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Portrait of a girl cross country skiing in Banff and Lake Louise
The Real Banff / Published: Tue, 01/26/2021 - 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. 

Couple Cross Country Skiing in Lake Louise
Devaan Ingraham

1. Cascade Valley - Banff

Distance and elevation: 15.1 km (9.4 mi) one way. 6.3 km from the parking area to Cascade River bridge, plus 9.1 km to Stoney Creek bridge. 250m elevation gain, 85m elevation loss 

Trailhead: Lake Minnewanka parking lot  

Double track set 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

Distance: 9.5 km (5.9 mi.) of trails in the 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.   

Winter Cross Country Skiing Great Divide Trail Lake Louise Noel Hendrickson

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

Distance and elevation: 20 km (12.4 km) return, 60 m elevation loss  

Trailhead: Lake Louise Drive 

This double set track with a skating lane trail, which is mostly flat with some gentle downhill, will take you to the “Great Divide” – the BC / Alberta border. If you are up for it, continue for around another 3.5km (irregular grooms) to the Lake O’Hara parking lot in Yoho National Park.  

4. Moraine Lake Road - Lake Louise 

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

Trailhead: Lake Louise Drive

This trail includes both gently rolling and hilly stretches as it climbs steadily. It is a double track set with a skating lane. If you follow the track set trail, you will make it to a viewpoint of Consolation Valley and Ten Peaks.  

Warning: Travelling beyond the viewpoint requires avalanche training and equipment as the road crosses large avalanche paths.  


5. Spray River West Trail - Banff

Distance and elevation: 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 Snowtips-Bactrax, Ultimate Sports, Banff Adventures or Chateau Mountain Sports. 

For rentals in Lake Louise, visit Wilson Mountain Sports or Alpine Social Rentals (Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise)​.

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Plan Your Stay

Browse and book accommodation and lodging packages with our trip planning tool. To learn about the different types of accommodation available in Banff and Lake Louise, visit our Places to Stay page or Contact Us to speak to a local expert.