Canmore, Alberta might be famous as the location of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games at the Canmore Nordic Centre, but it's also the go to place for cycling—recreational and hardcore. Whether you're looking for easy cruiser style rides, or technical single track challenges, the Bow Valley will provide cyclists of all ages and levels the perfect opportunity to get out and about on two wheels.
Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail
For cyclists that are interested in cycling to Banff without using the highway, the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail offers the ideal scenic and traffic free route between the two towns. Starting at the Travel Alberta Canmore Visitor Information Centre on the Bow Valley Trail at the western edge of the town, there is plenty of vehicle parking so you can offload your bike and join the start of the trail. The paved trail heads west to the Banff National Park gates, and runs parallel to the TransCanada Highway for approximately 22 kms to the Banff townsite.
The Gear Up Sports bike rental location is also only a few minutes ride from the trailhead; turn left out of our car park and cycle approximately 10 minutes west along the Bow Valley Trail which has a cycle shoulder.
Halfway between Canmore and Banff the Valley View scenic picnic area with benches and restrooms makes an ideal stop to enjoy views over the picturesque valley and Rundle Mountain range.
Cyclists who only want to cycle one way can use the ROAM public transit bus between Banff and Canmore for the return journey, the bus comes equipped with a multi-bike rack on front.
The trail doesn't just end at Banff, a short ride through the town and the trail can be rejoined on the Vermilion Lakes Drive just past The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre located on Mount Norquay Road. At the end of the lakes road the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail resumes as a traffic free trail until it reaches the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A). Hardy cyclists can then head along the scenic parkway passing Johnston Canyon and Castle Junction, both providing a good place to stop for food and drink on the way to Lake Louise.
Didn't bring a bike and want to try out the breathtaking Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail? Our Legacy Trail bike is perfect to rent for a leisurely ride along the trail, or we offer full suspension mountain bike rentals. All rentals include a bike helmet, and for the little two-wheeled adventurer not quite up to a solo ride we offer trail-a-bike or burley trailer options.
Mountain Biking at the Canmore Nordic Centre
Mountain biking adventures await at the Canmore Nordic Centre with some of the best off-road cycling in the Canadian Rockies. During the summer the centre offers over 100 kms of mountain biking trails from wide double track non-technical to advanced single track. During the winter fat bikes are allowed on specifically designated fat biking trails; cyclists and cross-country or skate skiers share the world class facility.
If you're just looking for a lazy day on the bike with scenic views and not too much exertion then the trails along the Bow River offer the perfect diversion for a couple of hours. Pack up a lunch and head along the unpaved trails until you find the perfectly positioned seat upon which to spend a little time relaxing and enjoying the view.
A paved/gravel cycle route runs alongside the Bow River out to the Three Sisters Mountain Village. Wide and undulating it offers great views, and also a memorable ride past the location of Coal Mine #2 (now sealed shut) and the pungent sulphur smelling pond from water flowing out of the abandoned mine.
The Bow Valley is also criss-crossed with trails of differing levels. If you want to gain some altitude there are trails that will enable you to do just that. Look out for routes such as Highline Trail, Riders of Rohan, Reclaimer, and Horseshoe Slabs for a little heart pumping adrenalin, or Lowline (a.k.a. Loki's), Powerline, and the High Rockies Trail for a good workout without the scream factor.
Goat Creek Trail - Closed for 2022
The Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail isn't the only route to Banff from Canmore. The Goat Creek Trail offers an off-road experience with a wide gentle grade. The trailhead is located on the Smith Dorrien Highway/Spray Lakes Road. Head past the Canmore Nordic Centre and follow the paved road to where it turns to gravel at the Grassi Lakes turnoff, continue up the twisty unpaved road until the Goat Creek parking lot is reached next to the Ha Ling trailhead. If you're cycling in the Canmore to Banff direction the trail is mostly downhill all the way.