Mountain biking - Lake Minnewanka Trail

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Biking the Lake Minnewanka Trail near Banff

Lake Minnewanka trail is located just outside the town of Banff in Alberta, Canada.

This classic ride with picture postcard scenery,  takes you along the shoreline of Lake Minnewanka in the Canadian Rockies. Lake Minnewanka is very popular with riders and hikers alike, especially in the early season when many of the higher elevation trails are still wet or snow covered.

The trail follows the west shore of the lake in a northerly direction. It’s a rolling single track with few technical sections (by Alberta standards),  few creek crossings, bridges, loose scree, roots and dirt. As you ease into the trail, you are immediately rewarded  by amazing views along the shoreline of this emerald coloured lake.

If you have not done this trail and you enjoy cross country mountain biking  I definitely recommend it.  The trail  is best ridden in the spring or fall and weekdays are best time to ride if you want to avoid heavy traffic. If you must go on the weekend, the the  five  kilometres of lake minnewanka trail have most hiker traffic. If you encounter hikers give them the right-of-way when mountain biking.

Trail Details

Riding Time: 2 – 4 hrs, Elevation Gain: 430 m, Technical Rating: Advanced, Physical Rating: Moderate, Park Pass Required

Few photos from our May 11th, 2013 ride

Fixing a flat tire at the Minnewanka trail head before we even had a chance to ride.


This Rocky Mountain sheep didn’t seem to mind us as we came around the corner.


Piotr just after the bridge. He’s riding my old santa cruz heckler in lime green. I know they still make the heckler. Not sure if it still comes in this hard to miss color.


Alicja testing out a 2011 santa cruz nomad. This bike was a bit of an overkill for this trail. But nevertheless, it sill pedals well uphill if you have strong legs and, it soaks up everything on the downs.


I forgot about the change of seasons when I threw my bern watts carbon helmet into my bike bag. I had to ride with the winter liner inside my helmet, complete with ever-so-toasty ear covers. Too bad it was 27 degrees C that day.

On my Blur 4X

Piotr and Alicja

Crew towards the end of the ride

As with many of the areas in the bow valley, you should be beware of bears. Lake Minnewanka is a popular area for bears so it’s recommended that you ride with bear spray if you are alone and preferably in a larger group. There is an annual summer closure to reduce encounters with bears. Parks Canada closes this popular ride to bikers from July 10 – September 15 yeach year. Hikers can still go in groups of 4+.   Please respect this important closure as Lake Minnewanka is a key area for grizzyl bears in Banff National Park.

What’s your favorite mountain biking spot?

Author: Mike Blarowski

Read more trip reports