lane

Climbing steadily, this trail includes both gently rolling and hilly stretches. Tracksetting ends at a viewpoint of Consolation Valley and the Ten Peaks. Warning: Beyond the viewpoint, the road crosses large avalanche paths. Travel beyond this point requires avalanche training and equipment. 

Paul Zizka
    

5. Spray River West Trail - Banff

5.7 km (3.5 mi.) one way from Spray River West trailhead to Spray River bridge West 

Trailhead: Park at Spray River West trailhead, behind Fairmont Banff Springs 

The entire trail is double track set with a skate skiing lane. This trail is a locals’ favourite offering rolling terrain in a picturesque river valley with views of Fairmont Banff Springs. Bring a snack; there is a picnic spot beside the river near the bridge. Avalanche hazard: Infrequent avalanche paths from both Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain cross the Spray River at 4.5 - 5 km from the Spray River trailheads. Do not stop in this area.

Winter rentals

For rentals in Banff, visit Snow-Tips Backtrax or Chateau Mountain Sport. 

For rentals in Lake Louise, visit Wilson’s Mountain Sport or Chateau Mountain Sport. 

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