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Mountain biking in Banff and Lake Louise

Published Date
Jul 18, 2017
Mountain Biking, Tunnel Mountain, Banff National Park

Mountain biking in Banff and Lake Louise is a great way to get off the beaten track and experience your very own two-wheeled adventure. From fun and flowing single track, to river-side cruisers, there is something to challenge even a seasoned rider. Banff National Park has trails for everyone. No matter how hard you want to work, you will be rewarded with stunning views and a unique, immersive perspective of the surrounding peaks, lakes and rivers. While Banff may not be a mountain bike mecca, the riding here will certainly give you something to write home about and more than a few photos to take with you.


If you are in the town of Banff there are several shops and rental suppliers you can visit around Banff Ave. and Bear Street to get everything you need to head out on the trails. Banff Soul, Snowtips-Bactrax, Ultimate Sports, Chateau Mountain Sports, and Banff Adventures all have fleets of rental bikes and helmets to get you and your friends riding together. In the village of Lake Louise, you can stop in at Wilson Mountain Sports for all your rental requirements. On top of all the equipment, the shops can provide you with some local’s knowledge to get you on the right trails that are in the best condition or the best place to grab a post-ride beverage.

Mountain Biking, Tunnel Mountain, Banff National ParkMountain Biking, Tunnel Mountain, Banff National ParkMountain Biking, Tunnel Mountain, Banff National Park

Beginner Trails

If you are new to mountain biking, or just after a casual pedal, check out the Fenland and Spray River Loops in the town of Banff or the Bow River Loop in Lake Louise. These trails provide easy access and plenty of spots to stop and take a breather while you enjoy the views. The Fenland and Bow River Loop will wind you along the water’s edge with little elevation change. The Spray River loop is a mix of fire road and double track that has little climbing as it rolls up and down the slopes of Sulphur and Rundle Mountain with the river winding through the valley below.

Intermediate Trails

For those with some trail experience, head out on the flowing single track around Banff’s Tunnel Mountain or the Pipestone trail in Lake Louise. The “Blue Loop” in Banff is a great place to get your introduction to single track riding or pound out a quick lap with limited elevation change. “The Toe” will provide intermediate riders more of a challenge with more climbing and descents.

Advanced Trails

For more seasoned mountain bikers, there are a few must-ride trails around Banff and Lake Louise that provide stunning views and an unforgettable experience. The Moraine Lake Highline will wind you through the subalpine and can be ridden as an out and back from the access road, or combined with Ross Lake to stretch the legs and lungs.

Lake Minnewanka is an amazing trail that rolls up and down along the shoreline with a few sustained climbs that are not for the faint of heart. The newest trail in Banff, “Topp Notch” has plenty of twisting and turning climbs and descents, and a mix of rock gardens and boardwalks to keep you on your toes.

Mountain Biking, Tunnel Mountain, Banff National ParkMountain Biking, Tunnel Mountain, Banff National ParkMountain Biking, Tunnel Mountain, Banff National Park

Essential Gear

If you’re heading out on the trails be sure to bring ample water, some light snacks, and an extra layer just in case. A multi-tool, spare tube, and pump are always recommended to help you get back in the event of a puncture. Plenty of folks are willing to lend a hand and fix a flat if you have the supplies to get the job done.

Wildlife Safety and Trail Etiquette

Do your part to protect our trails, the animals, and the environment that surrounds them. If you pack it in then you must take it back out with you, even if it’s organic waste. Remain on the marked trails and obey all posted signs and trail closures. Always yield to hikers and horseback riders, and slow down when approaching others.

Bear and other animal encounters are also important to be aware of. Always carry bear spray and it is recommended to ride in groups for safety. Keep your eyes peeled and make lots of noise so that you do not surprise a bear or other animals.

For the latest trail conditions, please check with Parks Canada.

John Smits

John Smits

John is an avid mountain biker and a coach with Rundle Mountain Cycling Club. His passion for teaching snowboarding led him to the Bow Valley over 10 years ago. Coaching mountain biking in the summer and teaching snowboarding in the winter allows John to share his love of the mountains year round.