Biking in the Mountains
Fun, Healthy and Inexpensive!
Biking is really an activity that a person of any age or interest can do. You don't have to be an avid mountain biker to take advantage of this activity. Many people choose to go sightseeing on a bike rather than walking.
Whether you are in Banff, Jasper, or in the Kananaskis, there are places where bicycles can be rented by the hour or by the day.
Let's throw around a few ideas:
Cave and Basin - Sundance Canyon: If you are interested in going to visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, you could ride in from downtown Banff, go over the bridge and enjoy the forested trail on your right all the way to the Cave and Basin. From here, there is the Sundance Canyon Trail (paved with benches along the Bow River with incredible views to the north of the surrounding mountains) which takes you to a picnic area. From here you can lock up your bikes and go on a little hike up to the Sundance Canyon (approx. 20 minutes). The ride is about 4.3 km one way.
Vermilion Lakes: This is a nice 5-km (3 mi) bike ride (one-way) on a paved road which takes you from the outskirts of the Banff townsite to the pretty wetlands west of Banff. Enjoy such wildlife as birds and elk and admire beautiful Mt Rundle in the distance.
Tunnel Mountain Loop: Considered the backroad to Banff (I like to use this one myself sometimes), Tunnel Mountain Drive is perfect for biking. This is about a 15 km loop which begins at the east end of Buffalo Street and takes you onto Tunnel Mountain Drive. Spectacular views of the Fairmont Banff Springs and Bow Falls can be seen at what is known at "Surprise Corner" (watch for oncoming traffic - don't want to be "surprised" by that!). Tunnel Mountain Drive joins up with Tunnel Mountain Road, which you follow westward (left) back to the downtown core. Along the way you can experience the many pretty sites, including the Tunnel Mountain Hoodoos, ancient glacial deposits which are slowly eroding away. This is recommended for ice-free months only! Tunnel Mountain Drive is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter months.
Golf Course Drive: This 15 km loop is nice and very scenic. It begins at the little bridge over the Spray River by Bow Falls. The route takes you past the Farimont Banff Springs Golf Course and around a loop and back again. It is very common to see elk here in the summer. You can get some great photographs of the Bow River and Cascade along this road. This road is closed in the winter months.
Lake Minnewanka Loop: This ride is a bit longer with a distance of about 25-km (15-mi). From Banff bike north on Banff Ave towards Mt. Cascade. Cross underneath the Trans Canada Highway and from there follow the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road. This will take you past the former coal-mining townsite of Bankhead (interpretive signs) and onto Lake Minnewanka. Here you will want to stop to take a few pictures and have a picnic. Perhaps you will want to go on a boat cruise or even rent a boat. Continue riding and cross the dam where you just might encounter some of the locals - the big horn sheep - who frequent the area on a regular basis! Go on to picturesque Two Jack Lake and take enjoy the view. If time permits, I would then take a break at Johnson's Lake, a popular swimming hole for locals. Take the side road and follow the signs. (Although this lake too is cold - it is considered one of a few lakes that are actually warm enough to swim in.) Continue on back to the town of Banff.
LOOKING FOR PLACES TO RENT A BIKE?
Backtrax Bike Rentals
The Ski Stop
Banff Adventures Unlimited
Banff Springs Ski & Mountain Sports
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