April 18, 2015
Set the stroller aside and get yourself a bike trailer because biking in Banff National Park is one of the best ways to explore the area with a bambino. A variety of paved routes leave straight from the Town of Banff, making them easy to access and smooth to ride on if you’re towing a baby behind you. These routes are all chosen based on their proximity to the town and their relatively low contact with cars and road traffic. With these routes there’s no need to worry how you’ll make your way around with your precious cargo. So, get out there, enjoy some exercise and take in the awesome views while your kiddo hitches a ride.
1. Bow River/Bow Falls Trails
2 km one-way These quiet trails meander along the stunning blue waters of the Bow River and offer superb views of Mt. Rundle, Mt. Norquay, Sulphur Mountain and Cascade Mountain. The final portion along the Bow Falls Trail is tucked somewhat in the trees, but offers easy access to the riverside on foot if you’re keen to catch better views. Bike access ends where the thundering falls begin. Access/Route: Entry points are located near the canoe docks on Bow Avenue, at Banff Central Park and at Muskrat Street near the pedestrian bridge. We recommend you connect the two trails: start at the canoe docks and bike towards the Bow River bridge, passing under it and onward to the pedestrian bridge. Go to the other side of the river and head left towards the base of the stairs at Bow Falls.
Vermilion Lakes Road and Mt. Rundle. Photo-Meghan J. Ward collection.
2. Vermilion Lakes Road
4.3 km one-way from start of road This stunningly scenic road has plenty of space and a speed limit of 30 km/hour, making it a stress-free biking experience even though you’re sharing with vehicles. Along it you’ll enjoy the open vistas of Vermilion Lakes, where a vast array of birds and other wildlife make their homes, as well as great views of the saw-toothed summit, Mt. Rundle. Docks on each of the lakes provide the perfect spot for a picnic lunch. Access/Route: This road is located near the Mt. Norquay Road exit to Banff. There is a trail all the way there, which you can pick up at the end of Bow Avenue near the canoe docks (at the end of the Bow River Trail). You’ll come back the same way, so bike as far as you like and turn around.
3. Sundance Canyon
3.9 km one-way from Cave and Basin National Historic Site The trail to Sundance Canyon offers cyclists a quiet, scenic route along the Bow River, with spectacular mountain views of Banff’s Sawback Range. It is paved all the way to Sundance Canyon, which is well worth exploring by foot (bike racks are provided at the end of the trail). This bike trail offers quite a lot of uphill challenge on the way there, especially if you are towing a trailer. The good news is you’ll have a pedal-free ride almost all the way back. Access/Route: Make your way out to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site at the end of Cave Avenue, and pick up the trail past the buildings. Come back the same way.
Start of the trail to Sundance Canyon at Cave & Basin National Historic Site. Photo-Meghan J. Ward collection.
4. Cascade Ponds
3.4 km one-way from East end of Banff Avenue Cascade Ponds offers great views and a wide-open area where you can let your little one run around. It’s the perfect destination for a picnic and playtime, so pick a nice day and plan on spending a few hours out there before making your way back to town. For your convenience, at the ponds you’ll also find fire pits, picnic tables and toilets. Access/Route: Take Banff Avenue out of town towards the Lake Minnewanka Road, and join up with the Banff Legacy Trail on the right hand side of the road. The underpass connecting this trail to Cascade Ponds is still under construction. In the meantime, cyclists need to get on the shoulder of the road where it exits to Canmore, continue under the overpass and link up with Lake Minnewanka Road. You’ll see the sign for Cascade Ponds on the right hand side. A side trail allows you to avoid the texas gate at the entrance to the Lake Minnewanka Road.
Cascade Ponds. Photo-Meghan J. Ward collection
5. Banff Legacy Trail
14.8 km one-way from East end of Banff Avenue to Banff Park East Gate The Banff Legacy Trail, built in honour of Banff National Park’s 125th anniversary, actually stretches 22.5 km, but this portion of it is the most baby friendly near the Town of Banff. This paved route lets you get some serious riding time in (or for as long as your baby will let you). Enjoy beautiful views of Cascade Mountain and Mt. Rundle as you make your way towards Canmore. The covered picnic area at Valleyview is a great place to stop for a rest and a bite to eat, or to use as your turnaround point. Access/Route: Take Banff Avenue out of town towards the Lake Minnewanka Road, and join up with the Banff Legacy Trail on the right hand side of the road just outside of town. Go as far as you like down the trail and come back the way you went. For More Information: Check out Biking in Banff National Park for more information on mountain and road biking, including interactive maps and bike rental options. Looking to rent a bike trailer for your baby? Ask at Ultimate Sports at 206 Banff Avenue.