Mountain Biking Trails in Banff National Park
Banff National Park is most known for its world-renowned sightseeing and unforgettable landmarks. Tourists flock to the park annually to see the natural wonders for themselves, and what better way to do so than by bike?
The sublime scenery that makes up Canada’s first national park are easily explored by bike, and Banff’s best mountain biking trails are almost all accessible right from town. Travel along rivers, past stunning lakes, wildflower meadows, and enjoy exhilarating descents on Banff’s mountain biking trails.
Some of Banff’s best trails are accessible as early as May and stay rideable all the way into October some years. The seasons in the Canadian Rockies are ever-changing, however, with the variety of trails in the park, there is always something ready to ride. Committed cyclists even take to the trails on fat bikes during the harsh Banff winter.
Banff is an excellent destination for family-friendly cycling and is host to many easy to moderate trails that are perfect for sightseeing. If you aren’t an avid cyclist and need to rent a bike to explore on, there are plenty of options in downtown Banff and the Lake Louise village.
If you’re ready to pump through rolling terrain alongside rivers, lakes, and wildflowers, watch for wildlife, enjoy exhilarating descents, and push through ascending switchbacks, we’ve got some bucket list worthy adventure trails for you. Our top biking trails in Banff will have you packing up your bike and hitting the road in no time.
The Top 9 Mountain Biking Trails in Banff
Banff is a bustling place, and many of the sightseeing stop and hiking trails see extreme amounts of visitors. Exploring by bike is one of our best kept secrets when visiting Banff. Don’t worry, there are no intimidating bike parks, or athletes in full downhill gear around here, and that might just be what keeps the trails quiet. The bike trails in Banff range from smooth pavement, to rolling terrain, and fun cross-country circuits. The trails here are perfect for beginner and intermediate bikers looking to avoid crowds and see what the park has to offer.
There are plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing, sightseeing, and even picnicking along Banff’s best biking trails. Check out our top nine to find what works best for you and your crew!
- Sundance Canyon: This trail is one of Banff’s greatest family-friendly biking trails. The paved path leaves from the Cave and Basin National Historic site and travels along the marshes near the Bow River. Enjoy great bird watching opportunities as you make your way along the paved trail to the picnic area for lunch. After an incline, set your bikes down and explore the short hiking loop through Sundance Canyon before returning.
- Hoodoos Trail: The Hoodoos trail is a hiking and biking trail that sees a great variety of scenery while creating the perfect loop to explore town and trails. This moderate trail passes by the must-see Surprise Corner before descending down to the Bow River. It follows the river before climbing up to the stunning Hoodoos viewpoint that is equipped with interpretive signage. Return to town on paved roads to finish this fun circuit.
- Shadow Lake Trail: The trail to Shadow Lake is straightforward and follows an old road for most of the way. The trail ascends on a steady and gradual incline until reaching a junction at Red Earth Creek. At this point, bikes are no longer permitted on the trail and adventurers must hike the last 2.2mi to reach Shadow Lake itself.
- Ross Lake: This is a beautiful bike circuit that takes riders to a rarely visited area of Lake Louise. It starts at the world-famous Lake Louise, and quickly escapes crowds by heading west on a lovely trail. You’ll cross the great divide and enter British Columbia on your way to the quaint Ross Lake before returning to your starting point.
- Goat Creek Trail: Bike from Canmore to Banff with the whole family. This trail requires a shuttle or two vehicles but makes for a gratifying day out. The trail is mostly flat and downhill when travelling from Canmore into Banff. There is a great rest area roughly halfway equipped with benches and a trail sign. This is a great option for groups and families.
- Topp Notch Trail: The descent of Topp Notch is an exhilarating ride that is packed with berms, switchbacks, and wooden features. Some warm up on Star Wars before making their way to Topp Notch. This is an intermediate to advanced descent reserved for those with great bike handling skills. Pair this with other trails in the Tunnel Bench area for a full day out.
- Star Wars Loop: This loop is made up of two trails, starting with a descent of Star Wars and returning by ascending Return of the Jedi. These trails are part of the Tunnel Bench system and are some of Banff’s most popular circuits. Close to town and other trails, Star Wars loop is a fun option for intermediate riders confident with somewhat technical descents.
- Spray Loop: This loop leaves right from the town of Banff and is perfect for adventurers who aren’t super experienced. The trail is ideal for all abilities and makes a wonderful loop around the Spray River from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Take in the river and the roaring Bow Falls on this half-day adventure.
- Stoney Lookout Trail: This short and sweet trail is an easy route that takes riders high above Banff without tonnes of effort. The trail follows a forested path to a rewarding lookout over the town. The views here are quite incredible considering you won’t have to work too hard for it. You’ll have to make your way up to Mount Norquay Ski Area to access the trailhead, unless you are willing to ride the winding switchbacks of Mount Norquay Road.
When is the Best Time to Bike in Banff
The Rockies are home to some of the longest winters in the country and Banff is no stranger to a long winter. The summers in Banff National Park are usually reliable between June and September, however snow melt, excessive rain, and early snow can all be huge factors in the length of the summer season.
Many locals take to the trails on fat bikes year-round, and studded mountain bike tires are another option when travelling on hard pack snowy trails. It is possible to ride some of these trails May through October, but that depends on the season. Checking trail reports regularly can ensure your trip to Banff is worth it. Many of the trails closer to town will see an earlier melt such as the Sundance Canyon trail or the Spray Loop. Be prepared to encounter snow and ice early season, or just wait until mid-June.
Other Activities in Banff
Biking might be one of the least recognized activities in Banff. Nearby regions are home to chairlift accessed bike parks, technical cross-country trails, and extreme trail features. This limits the amounts of cyclists in the Banff region, causing it to slip under the radar a bit in the biking world. Banff is world-renowned for hiking, sightseeing, and wildlife viewing. It is the heart of the Canadian Rockies and the birthplace of our National Parks system. The activities are endless, and the park ensures that trails are accessible and maintained. We suggest checking out our favourite hiking trails in Banff if you are planning a longer visit. There are extensive opportunities for backpacking, sightseeing, road biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, paddling, and scrambling in the area as well.
How to Plan a Trip to Banff
If you are planning a trip to Banff, be sure to check out our activities page to find the best trails for you Banff is one of our premier destinations and we have comprehensive guides to planning your next trip to Canada’s first National Park. Don’t worry about the research, we’ve done it all, and we are here to share it with you!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the ride from Canmore to Banff?
The paved legacy trail is a 16.2mi commuter trail from downtown Canmore to Downtown Banff. If you are looking for a mountain bike trail, the 12.4mi Goat Creek trail is our favourite!
When is the best time to visit Banff?
If you are looking to visit Banff, you will want to visit in July or August. These are the busiest months, but the most reliable for good weather and clear trails. June and September are great options but may see some rogue rain and snowstorms.
What is Banff known for?
Banff is known for its extensive opportunities for outdoor activities. It has many prominent peaks, glaciers, and alpine lakes that are world-famous for sightseeing. It has a rich history of mountain culture and exploration and is the birthplace of Canadian National Parks.
The best Mountain Biking Trails in Banff National Park
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