Banff XC Skiing
XC skiing routes in Banff
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 ten 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, ALBERTA
#1. Fairview Loop (6.2km, 50m, 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 (4.0km, 0m, 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 (19.1km, 178m, 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 (20.0km, 140m, 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 (15.4km, 170m, 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 7.2km 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 (13.3km, 190m, 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 (17.4km, 360m, 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 (15.6km, 250m, 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 (20.0km, 325m, 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 (4.7km, 29m, 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.Read More
The best XC skiing routes in Banff
This wonderful trail combines two classic cross-country ski trails in Lake Louise. Starting with the Tramline at Chateau Lake Louise… Read More
Are we missing your favourite XC skiing route?
Tell us! If you've got photos, a GPS track and know the XC skiing route, we'd love to share your favourite XC skiing route with the rest of the 10Adventures community.