Lake Louise skiing on the Fairview and Tramline trails is an incredible way to spend a day, especially because in this part of the world snow comes early and stays late, there’s lots of it and the backdrop is world-class Rocky Mountain scenery. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
At last count there are at least 17 cross-country ski trails in the Lake Louise corridor. They range in difficulty from novice all the way through to advanced. The Fairview and Tramline Trails are two of the easier and most accessible ones – as you start from the parking lot at Lake Louise.
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Shop: If you’re looking for more ideas on where to cross-country ski in Alberta I highly recommend the book Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies.
Cross-country skiing the Fairview Trail
The Fairview Trail is actually a 7.5 kilometre 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 metres.
It shouldn’t take you more than two hours to ski 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.
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 the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
A combo route that includes the Tramline Trail
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 kilometre loop. We skied down about half a kilometre, crossed a road and then continued for another half a kilometre 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 kilometres. It’s a pretty quick trip down – less than an hour but it took us 1.5 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 kilometres.
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.
Further reading on outdoor activities in Alberta in winter
- The Hike to Johnston Canyon in Winter
- Banff Area Cross Country Skiing: The Cascade Fire Road
- The Easy Hogarth Lakes Loop Snowshoe Trail
- Skiing in Kananaskis: Ribbon Creek to Skogan Pass
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