This sunny, wide trail through the forest is the gateway to Banff’s backcountry. Ski as far as the Cascade Bridge (7.2km one-way) for an enjoyable tour, or continue to Stoney Bridge near doubling your trip distance (15.4km). With some wonderful views and a tranquil setting, this is a great day out cross-country skiing.
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.
|When to do|
Mid-November to April
Yes - On Leash
Older Children only
Out and back
|Type of XC Route|
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 100m 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 100m 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 7.2km. 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 8.2km 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.
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 1.5km 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.
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