Montane Traverse

Canmore, Alberta, Canada

The Montane Traverse is a classic Canmore x-country ride that takes you from the Cougar Creek parking lot high above the Silver Tip Golf Course and over to Harvie Heights. Physically, this is a demanding ride, as there is a lot of up. However, you are rewarded with sweet technical descents and amazing views of the Rundle Mountain Range.

The trail ends near the Harvie Heights subdivision, with a number of options along the way. For a shorter ride, descend down Johny’s Trail or continue westward and take the Meander Trail down to the valley. All trails end at the Palliser Pathway, which may be ridden back to town. The main Montane Trail ends at the Tibits Quarry Trail which can be taken right into Harvie Heights. The suggested route is down the Tibits Quarry Trail and across the Ridge Traverse over to the Meander Trail, finishing at the Palliser Pathway.

bikepirate rating:

Trail Stats

Distance: 7.7 km
Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hrs
Elevation Gain: 275 m
Elevation Loss: 171 m
Min Elevation: 1,361 m
Max Elevation: 1,553 m
Technical Rating: Intermediate – Advanced
Physical Rating: Moderate
Season: June - October
Permit Required: No

Trail Location

Trailhead: Park at the Cougar Creek parking lot and head up the path along the west side of the creek. The trailhead is marked and is located about 400 metres up from the parking lot on your left. The trail begins by heading into the woods and up the first steep climb.

GPS:
N51 05.182 W115 19.628 (Cougar Parking)
N51 05.404 W115 19.374 (Trailhead)

Downloads

Trail Map (PDF): click here
GPS Map: click here
Google Earth: click here
Trail Report: click here

Google Earth trail view only works if you have the program; download it here (free)

Buy your Canmore trail guide:
Bow Valley Mountain Bike Trail Guide
Montane Traverse

Options

There are several options to explore when riding the Montane Traverse. My favourite option is option 1 described below.

Option 1: Ride Montane Traverse over to Tibits Quarry Trail, across Ridge Traverse and down the last bit of Meander Trail to finish your ride at the Harvie Heights Road. From there you will pedal back along the road. This option takes in the whole Montane Traverse and includes the infamous Microwave Drop – near the end of Montane Traverse.

Option 2: Ride Montane Traverse over to Meander Trail. Descend down Meander Trail and ride back along Harvie Heights Road. The Meander Trail descent is super fun and worth checking out if you’ve never ridden it.

Trails

Meander Trail (2.8 km): This fun singletrack trail descends back down to the road. It’s a great option if you want to mix it up. The trail is super buff, making it a fast ride down.

Tibits Quarry Trail (930 m): This super fun and fast descent either spits you out at Harvie Heights or connects you to the Ridge Traverse (my preference) which takes you over to Meander Trail and out to the carpark located on Harvie Heights Road.

Ridge Traverse Trail (1.4 km): This great little connecting trail puts you on the last bit of Meander Trail, which will take you back down to the Harvie Heights Road.

Johny’s Trail (2.0 km) CLOSED – DAMAGED by floods in 2013: Johny’s Trail is a short trail composed of doubletrack and singletrack. It crosses the dried up creek bed and spits you out at the Cross Zee Ranch near the road. Take this option if you want to shorten your ride; otherwise it’s not worth doing, aside from the neat structure built to get over some fallen trees.

 

 

 
  • Pete Irwin

    P.S Avoid meander! Five large fallen trees along the way made the climb up a #&% ! Going down it would also suck…

  • Pete Irwin

    Rode montane, tidbits, ridge traverse, meander and then back to cougar creek on montane. Montane is sweet and dry! Git er done!

  • Albert Parks

    Cougar Creek Day Use closed, alternate access via Silver Tip required when looking to park. Google map link (https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/51.0859349,-115.3270986/51.0960147,-115.3280234/@51.0931682,-115.3306529,1854m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m4!4m3!1m0!1m0!3e0?hl=en) showing the drive from the Cougar Creek Trailhead, to approximate parking area to access Montane Traverse; a small access path will take you to the trail.

  • Doc

    Rode Montane Traverse today (may 21st) from Cougar to Meander – trail is dry & good to ride, however…….Jonny’s is un-rideable still (I’d say nothing has been done since the floods). Also Meander has quite a few trees down on it, especially in what looks like the fun stuff on the top half. I’d say there are trees down in 6-10 spots across the trail. Sticking to the traverse to Tidbits quary trail would be the best bet. Cheers!

    • http://www.bikepirate.com Peter Oprsal

      Thanks for the detailed update Doc. I’ll pass on the downed trees info to Alberta Parks. Hopefully they can get out and clear them soon.

  • Jason Wannamaker

    Rode montane on Sunday. From Cougar Creek Parking lot its clear to Johnny’s Trail Junction. Its hard packed with very few slightly tacky sections. If your not enduro enough and don’t like getting your shorts speckled with a tiny bit of mud you should stop here. Continuing on there starts to be short packed snow sections which are ridable and melting quick. They a short and disappear further west where the trail dries up again. No major mud bogs associated with the melt, nor are there any sections you could damage by riding.

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  • Alistair Jones

    Here is some photo updates. We rode Montane Traverse from Cougar Creek out to the tower and back along the road from Harvie Heights. The approach from Cougar Creek can be ridden from the road, though it’s a little bumpy. Mind the heavy equipment working in the area. The trail is still easy to find but you can’t bike up to it, must dismount and climb up. The trail otherwise is in fine shape, the creek crossings seen in the photos are the first and second ones. The second can’t be ridden, there is just too much debris. Though it is an easy hike. The view from up there is still spectacular. Johnny’s Trail for the most part is gone. It’s just like riding through a washed out creek bed for long sections and I wouldn’t bother venturing down it.

  • Local bike rider

    Johnny’s trail is a FULL wash out!!!!!! We had to hike out our bikes for close to a hour down the flood wash out! Super Bad the the trail should be closed it is a true Hazard!

    • http://www.bikepirate.com Peter Oprsal

      Agreed and that is why we’ve closed it some time ago above. Not sure why Parks has kept it open as it’s not worth riding. The rest of Montane and connectors are good to go.

  • Pete Irwin

    Here are the photos of Ridge Traverse and Johny’s Trail.

  • Pete I

    Rode Montane today from the west end near Tidbits. Large washout at the first creek crossing. It requires a downclimb to get to the creekbed (unrideable). Same story at the next creek. Decided to ride down Johnny’s trail (bad idea!) It is gone! Just a meter and a half deep trench and creekbed where the trail used to be. Somehow we found a trail on the opposite side of Johnny’s which took us to the silver tip golf course. Made our way to the west end of montane. It was good to Meander trail. Meander has a lot of damage but is rideable (barely). Also rode Ridge traverse which also is damaged but rideable. Some of these trails need a lot of repair work. I think Johnny’s is a write off unfortunately.

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  • GuestRyder

    Closed for animal protection as of August 1/12

    • http://www.bikepirate.com Peter Oprsal

      Thanks for posting. However, Montane Traverse remains OPEN. The closure you mention is for the trails above Montane Traverse. It can sometimes be confusing to new riders, so to clarify:

      “The only wildlife closure is the old trails above the Montane Traverse.
      We would only close the main trail if there was a bear in the area or some
      other wildlife issue, but not for protection. All the new signs that are up are
      for the area around the old upper bench trail.” - Alberta Tourism, Parks & Recreation

      • BowRide

        Nope. Its closed and the trail is buried in debris on purpose. Just went from the Palliser parking lot, intending to get to the cougar creek lot and came across a big sign and buried trail. You have to descend Johnny’s.

        • http://www.bikepirate.com Peter Oprsal

          I’ve confirmed that Montane is definitely not closed. An Alberta Parks representative walked the trail yesterday to confirm this. The
          section you are referring to as Montane is actually the section of trail/area
          that has been closed for many years; as indicated on the map at the juncture.
          When riding down Johny’s, you want to make sure you stick right on the trail (left on way up);
          to the left is the closed off area. Also, above Johny’s, before you ride left
          and up to continue on to Montane heading west, is an old trail that heads straight up next
          to the creek bed which has been closed for many years, but recently Parks put
          down debirs/branches to close it off completely as they still had users on it.
          My suggestion is to ride the trail from Cougar Creek Parking lot heading west
          on Montane; skip Johny’s as it’s not really worth riding and continue on to the
          Tibbits Quary and down to the Connector and out as shown on the map above. If you had a GPS unit I would say download my GPS file and follow the track to be sure you’re riding the trail correctly. ;)

          Thanks again for your comments. I hope this helps clear things up for you.

          Happy Trails!

  • Yellow Sasquatch

    As of july 8th 2012 “johny’s trail isn’t a simple double track lol. It seemed like half of it was river bed from the last big rains. Great fun on a ten year old hard tail let me tell you :)

    • http://www.bikepirate.com Peter Oprsal

      Thank you for the update. Good to know, but sad to hear of another Canmore trail that has been hit hard by June’s rains.



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