Panorama of Cascade Valley XC ski trail in Banff National Park, Alberta
Panorama of Cascade Valley XC ski trail in Banff National Park, Alberta

Cascade Valley XC Ski Trail

Banff National Park
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Cascade Valley XC Ski Trail

Distance: 14.0mi
Elevation: 1,640ft
Time: 3-5h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

This sunny, wide trail through the forest is the gateway to Banff’s backcountry. Ski as far as the Cascade Bridge (4.5mi one-way) for an enjoyable tour, or continue to Stoney Bridge near doubling your trip distance (9.6mi). With some wonderful views and a tranquil setting, this is a great day out cross-country skiing.

Cascade Valley XC Ski Trail Map

Getting there

From Banff, head out of town on Banff Avenue, passing the blocks of hotels. Cross over the TransCanada Highway and follow the road until the winter barrier, where you go right onto Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive. This will take you to the Lake Minnewanka Day Use Area parking lot.

I’ve done this 5 people have done this
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About

When to do

Mid-November to April

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Lake Minnewanka

Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Avalanche Risk

Simple

Family friendly

Older Children only

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Out and back

Type of XC Route

Double Track-set


Cascade Valley
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Cascade Valley

The cross-country ski in the Cascade Valley is a wonderful day out in Banff National Park. The farther you go the fewer skiers you’ll find. Many skiers come to only ski part of the route, however this is a great route for experienced skiers looking for a long trail in nature.

Unfortunately, the Cascade Valley isn’t a great cross-country ski for beginners, as you almost immediately ascend 328ft on a steep path, and descending it can be difficult for novice skiers.

From the Lake Minnewanka Day Use Area parking lot, turn right and walk down to the barrier. From here you can ski a short distance down Lake Minnewanka Drive until you see signs for route 6 and the Cascade Valley, where the trail heads off to the right.

The trail descends a bit more before you embark on a steep uphill, which gains over 328ft in elevation very quickly. This part of the trail is usually fairly busy.

Once you’ve completed this initial ascent, you can enjoy a pleasant XC-ski along the sunny Cascade Fire Road. This is a broad road you are following. If it has been recently track-set, you can expect a quick and exciting cross-country ski through the historic Cascade Valley.

Take in views as you gain more elevation before descending to the Cascade River Bridge, which is at 4.5mi. The views as you cross over the bridge are one of the highlights of this cross-country ski trip.

For many, the Cascade River Bridge is the turn-around point on this ski. If you have the energy, we urge you to continue an additional 5.1mi to the Stoney Bridge, as the views on this next stage of the ski are wonderful, however this makes for a lengthy and more difficult day.

This moderate xc-ski trail is a great way to spend the day close to Banff Townsite while taking in some superb viewpoints along the way.

Insider Hints

  • Combine this cross-country ski with exploring Lake Minnewanka. You can walk along the edge of Lake Minnewanka towards Stewart Canyon, a fine, short walk with exceptional Rockies views. You can snowshoe or walk with cleats 0.9mi along the Minnewanka Lakeshore to Stewart Canyon for a multi-sport adventure.

  • This XC-ski doesn’t seem to get track set as often as other cross-country ski trails in Banff National Park, so check the trail report to make sure there has been a recent track set.

Comments

Lisa B 2 years ago

I love when you go XC skiing in Cascade Valley you have two destinations so you can have a short or long depending on how its going.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
1 Comment

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