Banff’s Best Mountain Biking

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Written by Madison Valois posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

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Biking in Banff, Alberta – The Ideal Sightseeing Experience

Mountain biking covers more ground while still keeping you in the great outdoors of Banff National Park.

Mountain biking covers more ground while still keeping you in the great outdoors of Banff National Park.

BANFF, Alberta – If you are planning to take your vacation in Banff, Alberta, take my advice and plan on participating in a guided Canadian bike tour. There is no better way to explore the beautiful town of Banff and all the wonderful areas that surround it than on two wheels.

With distances too far for walking and too close for a vehicle, biking around Banff is the perfect way to explore the surrounding Canadian wilderness in ways that would be almost impossible by foot or in a car. With the fresh mountain air in your lungs, the freedom to stop any where you like, as well as the incomparable exercise you will get, biking is the way to go!

I went to Banff in the spring, having been in the process of planning my trip for over a year. I knew that I could not miss taking a bicycling excursion. So I booked a guided bike tour and I must say, it turned into the vacation of a lifetime.

I started out with a short tour in and around Banff, Alberta itself, taking in the magnificent scenery and filling my lungs with fresh, Canadian Rockies air.

This city girl was in ‘breathing heaven’! Besides the exhilaration of being fully oxygenated, I was all a-glow from this initial introduction to what must be one of the most beautiful areas on the planet.

We rode along the Vermillion Lakes to see the amazing bird life – I even spotted an eagle – and then on to Bow Falls, which was the only hill we encountered that day.

The view from Bow Falls provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding natural Canadian beauty, and I remembered reading that this point was made famous in the movie “River of No Return” with Marilyn Monroe. Very glamorous!

We then spun around to the other side of the Bow River to “Surprise Corner” where there was a wonderful view of the Banff Springs Hotel.

The next day I took the Sundance Canyon Bike and Hike excursion. This took us past the Cave & Basin National Historic Site and along the Bow River to Sundance Canyon. We put the bikes aside for a while to hike for about one kilometer through the canyon, past the beaver ponds and into the beautiful, thick forest that makes this place so utterly precious.

We stopped on the way back for a picnic along the river, basking in the Canadian Rocky Mountain sun.

The Lake Minnewanka loop is both scenic and challenging.

The Lake Minnewanka loop is both scenic and challenging.

The last excursion I signed up for was the Lake Minnewanka Loop, a 16 kilometer ride that begins along a serene back road and leads up to the largest lake in the Canadian Rockies. We went past Bankhead, a ghost town that provided a stunning contrast against the sensation of such living nature, and on to Two Jack Lake.

Our guide suggested that we push on to Johnson Lake, making the moderate ride a bit more challenging. Our group was up for it, and so on we went, and it was truly worth the trek. I was using all of the gears on my bike, hoping my body wouldn’t pay for it the next day, and found myself in utter ecstasy at each turn that brought yet another spectacular Canadian view.

Needless to say, we stopped often to explore and take pictures. Not to bring a camera is a crime, you will want to have a reminder of this biking trip once you return home. After a lovely picnic lakeside, we turned back, leisurely biking our way back to home base, realizing that we still had the rest of the day to enjoy!

On my last day in the area my friend and I decided to take our own mountain bike excursion. We boarded the bus at 8:30AM at the Ski Hub in downtown Banff, our bicycles in tow, and arrived at the base of the Sunshine Ski Area. From here we took our time riding back to Banff, first along the paved road, which is an easy downhill ride of seven kilometers.

The valley sits at the bottom and we continued along Healy Creek Road, an amazing Canadian mountain bike trail that took us to the Cave & Basin National Historic Site. We went back to Sundance Canyon, where we had visited the other day, to stretch our legs by hiking a bit.

Feeling the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair, we felt like we ruled the world! Back to our bikes, we explored, hopping on and off for the rest of the day until we arrived back at home base. Truly a trip to remember

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