Distance: 4.8 km (return)
Time: 1 – 1.5 hrs
Elevation Gain: 43 m
Elevation Loss: 43 m

Technical Rating: Beginner
Physical Rating: Easy
Season: June – October
Permit Required: Yes (Park Pass)

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The Cascade Ponds to Bankhead Trail is a short out-and-back ride to the ghost town of Bankhead. The trail is made up of singletrack and doubletrack as it follows the old Canadian Pacific rail grade. This is a fun trail for a family outing, as it is a short destination ride near the Town of Banff. Your kids will have fun exploring the old ghost town and the locomotive left on display.

Bankhead was a busy place in the town’s glory days. Trains hauled coal from the main tunnel to the breaker building. Each car held two tonnes of coal and there were usually 30 cars to a train. Now you can explore the area’s history with your kids by riding your mountain bike on this easy mountain trail.

Please note that a short and typically shallow creek crossing is found near the trailhead. During the summer months this is not a big deal as the creek runs low and can typically be ridden across. However, this may pose more of a challenge for young children during the spring time when temperatures are cooler and the water level is knee deep.

TRAILHEAD | N51 12.861 W115 31.873

From the Cascade Ponds parking lot, ride north towards the picnic tables along the west side of the pond. Ride between the picnic tables to the start of the well-marked trailhead located at the end of the pond. Follow the first section of winding singletrack through the woods, before popping out left of Lake Minnewanka Scenic Road. Turn right, crossing the road and continuing up the trail to the ghost town.

Alternatively, ride from the Cascade Ponds parking lot west towards Lake Minnewanka Scenic Road, essentially the way you came in. Kitty-corner to the road, there is an open field with a faint singletrack running right below the hydro lines. Follow this singletrack north and out towards another section of the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Road. Cross the road to access the Bankhead trail. This option is much easier to navigate and better for those riding with children, as it cuts out the winding, tight and narrow singletrack through the woods past the ponds.

bikepirate rating: 2 Skulls