Panorama of Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National Park, Alberta
Panorama of Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National Park, Alberta

Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC Ski Trail

Banff National Park
View Photos
Start of Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkMorning views on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkBeginning of Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkSkiing through the trees on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkStunning scenery on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkSnow on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkFresh snow on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkMountain views around Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkBeautiful views on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkThe bridge on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkViews from the bridge on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkScenery on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkViews on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkPanoramic views on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkSkiing through the forest on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkSkiing on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkBeautiful view on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkWinter on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkSnowy peaks along Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkGetting close to Banff on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkTrail along Spray River on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkSpray River Valley on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkEnd of the trail on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National ParkSkiers on Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC ski trail in Banff National Park

Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC Ski Trail

Distance: 12.3mi
Elevation: 584ft
Time: 3-5h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
10 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

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.

Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC Ski Trail Map

Getting there

We usually park at either the Fairmont Banff Springs parking lot after the round-about, or the Bow Falls parking lot and take a taxi to the Goat Creek Parking lot. The taxi is usually $75-$125. The Goat Creek Parking lot is 3.2mi past the Canmore Nordic Centre turnoff on the Smith-Dorrien (Hwy 742).

I’ve done this 7 people have done this
I want to do this 36 want to do this route

About

When to do

December to March

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

No

Pets allowed

No

Avalanche Risk

Simple

Family friendly

Older Children only

Route Signage

Poor

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

One Way

Type of XC Route

Occasionally Track-set


Goat Creek to Banff Springs
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Goat Creek to Banff Springs

When people say they skied from Canmore to Banff, they are usually referring to this cross-country ski, which actually starts at the Goat Creek Parking lot on the Smith-Dorrien.

The hardest part of this xc ski route is figuring out how to plan your shuttle, as it’s a long trip if you go there and back (though there are many cross-country skiers that do the return trip).

We normally leave our cars at the Spray River Trail parking lot (near the Banff Springs Hotel) and get a Taxi to pick us up and take us to the Goat Creek Parking Lot, which is on the Smith-Dorrien above the town of Canmore. The drive takes about 25-30 minutes and taxi fares are usually $75-$125 depending on how many people there are.

We prefer to ski from Goat Creek to Banff as the route has 1394ft of descent and only 574ft of ascent, making it a more pleasant day out.

From the Goat Creek parking lot, the route enters the trees on a clear path. The first 1640ft of the path is often in terrible condition, with footprints as day trippers explore this path before returning to their cars.

If the route has been recently track-set this will be a great day skiing. Unfortunately, the trail is not track-set as often as many other xc ski trails in the area. It also sees a lot of use from snowshoers, hikers and backcountry skiers, who unfortunately often obliterate the XC Ski tracks that have been set. This means it can be a pretty rough trail if it hasn’t been track-set recently.

The trail goes up and down, and is very clear as you ski north along the Goat Creek trail. The early part of the route has fairly easy descents, and can be fun in good conditions. You get very nice views to your right up at the various subpeaks of Mount Rundle.

After about 4.0mi of xc-skiing you will get to a big hill that descends to Goat Creek Bridge. This hill is the crux of the xc ski trip, and can be very, very challenging, especially if the snow is hardpacked. The track goes down and around a bend, and then immediately comes to a bridge over Goat Creek. If it’s hardpacked it’s both very fast and very hard to get any stopping power on your skis. There have been accidents here, and it is recommended that you remove your skis and walk down this path the first time you do this trip.

After the bridge you ski around to your left, eventually crossing another bridge at roughly 5.6mi over the Spray River. Once over the bridge the trail usually improves, as Parks Canada track sets their portion of the route more often than Alberta Parks.

Follow the ski trail as you head up a hump before continuing the path on the western side of the Spray valley.

At roughly 8.4mi from the start come to a picnic area, with a partially covered shelter. From here the trail splits, make sure to stay on the left-hand path signed for xc-skiers. There is a separate path for snowshoers and fat bike users.

Follow this route and in 3.4mi you end up the Spray River parking lot, where you left you car, just down from the Banff Springs Hotel.

Insider Hints

  • Check out recent grooming for this trail before heading out. Other trail users can destroy the track-setting and make this a more challenging ski compared to when it has been recently track-set.

  • Rent Skis at Snowtips-Bactrax on Bear Street or Trail Sports at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

  • Enjoy Coffee and French-inspired pastries at STOCK Food and Drink in the Fairmont lobby before or after your ski.

  • While we use cross-country skis, this trail is often done with Light Touring skis and there are often snowshoers on the trail as well.

  • Treat yourselves to a Swiss fondue at the historic Waldhaus Restaurant on the Fairmont Grounds, just up from Bow Falls. For something more casual grab a beer and a pretzel at the Waldhaus Pub.

Comments

Lisa B 2 years ago

Goat Creek to Banff Springs is such a beautiful winter trail, it makes for a great day out in winter.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
1 Comment

Similar XC Ski Trails to the Goat Creek to Banff Springs XC Ski Trail

Scenery of Redearth Creek XC ski trail in Banff National Park, Alberta

Redearth Creek

Difficulty:
16.3mi
1404ft
3-4h

This multi-use forested trail is a pleasant cross-country ski, and you can go all the way to Shadow Lake Lodge.…

Scenery of Chateau to Village on Tramline and Bow River XC ski trail in Banff National Park, Alberta

Chateau to Village on Tramline and Bow River Trail

Difficulty:
10.8mi
1181ft
3-4h

This wonderful trail combines two classic cross-country ski trails in Lake Louise. Starting with the Tramline at Chateau Lake Louise…

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

Cascade Valley

Difficulty:
14mi
1640ft
3-5h

This sunny, wide trail through the forest is the gateway to Banff’s backcountry. Ski as far as the Cascade Bridge…