Distance: 19 km (one way)
Time: 1 – 3 hrs
Elevation Gain: 176 m
Elevation Loss: 435 m

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

GPS (GPX): click here
Google Earth: click here
BVMBA: click here

Goat Creek is a wide fire road or doubletrack trail consisting of dirt and rock that hugs the Rundle Mountain range and follows Goat Creek. It may be ridden one way, as an out-and-back, or as a loop when combined with either the Rundle Riverside trail or the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail. It makes for a perfect family outing provided that a car shuttle can be arranged and that you ride the trail from Canmore to Banff. Riding it in reverse, from Banff to Canmore, is substantially more demanding as the route mainly ascends when ridden in this direction. As an alternative option, consider jumping aboard the Bike ‘n Hike shuttle for a convenient and inexpensive shuttle ride to and from the trail. Or, consider the Roam bus between Banff and Canmore, allowing you to ride the trail one way.

Goat Creek offers up some incredible views of the surrounding mountains along a picturesque route. There are a number of low angle, sustained descents along this trail with several wide bridge crossings. Goat Creek hugs the Rundle Mountain Range and cuts through the majestic pine and spruce forest all the way to Spray Lakes Loop, from where it continues onwards to Banff. During the June 2013 floods a number of the bridge crossings along this route were damaged or destroyed. Since then, all structures have been repaired or replaced, keeping this classic trail open for all to enjoy.

Trail Update (September 22, 2014): Construction of the new Spray River Bridge on the Goat Creek Trail (12 km from Spray West Trailhead in Banff) is now complete and the bridge is open.

If you’re looking to hitch a ride back to Banff or Canmore, after completing your one-way journey along the Goat Creek Trail, consider using the local Hike n’ Bike Shuttle. For a nominal fee they will transport you and your bike back to either town. Or as another alternative, there is always the Roam Bus connecting Banff to Canmore.

TRAILHEAD | N51 03.711 W115 25.119 (CANMORE)

From Canmore drive or ride south (up the mountain) on Spray Lakes Road – note that Spray Lakes Road turns into the Smith Dorrien Road – for about 9 kilometres. Drive past Whiteman’s Pond and park at the car park located on your right-hand side (west); a map board is located in the car park. The trailhead is well marked.

bikepirate rating: 2 Skulls

Options

1) Make the return trip to Canmore by combining Goat Creek with Rundle Riverside and the 742 which takes you back-up to the Whiteman’s Gap carpark . Total distance for this option is 48 km.

2) Make the return trip to Canmore by combining Goat Creek with the Banff Legacy Trail and the 742 which takes you back-up to the Whiteman’s Gap carpark. Total distance for this option is 58 km.

3) Park one car in Banff (retrieval) and drive to Whiteman’s Gap. From there mountain bike to Banff, using your second vehicle parked in Banff to retrieve your first parked at Whiteman’s Gap.

  • Morag

    Is anyone riding the goat trail tomorrow 16 Oct 2017? Looking for someone/people to ride with. Thanks!

  • B-Rad

    Road this trail out and back on Aug 27, 2016. Trail is in dry and in great shape with lots of fun cruising from Spray Lakes to Banff but a long and somewhat deceiving grind coming back. Parking lot was full but don’t let that deter you as there are several other hikes in the area.

  • Patrick

    A friend wants me to do this trail, Can you do it on a hybrid commute bike ?

    • You shouldn’t have a problem on a hybrid if it has good brakes and you’re a competent rider. The trail is beginner to intermediate, meaning it’s nice and wide, mostly pea gravel and doesn’t have anything technical to tackle. The preferred way to ride it is Canmore to Banff, as it descends mainly. Riding back up it will be a greater challenge on a hybrid because of the hills and loose pea gravel.

      • Patrick

        Competent rider you say , I could be introuble , thanks for the info

  • Photo of the new and officially opened bridge across the Spray River on Goat Creek Trail, courtesy of Banff Parks.

  • bob

    Bridge is built.

  • Alissa English

    Great ride for experienced Little Riders. Took 3.5 hours for my 5 year old daughter to complete, with lots of breaks to explore and snack along the way. Kids need a minimum of a 20″ geared bike with front suspension and solid experienceskill on loose rock downhills. Expect to walk up (or push them up)several of the steeper hills. Mud puddles along the way and the water crossing (which requires being carried through the deepest parts) were a Big Hit!

    • Nice! Glad to hear you had such a great outing with the kids along this trail Alissa. Hopefully the bridge will be completed by the expected date, end of September, to cut out the fording, but sound like your kids enjoyed it none the less. ☺

      • Alissa English

        I could have done without the triple crossing (1 trip for the kid, 1 trip back over, 1 trip to take the bikes)! Looking forward to the new bridge.

        • Right, that must have been leg numbing. Glad you had a great day out, aside from the crossing. 😉

  • Latest update from Parks on the bridge being rebuilt:

    The Goat Creek bridge is currently still closed to the public. The bridge is now on its new footings, and in place, but still requires armouring of the river banks against erosion, building up the approaches (ramps) that will lead onto the bridge, and final landscape work. Unfortunately, the bridge must remain closed during these finishing touches as worker and machinery will be active on and around the bridge.

    All this work should be completed by the end of September. The Spray River trails remains open, with an active ford adjacent to the bridge to cross the river.

  • Suilenroc

    Going Aug 22nd 2014, is the bridge done yet ?

    • We’ve not had any new updates on the status of the bridge, but fording the river is possible. I’ll reach out to Parks again for another update and will post it here. They’re plan was to complete this project by end of summer.

      • Rchuong

        I rode last Sunday( aug 10) and the bridge hasn’t been completed yet. Trekking through the river is possible (quite refreshing and dries off quick. Great ride for all levels.

  • Pete Irwin

    Rode it last weekend.River crossing just above the knees.No worries! Rest of the trail in good shape.

  • Derek

    Does anyone know if the trail is doable all the way to banff yet?

    • It is not Derek. Parks just started work on the bridge this month. As soon as we hear that it’s complete, will post the update here and on our trail report page. Happy trails.

  • Update for those planning to ride Goat Creek from Canmore to Banff.

    Construction is underway to replace the Spray River Bridge on the Goat Creek Trail (12km from Spray West Trailhead in Banff). An area closure is in effect for the construction zone surrounding the bridge area. The Spray River/Goat Creek trail is inaccessible from Banff to Canmore due to washed out bridge. Fording of river is not recommended. Spray River West and East trails will remain open, however users must be cautious of trucks hauling rock. ~ Parks Canada

    • Derek

      Can we make it from Canmore to banff? It’s my first time on the trail and wanted to do the loop and take rundle river side back

      • According to Parks, no you cannot make it to Banff as the bridge is being replaced Derek. Sorry, we were not very clear here. There is a potential to ford the river, but it is not being recommended for obvious reasons.

  • puravida

    Any word on the state of this trail? I was thinking about taking it tomorrow?

  • sabrinaaaaa

    Does anyone know if repairs from last year’s flood have been/will be done to the Goat Creek trail?

    • Sabrina, just wanted to let you know we’re looking into this for you. I’ve asked Alberta Parks to provide us with an update that we can share here with our readers. Hoping for a response from our contact at Park’s soon.

      • sabrinaaaaa

        Thanks so much, Peter. I may take a ride next weekend on the Spray River loop to check out the situation there.

        • Sounds great Sabrina, keep us posted on your ride and I’ll post here as soon as I hear back from Parks Canada about the Goat Creek update.
          Happy long weekend!

        • Sabrina, the latest update from Banff Parks is that work has begun on rebuilding the bridge across the Spray River this summer. No official timeline has been provided at this point, but they expect the bridge to be completed by end of summer. So for now, the only way to loop Spray River Loop is by forging the river, which is not recommended once the river starts running high from the spring runoff and rain – forge at your own risk. Hope this helps. I’ll update the Spray River Loop page accordingly.

  • Jordaan1

    Planning to try this one tomorrow , anyone been on this trail recently and know of its conditions?

    • Honey Brew Brew

      Im going on that ride tomorrow too!

    • Hey folks, the trail is not recommended for riding at this point. Check out our trail report page http://www.bikepirate.com/trail-report/ for full details and links to photos. There are many washed away section along with bridges.

  • Did this trail on September 29 2012 with a buddy of mine. Trail was quick, muddy in some spots. But after the last bridge they have done some bulldozing work on the trail and it is pretty slow and sandy. but not for very long. Still lots of rocks and ruts. but the bridges are in great condition all in all a great trail yesterday.

    Of note – we parked at the trail head and rode into banff where there are shuttles available to drive you back to the trail head. Next weekend is the last weekend for this. It’s only $20 http://www.bikeandhikeshuttle.com/rates

  • idan

    Pretty decent conditions on Monday (July 2).  Some puddles still, mostly avoidable or minor, but there’s one doozey about 5km in from the Canmore side – 2″ deep mud under 3″ water and probably 10m long.  Hit it fast and deal with a rooster tail of spray behind you or go slow and get your feet wet as your bike stops.  Other than that, good fun.

    • Thanks again for the trail update Idan. Looks like you’re having a great time out there! Cheers.

  • Thx to Peter for hosting this site and posting news and to ‘Sasquatch’ for giving recent feedback.  😉

  • Sasquatch 01

    I went through May 21st on a commute to work from Canmore to Banff and it is in great shape. All dry and the new bridge in place. Lots of people out on the trail over the long weekend lost or with breakdowns 🙂 I was slow going through at an hour fixing a rental bikers chain and explaining how to get to the gondola from spray river lol.

    • Thanks for the update. You can also check out the latest trail reports for all trails in the area found on our Trail Report page: http://www.bikepirate.com/trail-report/. This is where we post all the updates by us and by visitors to bikepirate that send us an email update or visit our Trails Forum to post their own reports.

  • Goat Creek is now open once again. Both bridges have been repaired and currently the trail is open for x-country skiing.

  • Anyone know when they plan to reopen it?

    • Sorry Idan, no news yet on the reopening. I sent Parks a note asking for an update, I will post it here and on the Trail Report page once I hear back.

    • Hi Idan,

      The latest on Goat Creek from Parks is:

      There are two bridges on the Goat Creek trail that have been impacted by the high water flows: one across Goat Creek and the second across the Spray River. Both bridges have impacts to the sub-structure (the material that supports the bridge). The water level in Goat Creek should return to a more normal flow level next week, allowing for a thorough assessment of the impacts and repairs required. The water level in the Spray River has nearly returned to a normal seasonal level, the impacts to the support for that bridge are fairly extensive and the bridge will require a re-design and new construction. The assessment and design process has begun, it will take some time, there is not a quick-fix option. The intention is to re-open the trail as soon as the safe use of the bridges can be ensured. Weather constraints for construction work may become an issue.

      Stay tuned for further updates; however, looks like it will be closed to the end of the bike season.

  • Steve E O’S

    AWSOME NESS    Rode this trail a few days before it was closed due to high water levels and she’s a fun one with nice downhill rocky sections bridge river crossings and a few climbs to chalange the rider in you.  I started my journey in Banff riding legacy to canmore then up to the nordic centre this section is slow and seriously up up up hill but wicked views dudes.  while worth the ride to catch the trail from the nordic centre parking lot.  Rundle riverside is next ….  

  • Suilenroc

    Yes was just there Sat Aug 6th lots of people pulling up and disappointed it was closed. Signs posted you would be charged if using trail.
    thx trans alta

    • Yup, not the best of news having this great connecting trail closed. Apparently a number of the bridges along the trail are damaged and need to be repaired. I believe we reported about the closure the day it happened, sorry to hear you couldn’t get out and ride it.

      Stay tuned, if anything changes will post it here, the home page and our facebook page. I’ll also remove the “Please Note: Trail is closed” next to the map on this page once the trail opens to the public.

      Thanks for posting the update to let others know in case they missed it.

  • Suilenroc

    Thsi trail closed July 25th/11 till further notice

  • Kelly

    09jul11 – anyone taken this trail recently?

    • Last week a few friends rode it; it’s in great shape. What did you want to know?

  • Snow

    Anyone been here lately?  Still wet or ok?  thx