Lake Louise Cross Country Skiing: Fairview & Tramline Trails
The Lake Louise area is wonderful for cross country skiing.
The snow comes early and stays late. And there’s lots of it. The backdrop for much of the skiing is world-class Rocky Mountain scenery. It doesn’t get much better than that.
At last count there were at least 17 cross country ski trails in the Lake Louise corridor. They range in difficulty from novice all the way through to advanced. A few days ago we chose to do a loop involving two of the easier trails – the Fairview and Tramline Trails.
Cross country skiing along the Fairview Trail
The Fairview Trail is actually a 7.5 kilometer loop though we didn’t do it as such. It’s a beautiful track-set trail that takes you through the forest but it opens up enough to provide some great views. There are no big climbs – just a series of small ups and downs – enough to make it interesting. The height gain in total is only 50 meters. It shouldn’t take you more than two hours to do it. Start at the far end of the furthest parking lot from Chateau Lake Louise. Look for signs saying Fairview Trail. It’s also called the number 2 trail. Once you’re on it, it’s very well signed and easy to follow.
Cross country skiing along the Fairview Loop
Skiing through the trees with a winter sun poking through
Snow in the shape of an owl – would you agree?
We chose to do part of the Fairview Loop and all of the Tramline Trail. It’s one of the trail combinations that allows you to ski from the lake down to the village. You can ski it in either direction. If you start in the village it’s a treat to have a rest and something to eat at Chateau Lake Louise.
Alternatively do what we did (because we were staying up by the lake).
From Lake Louise we skied the Fairview Loop until it intersected Moraine Lake Road. The road is used as a cross country ski trail in the winter. When you reach Moraine Lake Road turn left and ski down it towards Lake Louise Drive. Just before you reach Lake Louise Drive (which is the name of the main road between the lake and the village) you’ll see a sign for the Tramline Trail. Turn right and follow this trail all the way down to the historic railway station on the other side of the Bow River. There’s parking beside the Bow River should you decide to start down here.
We chose to warm up and get something to eat in Lake Louise Village and so continued along the Bow Trail. The Bow Trail follows the edge of the Bow River and does a seven kilometer loop. We skied down about half a kilometer, crossed a road and then continued for another half a kilometer under the railway bridge and past the Post Hotel. From there you can cross a small bridge over the Pipestone River to end at the Samson Mall. There are a few places here to warm up and get something to eat.
On the return you just retrace your steps – but it’s all uphill going back to Lake Louise. When you get to Moraine Lake Road you can continue on the Tramline Trail if you want the shorter option back. Otherwise you have to ski up Moraine Lake Road to the Fairview Trail and return that way.
All told we did approximately 15 kilometers. It’s a pretty quick trip down – less than an hour but it took us 1½ hours to return from the junction of the Tramline and Bow trails. If you just want to ski the Tramline Trail up and down its 8.8 kilometers.
Signs for the Tramline and Bow River Trails
Ski tracks in the light of a winter afternoon
Looking across to the Lake Louise downhill ski resort
Looking east up the Bow Valley towards Banff
Lake Louise at dusk
We’d had a lazy start to the day so by the time we finished the sun was setting behind the mountains. If we’d had the energy we could have opted to go skating on Lake Louise – but a hot shower and a glass of wine were calling. It had been a great day out on skis.
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Have you done any cross country skiing around Lake Louise? Do you have a favourite trail to recommend?
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