Distance: 30 km (return)
Time: 2 – 4 hrs
Elevation Gain: 429 m
Elevation Loss: 427 m
Technical Rating: Advanced
Physical Rating: Moderate
Season: May – October
Permit Required: Yes (Park pass)
A locals’ favourite and a classic Rocky Mountain ride, this sweet and scenic singletrack trail takes you along the shoreline of Lake Minnewanka. As it’s a very popular early-season ride and hike, expect a lot of hikers on the first few kilometres of the trail in early May to June. Please remember to give hikers the right-of-way when mountain biking.
Lake Minnewanka trail is best described as a narrow rolling singletrack with a number of technical sections, a few creek crossings, and some amazing views along the shoreline of the lake. Several of the creek crossings have widened as a result of the June 2013 floods. Parks Canada has added new bridges to get over the badly affected sections and small reroutes are being created in places to bring back the flow in the affected areas. Although extensive damage has expanded the creek beds and crossings, overall the flow of the trail remains intact and is only getting better with the work Parks is doing. This trail remains a must-do ride for anyone visiting the area to mountain bike and is best ridden in the spring or fall. Start early on the weekends to avoid the heavy hiker traffic.
The trail information provided will take you to the warden’s cabin – 15 km one way. You may choose to continue on route to Devil’s Gap (27 km one way), but be warned: the trail does get considerably harder to ride. The singletrack becomes very narrow, overgrown and technical, as it is not maintained beyond the cabin.
Beware of bears. Lake Minnewanka is a popular area for bears and it is recommended that you ride with bear spray and preferably in a group. An annual summer closure to reduce encounters was enacted in 2011, closing this popular ride to bikers from July 10 – September 15. Please respect this closure.
TRAILHEAD | N51 15.005 W115 29.764
From Hwy 1 at the east Banff interchange, drive 6 km north on Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive to the parking lot on the north side of Minnewanka dam. The trailhead is located 500 metres east of the car park. Ride through the picnic and boat launching area to the well-marked trailhead.
N51 14.905 W115 30.013 (carpark)
N51 15.005 W115 29.764 (trailhead)
bikepirate rating: 5 Skulls
The trail information provided will take you to the warden cabin – 15 km one way. You may choose to continue on route to Devil’s Gap.If you choose to continue past the warden cabin, please note that the trail does get considerably harder to ride. The singletrack becomes very narrow and very technical.
8 km to Aylmer Pass junction – keep right
15 km to warden cabin – turn around here; or for the adventurous, continue on
24 km to east end of lake
26 km junction – keep right
27 km ford – time to turn back