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Biking In Canmore, Alberta’s Friendly Mountain Town

Biking in Canmore, Alberta’s Friendly Mountain Town

I could live in Canmore, a mountain town located an hour west of Calgary, and only minutes from Banff National Park. It’s truly an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. What I particularly love about the town is the fact you can walk out your door from just about anywhere in town and within minutes be biking or hiking on some amazing trails.

Biking in Canmore is popular, whether it be mountain biking or road biking. This post details some of the nearby bike roads on roads with a short nod to some mountain biking trails. 

Updated April 2020. This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

biking in Canmore on the Bow River Valley Trails

If you’re looking for an easy, scenic and family friendly bike ride you don’t even need to leave Canmore. Over twenty kilometres of well-marked trails beckon.

Made up of a mix of pavement and gravel, they wiggle through the woods, take you over bridges and meander along the river. At frequent intervals you’ll find a bench where you can sit and ponder the state of the universe. Also look for wildlife. In my case, I saw a number of elk, seemingly just hanging out in the Bow River.

Town of Canmore Riverside Trail
The Riverside Trail in Canmore
You often see elk in Canmore
When you’re biking in Canmore you’ll often see elk 
View of the Bow River from the Canmore Engine Bridge
View of the Bow River from the Canmore Engine Bridge

Cycling the Figure Eight Loop

Locals in the know call it the Figure Eight Loop. Starting in Canmore, head off on the well-used and very lovely Legacy Trail. Follow it for 26 kilometres to reach Banff.

Take a run up Tunnel Mountain (which I didn’t do), and continue on the road to loop past Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka. This section is my favourite. You almost always see bighorn sheep and the area around both lakes is very pretty. (They are both excellent lakes for kayaking.)

Until mid-April, a section of the road is closed to cars, but open to cyclists. Return to the Legacy Trail and cycle back to Canmore.

On the Legacy Trail east of Banff look for a parking lot – and two red chairs. Parks Canada is putting red chairs in various scenic spots in national parks throughout Canada. 

A nice touch that’s been added to the Legacy Trail is a set of bike tools and an air pump. You’ll find them across from the parking lot at Travel Alberta’s Tourist Information Centre in Canmore.

The counter at the start of the Legacy Bike Trail
The counter at the start of the Legacy Bike Trail
Assorted bike repair tools and an air pump with a universal valve at the start of the Legacy Trail
Assorted bike repair tools and an air pump with a universal valve at the start of the Legacy Trail
On the way to Two Jack Lake 
On the way to Two Jack Lake 
Looking back towards Cascade Mountain
Looking back towards Cascade Mountain
Kayakers out on Two Jack Lake
Kayakers out on Two Jack Lake
Bighorn sheep don't seem to mind cyclists or cars
Bighorn sheep don’t seem to mind cyclists or cars
Bighorn sheep strutting right by me
Bighorn sheep strutting right by me
Look for red chairs in Canada's national parks - accessible from the Legacy Trail
Look for red chairs in Canada’s national parks – accessible from the Legacy Trail

Mountain biking in Canmore 

There are loads of trails available to the mountain biker from Canmore all the way through to Banff. Some are easy but many are in the expert category so choose wisely.

Read: 15 Mountain Biking Tips for Beginners 

The Goat Creek Trail

This trail has been at the top of my wish list for far too long. It’s a popular one way, 18 kilometre bike ride along the Goat Creek Trail. It starts at the Goat Creek Trail parking lot, 5.5 kilometres up the Spray Lakes Road from the Canmore Nordic Centre, and finishes by the Banff Springs Hotel. Then you can get a Bike and Hikes Shuttle back to Canmore.

Parking is at a premium on a weekend at the Goat Creek Trailhead as its also the trailhead for Ha Ling Peak
Parking is at a premium on a weekend at the Goat Creek Trailhead as its also the trailhead for Ha Ling Peak

The High Rockies Trail

The High Rockies Trail, the westernmost section of the Trans-Canada Trail in Alberta, also leaves from the Goat Creek Trailhead. Unlike some of the other bike rides, there are numerous access points along its 80 kilometre length, so you can do it in sections. It runs from the Goat Creek trailhead all the way to Elk Pass on the Alberta – British Columbia border.

There aren’t any services to speak of on the trail so go prepared. It runs through bear country so be sure to carry bear spray.

Read: Biking the High Rockies Trail in Kananaskis Country

Truly lovely biking on a mixture of old roads and singletrack
Truly lovely biking on a mixture of old roads and singletrack

Biking in Canmore  – The Canmore Nordic Centre

In the summer the Canmore Nordic Centre,a  five minute drive from downtown Canmore, offers over 100 kilometres of trails for both mountain bikers and runners. You have your choice of easier double-track mountain biking trails or hard, technical, single-track trails.

You can purchase a summer trails map at the day lodge for $2. Onsite you can rent bikes and even get guided tours.

Where to rent bikes in Canmore

Choose from Rebound Cycle or Gear Up in town.

Accommodation in Canmore

There are lots of B&B’s and hotels across all price points in the Canmore area. I stayed at the Grandview Chalet B&B a bike friendly B&B run by a couple who love the outdoors. If you’re looking for a comfortable bed for the night, great hospitality, a delicious breakfast and advice on what to do when it comes to outdoor activities in the area, you’d do well to choose this place.

Other suggestions include the following: 

The Canmore Clubhouse run by the Alpine Club of Canada is an inexpensive option, located 4.5 kilometres out of town. Members pay only $30/night, non-members $40/night.

Another B&B to consider is the Monarch B&B. Enjoy a breakfast cooked by a Japanese chef.

Basecamp Resort offers well-appointed rooms with thoughtful touches including Rocky Mountain soap  and local coffee a fully equipped kitchen and an awesome – shared hot tub. The only downside is there is no personal touch. You get a code so you don’t have to talk to anyone. Prices are reasonable.

The Malcolm Hotel opened in 2019 near downtown Canmore. It’s a four star hotel with an outdoor heated pool.

If you’re looking for a hotel with spas, pools and lots of amenities check out Solara Resort and Spa or the Stoneridge Mountain Resort.

Inside the Grandview Chalet B&B in Canmore
Inside the Grandview Chalet B&B in Canmore

Canmore is an exceptional base for outdoor adventures – no matter what the season.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Bike rides in Canmore, Alberta

Thank you to Travel Alberta for help with this trip. All thoughts and opinions are my own – and I do highly recommend you spend some time in the Canmore area.

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 16 Comments
  1. You got me right away with thee Bow River Valley Trails — perfect for me. I love riding a bike, but I like to keep the terrain pretty flat. Along with awesome scenery, wildlife spotting and starting the day with morning glory muffins — sounds perfect.

  2. You nailed it. Canmore is a great destination for hiking and biking. I like the low line trail in the Three Sisters area and with my daughter, we enjoy the trail from Three Sisters all the way into downtown. Have never heard of that B&B – will have to check it out. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I’m so jealous of the scenery that you have access to in the USA. Absolutely stunning. I love hiking, and the UK has some nice spots to go, but nothing like this.

  4. This is so useful – coming from England I’m always completely overwhelmed by the vastness of the Canadian countryside and the options for hiking and biking and don’t really know where to start. I’ve been meaning to check our Canmore for ages and I’ll be sure to refer to this post when I do!

    1. @Jaillan Staring off in anew place with no idea is a bit over the top. Between Banff and Canmore you have lots of options and they are close enough to Calgary – if that’s where you live, that you can visit repeatedly and keep discovering new activities and adventures.

  5. Typical bighorn sheep – thinking of no one and nothing but themselves! I would love to do the figure 8 loop one day and I think it’s fantastic that there are little air pumps/ “service stations” on route – how cute (and handy!)

  6. Wow, stunning photos Leigh! I would have loved to have witnessed Elk having a drink of Bow River water; we’re big on traveling for the wildlife opportunities and I’ve never seen Elk before! Will have to add Canada to the list!

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