XC Ski Trails in Banff National Park

Region in Alberta, Canada

Banff National Park is one of the great cross-country skiing destinations in North America. With a long season, excellent trail system and great snow, cross-country skiers love to explore the many trails in Banff National Park when winter comes. Every winter we spend a week split between Banff and Lake Louise where we cross-country ski, snowshoe, and downhill ski. It’s an incredible vacation.

Check out our favourite XC ski trails in Banff National Park. We include gems that take in Lake Louise, Lake Minnewanka, the Bow Valley, and around the town of Banff.

Banff National Park features many scenic cross-country ski trails, some of which are more accessible than others. Our top 10 xc ski trails in Banff include a variety of routes that will take you through snowy forests, open lakeshores, and along stunning winter trails. Cross-country skiing is an excellent way to experience Banff National Park in winter. Note that no dogs are allowed on track-set trails and must be on-leash at all times within the National Park.

THE TOP 10 XC SKIS IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK

  1. Fairview Loop (6.2 km, 50 m, 1-1.5h): This incredible cross-country ski trail starts beside Chateau Lake Louise and has great snow and wonderful views. This ski trail can be combined with Moraine Lake Road to make a longer day out.
  2. Lake Louise Shoreline Loop (4.0 km, 0 m, 0.5-1h): Begin this trail with a stunning wide-open ski across a frozen Lake Louise. We like to return the way we came, but you can also choose a roller-coaster like return through the woods.
  3. Goat Creek to Banff Springs (19.1 km, 178 m, 3-4h): A local’s favourite XC ski trip that starts at the Goat Creek Parking lot above Canmore and follows along the Spray River to Banff. A scenic rest area makes a great place for a snack. No stopping at kilometre 4.5-5 due to avalanche risk.
  4. Great Divide 1A (20.0 km, 140 m, 2.5-4h): The Great Divide XC ski trail gets great snow and is a favourite all season long. Ski along the old Lake Louise highway, passing by the great divide monument and into Yoho National Park on this historic trip. You can start at the Lake O’Hara parking lot or a parking lot just below Lake Louise.
  5. Cascade Valley (15.4 km, 170 m, 3-5h): The Cascade Valley cross-country ski trail takes you into Banff’s backcountry, and can extend as far as the Stoney Bridge. Many skiers stop at Cascade Bridge at 7.2 km and then ski back to the trailhead for a shorter route. You will be skiing through the trees on a broad path on this out-and-back adventure.
  6. Pipestone Loop (13.3 km, 190 m, 2-3h): There are a series of XC ski trails near Lake Louise village, with the Pipestone Loop being one of the best. This ski trail passes alongside the dazzling Pipestone River in a counter-clockwise direction. This trail is usually in great condition.
  7. Chateau to Lake Louise Village on Tramline and Bow River Loop (17.4 km, 360 m, 3-4 h): This route combines two shorter loops (Tramline and Bow River Loop) into a spectacular XC Ski trail in Lake Louise. Start at Chateau Lake Louise and enjoy a fun descent on the Tramline trail to Lake Louise Village. Once there, explore a loop along the Bow River, featuring some stunning scenery, before making your way back up to the Chateau.
  8. Moraine Lake Road (15.6 km, 250 m, 3-5h): Cross-country skiing on Moraine Lake Road near Lake Louise gets you onto some of the best maintained cross-country ski trails in Banff National Park. The route gains steadily over the track-set road offering extensive views of the Bow Valley throughout. You don’t actually reach Moraine Lake in winter due to avalanche risk.
  9. Redearth Creek (20.0 km, 325 m, 5h): This multi-use forested trail sees a lot of fat-bike use, and is the primary route to access Shadow Lake Lodge. Avalanche paths pose a threat on the trail, so be aware, and no stopping in runout zones.
  10. Tunnel Mountain (4.7 km, 29 m, 1-1.5 h): Quite simply the best place to learn to cross-country ski in Banff National Park. Almost perfectly flat, groomed trails lead through the Tunnel Mountain campground, allowing beginners to practice their technique.

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Best XC Ski Trails in Banff National Park

Open details for Fairview Loop

Fairview Loop

Easy
6.2 km
50 m
1-1.5h

The Fairview cross-country ski trail is a stunning XC ski trail near Chateau Lake Louise. It’s also not too busy, as other nearby trails are more popular, however we love the scenery of a cross-country ski trip on Fairview. We often combine this route with a return on the Moraine Lake Road trail.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.3
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Lake Louise Lakeshore

Lake Louise Lakeshore

Very Easy
4.0 km
5 m
1h

Cross-country skiing on Lake Louise is the classic beginner XC ski trail in Banff National Park. This XC route goes over frozen Lake Louise, providing incredible views you can’t easily get in summer. This is also a fun trip to do with headlamps and some hot chocolate at dusk.

User Ratings
No Reviews
Open details for Goat Creek to Banff Springs

Goat Creek to Banff Springs

Hard
19.8 km
178 m
3-5h

Cross-country skiing from the Goat Creek parking lot above Canmore to the Banff Springs Hotel is a classic XC ski in the Canadian Rockies. This ski trail takes in some epic scenery. The first half of the route is infrequently track-set, while the trail improves markedly once you enter Banff National park.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Great Divide 1A

Great Divide 1A

Moderate
20.0 km
140 m
2.5-4h

Cross-country ski through history on the old Lake Louise highway 1A. This ski is very popular with novice skiers, who often don’t complete the whole trail. You’ll pass the Great Divide and continue into British Columbia on this family-friendly out-and-back trip. The Great Divide typically has great snow and the wide road means you get better views than many other cross-country ski trails in Banff National Park.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.5
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Cascade Valley

Cascade Valley

Hard
22.6 km
500 m
3-5h

This sunny, wide trail through the forest is the gateway to Banff’s backcountry. Ski as far as the Cascade Bridge (7.2 km one-way) for an enjoyable tour, or continue to Stoney Bridge near doubling your trip distance (15.4 km). With some wonderful views and a tranquil setting, this is a great day out cross-country skiing.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.0
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Pipestone Loop

Pipestone Loop

Very Easy
13.3 km
251 m
2-3h

The Pipestone area offers a series of xc-ski trails near the Lake Louise Ski Hill. The Pipestone Loop offers great snow and a fun ski, though limited views. This trail features tight turns and hills, making it an exciting, moderate trail in the Lake Louise area.

User Ratings
No Reviews
Open details for Chateau to Village on Tramline and Bow River Trail

Chateau to Village on Tramline and Bow River Trail

Moderate
17.4 km
360 m
3-4h

This wonderful trail combines two classic cross-country ski trails in Lake Louise. Starting with the Tramline at Chateau Lake Louise it descends to Lake Louise Village where it connects with the Bow River Trail, which explores both banks of the Bow River. We love doing this as a return trip, though you could do it as a 1-way trip starting at either Chateau Lake Louise or Lake Louise Village.

User Ratings
No Reviews
Open details for Moraine Lake Road

Moraine Lake Road

Easy
18.4 km
275 m
3-4h

A morning spent cross-country skiing along the Moraine Lake Road is a must-do route in the Canadian Rockies. This XC-ski trail is usually kept in the best condition in Banff National Park, with regular track-setting and great snow conditions. While it doesn’t descend down to Moraine Lake, it is still a great day out skiing.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Redearth Creek

Redearth Creek

Very Hard
26.3 km
428 m
3-4h

This multi-use forested trail is a pleasant cross-country ski, and you can go all the way to Shadow Lake Lodge. This trail sees a lot of fat-bike use and doesn’t see as much track-setting as other trails, but it is still a very pleasant intermediate ski. Many avalanche paths pose threats to the trail so be aware, and do not stop in runout zones.

User Ratings
No Reviews
Open details for Tunnel Mountain

Tunnel Mountain

Very Easy
4.7 km
29 m
1-1.5

Cross-country skiing at Tunnel Mountain is perhaps the best place to learn to cross-country ski in Banff National Park. These trails are track-set and flat, allowing a skier to confidently learn to ski, with great views of surrounding mountains.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.

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