Balanced on two wheels, the force of your own feet propels you forward as you bend the air around you.
The wind combs through the wisps of your hair poking out from below your helmet, the trees blur as you whip past, and whatever allures you—the thrill of the ride or a pint at the finish line—beckons you onward.
This is what it is like to park your car and explore Banff and Lake Louise by bicycle or e-bike.
Does a full day of exploring and not waiting in the car sound too good to be true? What about if you add in some scenery and a basket filled with fresh-out-of-the-oven rolls and deserts for a picnic? Dreams really do come true but to make it happen, you’ll want to travel by bicycle.
Banff is easier to get around on a bike rather than a car since there are plenty of paved trail systems and only a few main arteries for vehicles.
So grab your bike, pick up the fixings for a picnic at a local bakery or café in town and enjoy a leisurely cycle on the Fenland Trail towards Vermillion Lakes. Find a little more seclusion, and perhaps an opportunity to see some elk early in the morning, when you cycle the Banff Springs Golf Club loop.
Voted some of the most scenic roads in the world, Banff and Lake Louise views will not disappoint—and you can actually enjoy them on an open-air bike ride.
Clip into your pedals and warm up with a quick trip to Canmore on the Legacy Trail (22.3 km one way). Should that be enough for one day, hop on the Roam bus for a ride back to Banff; just be prepared that there might not be enough room for bicycles and you may need to pedal back. Private transfers can also be arranged when you book with a tour guide like White Mountain Adventures.
Ready to really get your kilometres in? Take the Bow Valley Parkway from Castle Junction to Johnston Canyon (12.8 km return) for a shorter trip, from Banff Train Station Public Parking to Johnston Canyon (49 km return) for a longer trip, or go all the way to Lake Louise (114.8 km return) for a true test of your long-distance stamina!
If you're lacking confidence or just lazy, but still want this experience, try an e-bike. You'll be leading the pack and breezing up the hills but without the huffing and puffing.
Parks Canada has made your trip easier by closing the eastern section of the Bow Valley Parkway, from Fireside day-use area to Castle Junction, to vehicles. They’ve done the same for the Minnewanka Loop from May 1 - 20 between Monday - Thursday, meaning there are more car-free routes to explore in 2021!
However, if these suggestions have you laughing and these trips seem more like a simple warm-up—you may be ready to sink your teeth into something a little more hardcore. If so, book a guided trip with Banff Cycle to do a multi-day ride up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper (287 km one way).
Should the scenery not be appealing enough and you’re looking for a little more oomph—specifically elevation—get your heart pumping with some off-road (but on-trail) mountain biking.
In Lake Louise, take a leisurely ride on the Bow River Loop or find your flow on a more demanding trail like Pipestone, Ross Lake, or Moraine Lake Highline—just keep an eye out for grizzlies who feed on nearby buffalo berries.
If you need a confidence boost or want to improve your skills in mountain biking, reach out to Bikescape. They provide the perfect opportunity for most ages and abilities to get out there, ride safely, and have fun.
Rent a townie, e-bike, road bike, or mountain bike from one of these outfitters:
- Banff Soul
- Snowtips Bactrax in Banff
- Ultimate Sports in Banff
- SkiBig3 Adventure Hub in Banff
- Banff Adventures
- Banff Cycle
- Chateau Mountain Sports in Lake Louise
- Wilson Mountain Sports in Lake Louise
Tours and Programs
If you're not sure about riding on your own or want to improve your skills, check out these options: