Pipestone Loop XC Ski Trail

Banff National Park
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Pipestone Loop XC Ski Trail

Distance: 13.3km
Elevation: 251m
Time: 2-3h

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The Pipestone area offers a series of xc-ski trails near the Lake Louise Ski Hill. The Pipestone Loop offers great snow and a fun ski, though limited views. This trail features tight turns and hills, making it an exciting, moderate trail in the Lake Louise area.

Pipestone Loop XC Ski Trail Map

Getting there

Take the Trans-Canada highway westbound past the exit for the Lake Louise Village. You will see a sign that reads Pipestone on your right. Take the turnoff and follow the road as it curves to the left. Take your 2nd right, which quickly goes right again into a parking lot.

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When to do

Mid-November to April

Backcountry Campsites




Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Avalanche Risk


Family friendly

Older Children only

Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type


Type of XC Route

Double Track-set

Pipestone Loop
Elevation Graph

Route Description for Pipestone Loop XC Ski Trail

The Pipestone Loop is one of several cross-country ski trails you can access from this parking lot. Pipestone is signed as blue route number 20 on all signs on this ski. You will see signs for easier routes: 21 Hector, 22 Drummond, and 23 Merlin.

This area has regular track-setting as well as very good snow for most of the year. It’s a popular place to ski as there are green and blue ski trails, so expect to see a lot of other cross-country skiers, on weekends at least.

Join the Pipestone trail from the trailhead and trend right to begin in a counter-clockwise direction. All junctions are well signed and marked.

The route rises at the start as you approach the Pipestone River. Come to a junction at 1.9km and you may choose to take a 0.4km detour to Mud Lake. This is an easy side trip to a small frozen lake. Continue along route 20 by taking a right at the junction upon your return, soon cross-country skiing along the left side of the Pipestone River.

Follow the Pipestone River as you begin to loop back around trending left where you will meet route 23, which is the easier route back to the trailhead called Merlin. On our map we take a route back using Merlin, as the remaining Pipestone track was in poor conditions. We prefer to stay on the Pipestone Loop, where you will pass Pipestone Pond, and meet back up with the green run, Drummond. We think the best views on this XC ski are along the shores of Pipestone Pond.

From Pipestone Pond, you can either take the steeper Pipestone route back or else take the green Hector route. The Hector route is more forgiving, and best suited to beginners. Along the way, you will have some wonderful views peak out on your right, across the valley to the peaks surrounding Lake Louise.

Insider Hints

  • Stop in at Laggan’s Mountain Bakery in the Lake Louise Village before your ski for a hot beverage and a snack.

  • On a clear day, make your way up to famous Lake Louise for some sightseeing.


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