Great Divide 1A

Banff
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Great Divide 1A

Distance: 20.0km
Elevation: 140m
Time: 2.5-4h

Difficulty Rating:

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.

Getting there

From Lake Louise village, drive up towards Lake Louise, passing the Moraine Lake Road along the way. Soon after, look for signs on your right for the Great Divide parking lot. You can park in this parking lot, and find the trailhead kiosk to begin your tour. You can also park at the Lake O’Hara parking lot and ski this route in the reverse direction.

About

When to do

Mid-November to April

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Trailhead

Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Avalanche Risk

Simple

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back

Type of XC Route

Double Track-set


Elevation


Detailed Description

Cross-country skiing on the Great Divide trail, near Lake Louise, is a great pleasure, especially for novice skiers. There are usually great conditions, gentle grades and pleasant views from the track-set trail, which is an out-of-commission highway.

The Great Divide XC-ski trail never feels overly steep. This gentle grade, combined with the wide trail, means it is great for families or beginner skiers. So don’t feel compelled to ski the entire trail, you can stop part-way if the total distance is too long.

You can start at either the Great Divide Parking Lot near Lake Louise or the Lake O’Hara parking lot. The best views are near the Lake O’Hara section of this ski, but that is also where the most ascent and descent is as well, as you quickly start to ascend from the parking lot.

We usually ski this route from the Great Divide parking lot, near Chateau Lake Louise, as it saves about 15 minutes of driving each way. From the Great Divide parking lot, you mostly descend for 10.0km, ending up in the Lake O’Hara parking lot, before returning.

Along the way, you take in the historic Great Divide monument before skiing over the border into British Columbia and into Yoho National Park.

For those looking to cut their trip in half by skiing one-way, you can arrange to leave another car at the Lake O’Hara parking lot to shuttle you back to Lake Louise.

Insider Hints

  • Start early to see the dogs and dogsleds at the Great Divide parking lot. The noise the dogs make is incredible in the morning, but by the time you return. You can book a (highly recommended) tour with Kingmik Dog Sled Tours.

  • Pick-up your pre-ski snacks at Laggan’s Mountain Bakery in Lake Louise Village.

  • Check out Bill Peyto’s Café at the HI Lake Louise Hostel for a hearty lunch after skiing.

  • Just up the hill from the Great Divide Parking Lot is Deer Lodge, an historic mountain lodge. Stop in for lunch at the Mount Fairview Dining Room and bask in the history of this lodge.

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