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Winter Trails and Trail Reports for Banff and Kananaskis

by Karen Ung

Stay safe this winter by sticking to official winter trails; researching your route; and checking the trail report, avalanche report, and weather before you head out.

Winter trails in Banff and Kananaskis from top left clockwise: Elkwood Loop, Grotto Canyon, Sulphur Mountain, Ribbon Creek

Winter outdoor adventures are wonderful, but require a bit more planning to stay safe. By traveling on winter designated winter trails, you can minimize your exposure to avalanche terrain and lower the chances you will get lost in the cold. Once you’ve chosen a trail, research your route, check trail and avalanche reports, check the weather, pack The Ten Essential Systems, and let someone know where you’re going (and when you anticipate getting back).

In this story, we have compiled Winter Trails and Trail Reports for Banff and Kananaskis.



Know Before You Go

avalanche-danger-sign
Heed this sign for your safety!

Avalanche season is from November until June in the Canadian Rockies. If you do not have avalanche skills training, I strongly encourage you to stick to official winter trails (below). Banff and Kananaskis winter trails for hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and fatbiking are in Simple (aka Class 1) Terrain that are relatively low risk when the avalanche danger is low. The other benefit of traveling on official trails is that they are usually well signed so it’s less likely you’ll get lost.

Low risk does not equal no risk. Some official winter trails cross avalanche paths! Other Class 1 / Simple Terrain trails end right before dangerous features (cliffs, large avalanche slopes) so you need to carry a map and know where to turn back. For example, if you snowshoe to Fairview Lookout, you must stop at the lookout and return the way you came. There is a major slide zone past the lookout!

You should always research your route for potential hazards (avalanche slopes, gullies, cliffs, cornices, etc.) and check the Avalanche Report* at Avalanche Canada before heading out. Danger levels are reported from 1-Low to 5-Extreme. See the Avalanche Danger Rating Scale below. Avoid ALL avalanche terrain when avalanche danger is Extreme/High!

*Avalanche reports are available daily from mid November until late spring. 



Avalanche Danger Scale | Image Credit: avalanche.ca

Here are the official winter trails and trail reports for Banff National Park and Kananaskis.

Banff National Park Trail Reports, Avalanche Bulletin, and Winter Trails

For current trail conditions in Banff National Park, visit Banff – Lake Louise Trail Report.

The Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks Avalanche Bulletin is updated daily from mid November to late spring.

Check the Banff Weather Forecast and dress/pack accordingly. 🙂

Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93N)

Kananaskis Trail Reports, Avalanche Bulletin, and Winter Trails

For Kananaskis trail information, visit Alberta Parks | Kananaskis Trails and search for the trail (e.g. Penstock Loop) or type of activity (e.g. snowshoeing) in the search bar. Kananaskis fatbiking trails may be viewed here.

Visit Avalanche Canada for the current Kananaskis Country Avalanche Bulletin. If you are unsure of the avalanche risk for a certain trail, please call the Kananaskis Information Line at 403-678-0760 or inquire at a Visitor Centre.

Glenbow Ranch

Various – Tiger Lily Loop is good for kids

Important Notes Regarding Kananaskis Cross Country Ski Trail Fees & Parking Fees

  • As of November 2020, parking fees are in effect for cross country ski trails in Kananaskis. Purchase your day pass or season’s pass at kananaskisgrooming.ca.
  • Cross country ski trail fees are in effect at Canmore Nordic Centre until 5 pm daily. For more information, see our story: Cross Country Skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
  • “Backcountry” ski trails are not groomed, so no fees are in effect.

More Winter Fun

Our Winter Activity Guide for Calgary & Area tells you where to ski, cross country ski, snowshoe, snow tube, and ice skate near Calgary.

Discover Where to Snowshoe Near Calgary with our curated list of best snowshoe trails in Banff and Kananaskis.

If you found this post useful, please pin it or share it with friends! Thank you!

Winter trails and trail reports for Banff and Kananaskis
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