My summer travels of 2023 took me to Canmore — not for the mountain biking but rather for hiking in and around Banff that my girlfriend wanted to do. Of course, the bike was with me, so while I was here for 10 days, I wasn’t going to not ride. Fortunately I got in many good rides. Here’s what you should know if you’re considering riding in Canmore.
There’s Way More Good Mountain Biking Here Than Trailforks Shows You.
Ok, so this puts me in a conundrum. When you look at Canmore on trail forks it looks kind of bland. Yea there’s some black diamond lines, but nothing that looks enticing in the pictures.
Once I started getting on the trails, and talking to a few people, I found a whole different world.
I can tell you that there are tons of unsanctioned trails, that are heavily ridden, and are VERY good. Out of respect for the local area I won’t say where at, or how to find them. You’ll just have to get out there and uncover them yourself.
The Nordic Center Has Some Fun Trails
If you look at Trailforks on a map, you’ll see a web of trails around The Nordic Center. The trails here are good for a fun time, but not really a spicy time. While there are a few black diamond trails in the area, they’re really short, so no need bring your heavy duty bike or gear here
The trails I remember here are…
Odyssey, which is a fun blue flow trail.
Long Road To Ruin, also a blue trail that is rolling. I find it most fun heading north away from the Nordic Center.
Top Gun, a black flow trail with a few small jumps. You carry a lot of speed with tight corners.
These trails are easily accessible from town, and there is a water fountain inside the Nordic Center building. If water is a concern, do check Nordic Center Hours as the fountain is literally inside the building. Apparently there is no outside fountain.
Highline & Cloudline Trail Is A Good Out & Back
On the western side mountain slope of town you’ll find the Highline trail which can be accessed riding from town. It is extended by the Cloudline trail. On the map these trail don’t look like much but over 14 miles (in total out & back), there is about 3,000′ of elevation gain, so your lungs will be working. Expect a rolling riding with ups and downs, so you’re never in a steady state of Cardio.
I Used The Bicycle Cafe (shop).
While I was in Canmore my girlfriend was eager to do some hiking, so I figured I’d use this down time off the bike to get my chain, cassette and chainring replaced; along with the my seat post cable & housing. Getting it done while on the road and trying to ride everyday is always tricky because you never know how long a shop is going to take. This shop was able to do it next day, which was appreciated, and they had all around good vibes… unlike most of the shops you run into in whistler that have the ‘I’m a bike shop in Whistler attitude’
The Only Actual Mountain Biking In Banff National Park…
is the Moraine Lake Highline Trail (trailforks). As the name implies it takes you to Moraine lake.
Accessing the trail is done from the park and ride lot of Lake Louise. From there you’ll have about 3.5 miles of road riding to catch the trail. Once you get on the singletrack you have about 6 miles and 1,100′ of elevation gain until you reach the lake. The trail does descend on the way in, so you’ll have some climbing back out. Once you reach Moraine lake there are concessions and many opportunities for photos on the lake.
Would I Come Back To Mountain Bike in Canmore?
Um probably not. I wouldn’t make Canmore a destination. The fact that the good riding is ‘unsanctioned’ and hard to find here makes it hard call a destination. If you’re considering going to Banff and can swing a couple days of riding, bring a bike and cover some miles in the Highline and Nordic Center area, and ask for some trail recommendations if you cross paths with any non-spandex wearing mountain bikers (lol), and you might get put on the good stuff.