My family loves exploring on our bikes and we’ve discovered many fun trails to ride around Kananaskis and Canmore, some paved, and others perfect for beginner mountain biking. Below are our favorite trails and areas to bike from Calgary as a day trip or while camping near the city.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Paved Bike Trail, Kananaskis
The paved Lodgepole, Wheeler, and Lakeside trails can be ridden in a 12km outing one way. The trails have gradual hills that can always be walked if riding with young children and the steepest hills are well signed.
For a shorter ride, jump on the Wheeler Trail at the Boulton Creek Campground and ride one way (mostly downhill) to the Canyon Campground with a second vehicle waiting by the playground in the B loop. You can also send an adult back for the vehicle while the kids play. For a fun post-biking treat, stop by the Boulton Creek Trading Post for ice cream.
Troll Falls, Kananaskis Village
Most people hike this short easy trail, but we have found it to be an amazing beginner family mountain bike ride with a scenic ride through Hay Meadow by the Kananaskis River, and a great destination to a set of waterfalls. The trails are all wide double-track ski trails with gentle hills.
Families will want to park at the Stoney Trailhead and approach the falls via Hay Meadow. Park your bikes for the final 0.3km hike to the falls. From the falls, bike back via the Troll Falls trail for easy coasting most of the way back to the car. Total loop distance is less than 4km and is manageable with a chariot or bike trailer. It is also a great trip for younger children on balance bikes.
To add on to your ride, lock your bikes up before Troll Falls and carry on by foot to visit the Upper Falls in a short 1km return hike. Children will also enjoy stopping at Kananaskis Village after for ice cream and a visit to the playground.
The Bill Milne Trail, Kananaskis Village
This paved trail connects Kananaskis Village with Wedge Pond further down the highway in a total distance of 9.7km one way. Start at the Kovach Day Use Area below the village to avoid the big hill down to the highway. Return trip distance is 17km from Kovach Day Use Area to Wedge Pond and back.
The trail climbs very gradually the entire distance from the Kovach Day Use Area to Wedge Pond with one big hill that can be walked near the pond. Consider setting up a shuttle with younger children so that they only have to ride one way in the downhill direction from Wedge Pond. Stop at the village after for ice cream and a visit at the playground.
Watridge Lake, Spray Lake Provincial Park, Kananaskis
This easy mountain bike trail has been a family favorite of ours since my son used to ride it on his balance bike at the age of four. The ride to Watridge Lake is a 7.5km round trip from the Mount Shark Trailhead off the Smith Dorrien Trail out of Canmore. You’ll be riding on a wide gravel road with a few rough sections and a couple of steep hills. The trail is manageable with a chariot or bike trailer.
From Watridge Lake, lock up your bikes and hike up to the Karst Spring where you can see water shoot out of a hole in the rock. Complete round trip distance with the hike is 9km. After finishing your bike ride, consider stopping in at nearby Mount Engadine Lodge for afternoon tea and goodies. We like to play in the meadow while there and have found frogs in the creek below the lodge. It’s recommended that you call ahead if planning to stop in at the lodge to check for availability.
The High Rockies Trail from the Kananaskis Suspension Bridge to the Lower Kananaskis Lake
For a short intermediate mountain bike trail that’s a lot of fun, park beside the trail to the Blackshale Suspension Bridge on the Spray Lakes Road just north of the Kananaskis Lakes. You can find the location of the bridge on the All Trails website/app or on Google Maps. Park along the side of the highway and climb up 50 metres (pushing your bikes if you have to) to reach the bridge.
From the bridge it is a fun, flowy 4km downhill ride to the Peninsula Day Use Area on a relatively wide singletrack trail. I suggest having a second vehicle parked at the bottom or send one adult back uphill to get the vehicle while a second adult hangs out by the lake with the kids. And if you drive home via the lakes, a detour to the Boulton Creek Trading Post can be made for ice cream.
The Canmore Town Trail Network
There are over 15km of easy trails starting from the downtown area of Canmore that can be hiked or biked. Personally, we prefer to bike them because we can link the trails together to take us all the way from the town skate park to the bike park, restaurants downtown, and to numerous playgrounds.
Millennium Park is a good starting point where you’ll find a large parking lot along with a bike park and dirt pump track. From Millennium Park, we like biking to the West Canmore Playground, which is directly opposite the park on the other side of the river. (Just follow the pathway west to the bridge, cross the river, and then head back east to reach the playground.) From the playground you can continue biking on the Three Sisters Pathway towards a beautiful meadow and historic mine site. A ride from the playground to the Three Sisters Mountain Village is about a 10km return.
Alternately, from Millennium Park, bike west without crossing the river until you come to Engine Bridge. Cross the river here and return on the other side for a beautiful 2km easy loop. We also like parking at the town skate park located on 8 Avenue beside the Canmore Collegiate High School. From here, you can access the easy trail network that follows the Bow River towards downtown.
The Canmore trails are mostly wide dirt/gravel paths with a few paved sections. All trails are relatively flat. They are great with a Chariot or bike trailer and very doable by youngsters on balance bikes.
Canmore Nordic Centre Bike Trails
Banff Trail is an easy 6km round trip ride to a beautiful meadow from the Canmore Nordic Centre Day Lodge. You’ll be riding on a wide cross-country ski trail that parallels the paved Roller Skiing trail and aside from a few gentle hills, it is a great ride for young children. We first rode this trail with our child on a balance bike when he was four years old and had few difficulties. We enjoyed a lovely picnic in the meadow and then headed to Canmore for ice cream. Banff Trail is manageable with a chariot or bike trailer.
Single track mountain bike trails also depart from the day lodge for those wanting more excitement, and the green “get in, get out” loop is only 2km in distance. From here, try the Baby Beluga blue loop as an add on for an extra 700 metres. There is also a fun mountain bike skills park at the Nordic Centre with progression options for all abilities of riders.
Note that there are no trail fees in place at the Nordic Centre in the summer so you can bike on any trail you want without paying for a day pass. There are also bike rentals available at the Trail Sports Centre on site and you can rent a Chariot as well.
Safety notes when biking in Kananaskis
Please remember that you will be biking through bear country and possibly sharing the trails with wildlife (even on the town trails in Canmore). Check trail reports before heading out, stop in at a Visitor Centre for the latest updates, and consider staying off trails with wildlife warnings.
Other things you can do to stay safe: Bring bear spray with you, make lots of noise when riding (especially beside creeks and rivers or around blind corners), and travel in a tight group with children in the middle between adult riders.
Tanya is a freelance writer, and mom to a spunky seven-year-old. She loves hiking, camping, skiing and all things mountain-related. She is the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, rockiesfamilyadventures.com.
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