- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
The bike ride up the Norquay Scenic Road is a wonderful route, providing great views on a challenging road made up of repetitive switchbacks. This is a great training ride and also a nice ride to pair with one of Banff’s other bike rides.
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Route Description for Norquay Road
The Norquay Fire road gains 350 m of elevation over the 5.7 km ascent! That’s an average gradient of over 6%! This is not a walk in the park, so this bike ride is typically done on road bikes with fit riders. Many riders use this as a training ride for climbing or pair it with another bike ride in the Banff area.
The hardest part of this bike ride could be finding parking if you’re not staying in Banff. We usually get there early and park in the parkade near Nester’s Market, at 122 Bear Street. This is right in central Banff and also allows us to pick up last minute snacks before we head out. Other parking options can be found on the Banff parking site. The Fenlands parking lot is another great option, and is out by the road up to Norquay.
If you’re at Nester’s, go right on Lynx Street and you’ll pass Banff Park Lodge and a Petro Canada and Shell Gas Station. Continue straight, following this road, as it becomes Mount Norquay Road.
Soon after passing Fenlands Recreation Centre, you’ll see a road on your left; this is the wonderful Vermilion Lakes Road, and a great additional bike ride to cool down after you’ve climbed up Norquay. For now, continue straight ahead, and soon come to a wildlife gate. Some people may ride over these, but we sure don’t. We get off our bike and either walk along a seam or better yet cross the road and use the pedestrian gate on the other side of the road.
Once over this wildlife gate, cross over the Trans-Canada Highway and continue straight, soon coming to another wildlife gate. Dismount, cross the road and use the pedestrian gate.
Mount your bike, and begin to climb. The road is about to steepen! The road initially curves to the right, before curving back to the left and rising.
Follow the road up these consecutive switchbacks, using each corner to take in the valley below. The views on this bike ride stack up quickly, offering great perspective on the Bow Valley, however the vital pit stop on the ride is around the 3rd switchback. This is the famous Norquay Viewpoint, or the grass patch to locals. You’ll be able to catch an incredible view of bustling Banff under Mount Rundle from the Parks Canada Red Chairs—a photo opportunity not to miss. Don’t forget to #sharethechair.
The switchbacks are behind you from here on, yet you’ll continue to ascend the 40 m over the next 850 m to the base of the Norquay Ski Hill. Here at Norquay there are some wonderful summer activities, such as the Via Ferrata, access to hiking trails, and the sightseeing chairlift to the Cliffhouse Bistro. Views can be accomplished only by hopping on the chairlift, so if you are planning to give your wallet a break, you’ll head down the way you came.
The descent is fast and technical, be mindful of vehicle traffic whose drivers may be distracted by the views. This is the place for defensive bike riding, and not reliving dreams of the Tour de France.
At the bottom remember that you’ll need to take the pedestrian gates to get around the wildlife gates in the road. Consider adding the easy bike ride along Vermilion Lakes to this ride for a bit more distance.
Insider Hints for Norquay Road
- Watch out for bad drivers on the descent!
- We like to pair this bike ride with an easy spin along Vermilion Lakes Road.
Getting to the Norquay Road Trailhead
You can start anywhere in Banff. We usually start on Banff Ave. in summer parking can be hard to find, so arrive early. There is overflow parking at Fenlands, out on the way to Norquay.
Norquay Road Elevation Graph
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Norquay Road Reviews
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