Where to cross country ski if you’re in the Banff area? How about the easy Cascade Fire Road? You’d think it was the Christmas season with the number of cross country skiers out on the Cascade Fire Road yesterday. Or perhaps it was just the perfect combination of safe driving conditions, blue skies, sunshine and great snow that packed the parking lot to overflowing.
Whatever it was we joined the throngs of skiers for a great day out in the Banff area mountains.
The Cascade Fire Road is exactly that – a fire road from the Lake Minnewanka parking lot that doubles as a track set cross country ski trail in the winter. It gets great early season snow and it’s one of the first in the area to be track set.
The Cascade Fire Road is an easy cross country ski unless you elect to ski out and back to the warden’s cabin – and that’s 15 kilometres up the road one way. Then you’ve got a long day on your hands. Otherwise there is only one major hill near the beginning of the trail but it’s gradual and swiftly dispatched. The rest of the trail is either flat or offers gently rolling hills.
The trail is skied by both regular cross country skiers and those on skate skies. There were one heck of a lot of fit bodies that blew by me yesterday.
On the access road to the trailhead you almost always spot wildlife. Yesterday was no exception. We saw elk and big horned sheep going in and coming out.
The Cascade Fire Road is a wonderful trail. It offers occasional mountain and meadow views plus easy entrance to the back-country. The trailhead is accessed via the Lake Minnewanka Road. And it’s perfect for an hour or a day – because it’s an out and back ski you can turn around at any time.
Getting to the Cascade Fire Road Trailhead
To reach the Lake Minnewanka Road drive east from Banff under the Trans-Canada Highway. Then it’s about 10 kilometres up a winding road where I would consider snow tires a necessity. Parking and skiing are free but you do need a Parks Canada pass to be in Banff National Park. It’s $9.80 per adult though you can buy a family pass good for a year for $136.40 – and that gets you into 27 National Parks and 77 National Historic Sites.
You might also like:
- A Fine Day of Cross Country Skiing in Peter Lougheed Park
- Snowshoeing to the Inkpots in Banff National Park
- Skiing to Skoki Lodge via Boulder and Deception Passes