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Cross Country Skiing

Paul Zizka

Cross Country Skiing

You glide silently on freshly-made tracks alongside trees laden with snow, their branches bowing under its weight. Pausing for a breath, the wind picks up suddenly, breaking the stillness and dusting you with snowflakes. The snow is lit up by the sun, creating a sparkling path before you. Rounding a bend, the forest opens up to a breathtaking view of a frozen lake and snow covered peaks. Cross country skiing offers a special combination of pure, serene wilderness and energizing outdoor discovery.

Cross country skiing is a great way to explore Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies during the winter months. A vast network of classic and skate skiing trails provides plenty of options for all fitness levels. Banff, Lake Louise and Castle Junction trails are track-set and groomed regularly, giving you the choice of leisurely loops or more demanding routes. Pack a lunch, grab your gear and choose your ideal trail.

With icons such as Mount Assiniboine — Canada’s Matterhorn — punctuating the view... cross-country trails braid the grounds where elk wander uninhibited...Leslie Anthony, Canadian Geographic

Banff

There are many classic cross country trails around the town of Banff, ranging from easy to moderate. Some have single or double track-sets and may also offer a skate skiing lane. Venture through dense forest to the Brewster Creek Junction, enjoy pleasant rolling terrain in the Cascade Valley, and go night skiing under the stars at the Tunnel Mountain Campground Trailer Court. It’s track-set and lit from dusk until dawn.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise has a large number of spectacularly scenic trails from novice to advanced, with single or double track-settings and skate lanes. Climb steadily up picturesque Moraine Lake Road, ski across frozen Lake Louise, or explore old pioneer log cabins.

Spray River Loop is number 5 on “Quick Trip to Banff. Five ways to get rollin’ in the Rockies - without going downhill". Susan Nerberg, enRoute

Bow Valley Parkway

There are four trails along the Bow Valley Parkway, a spectacularly scenic winding road that connects Banff and Lake Louise. Take the Castle Lookout to Protection Mountain trail to see the original auto-route through Banff National Park or climb gradually through lodgepole pine forests to the Shadow Lake trail from the Redearth Creek trail.

Lessons and Rentals

If you are new to the sport, lessons are available from certified instructors who will have you gliding along in no time. Intermediate to advanced skiers may also want to brush up on their technique with a group or private lesson. If you don’t have your own gear, there are many options for rental equipment in the area.

Trail and safety information

Read more about planning and tips for a fun and safe cross country outing. 

For current information on trail conditions, see the Parks Canada website. You should also be aware of the avalanche risk on many trails.