The Best Mountain Biking In Banff – Your 2024 Guide to Trails, Tours, and Tips

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Are you wondering if you can go mountain biking in Banff? 

In short: yes! As one of the most popular National Parks in Canada, exploring it by mountain bike is a great way to get into Banff’s beautiful backcountry. We were fortunate enough to visit and do a Banff bike tour, so I wanted to share all the ins and outs of that experience and also help you plan your mountain biking trip to Banff.

girl looking over edge while mountain biking in banff

On our trip, we stopped at a lookout to take in the stunning scenery below. As we toppled on what felt like the edge of the world, my daughter asked “Is this why you love mountain biking so much?” Yes dear… you’re starting to get it. 

I quickly explained that I love mountain biking because there are so many incredible places that can only be accessed on two wheels. This morning’s Banff mountain biking tour was one of those moments where you find yourself being transported to a whole new world after only what feels like a few minutes of peddling. On top of hoodoos, the forest floor eroded beneath us, leaving us on the edge while we looked down onto the turquoise blue river. Up to our left was Cascade Mountain, the iconic Banff rock that looks down upon the town like a King sitting on his throne. 

Yeah… it’s moments like this that make my heart pump and yet again inspired by Mother Nature as she shows off all her glory.

Mountain Biking in Banff Options

There are two ways to go mountain biking in Banff, you can take a Banff mountain biking tour, or you can do a Banff mountain bike rental. Let’s discuss both options.

1. Banff Mountain Biking Tour

If it’s your first time visiting Banff, or you like having a customized guided experience, a mountain biking tour in Banff may be the perfect fit. I love doing tours as they customize the riding experience to my family’s fitness level and choose points of interest that are exciting for the kids. I also love knowing that if something goes wrong with equipment, navigation, or safety, I have another adult there who is responsible for helping us sort things out and get back to base camp.

2. Banff Mountain Biking Rental

If you prefer to lead the way on the trails and travel at your own pace, renting a mountain bike in Banff may be the perfect fit. You can use trail forks or get one of the maps, pack up all of your essential gear, and hit the trails on your schedule. This is recommended for more experienced riders who are comfortable navigating mountain trails, and also know what to do in case of an animal encounter, as Banff has a lot of amazing wildlife that needs to be protected. 

We will start by sharing our first-hand experience doing a mountain biking tour in Banff, sharing insights as well as tips and tricks. Then below we will share our recommendations for those who want to do a bike rental and head out to the trails on a self-guided experience. 

Best Banff Mountain Biking –  Bikescape Guided Tour

woman standing next to a mountain bike in front of a flower planter

Born out of 2020 (years we don’t like to talk about), Bikescape is a locally owned and operated company that is one of the best things to come out of the devastation that 2020 caused the tourism industry. When one door closed, owner Clare McCann pioneered her way into the Banff mountain biking scene and took her idea to market. There, she worked collaboratively with Banff National Park and partnered with Parks Canada to make mountain biking tours in Banff finally available! We were honoured to learn more about this new company and excited to see mountain biking becoming more accessible for families in Banff! 

Their mission is, “Our mission (should you choose to accept it) is to get more people on bikes (and skis). To give people the skills and confidence to have the MOST fun while getting off the beaten path. To share our love for epic adventure.”

Banff Mountain Biking Tour – What to Expect

Bikescapes offers four different mountain biking in Banff tours for you to choose from including: 

  • Taste of the Trails Mountain E-bike Tour
  • The “Ultimate” Intermediate Mountain E-bike Tour
  • Bow Valley Parkway Legacy Trail E-bike Tour
  • Private, group skills sessions on e-bikes or mountain bikes

Tours can take place anywhere in the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains of Banff, Canmore, and Kananaskis, Alberta.

What’s included with your mountain biking in Banff tour?

  • All the equipment! Bike & helmet
  • A local, professional, certified, and energetic guide
  • Plenty of stops for those epic Instagram shots (I’ve included some samples below) 
  • Skill sessions to help improve your MTB skills.

Gearing Up – Mountain Biking Basecamp

tour leader pointing to mountain biking in banff map on a post

Our tour started at Tunnel Mountain, which was the perfect place to access the bike trails in Banff. Tunnel Mountain is a natural base camp for mountain biking as the trails lead out like an octopus all through the forest floors. The well-groomed and maintained (thank you volunteers) cross-country trails await eager riders. Whether you’re a beginner rider looking for nice green trails or more challenging climbs with fun descents, Tunnel Mountain is the best spot for mountain biking in Banff. 

The best part? 
If you’re staying at one of the resorts on Tunnel Mountain, Bikescapes will pick you up at your resort and you can start and end your tour right at your front door!

On The Trails – Best Mountain Biking Tour In Banff

looking down at a girl walking her bike while mountain biking in banff

My kids are confident bike riders and have spent some time in the mountains, but after a few months off due to their busy baseball schedule, it was fresh legs and shaky arms as they got back into the rhythm of things. As a Mom, this is why I LOVE being on a tour because the instructor can be the expert and able to cue my kids on little ways to improve their riding as well as select the best Banff mountain biking trails for our riding level. You see when I say the same words, it’s seen as nagging, but when instructor Mike said it, well changes were made and they were excited to improve their skills for him! (#MomLife) 

As a Mom, I also love going on the tour because they make it easy for me to participate in this local adventure. From the front door pick up, to bringing all of the equipment, to planning the appropriate route, I got to go along and enjoy the ride (literally) while my kids had a great time.

Riding Strong – What To Expect On A Mountain Bike Tour In Banff

boy navigating a trail on his mountain bike while mountain biking in banff

Whether you’re looking to try mountain biking for the first time or are looking for a new challenge, the team at Bikescapes can build a customized tour to suit your family’s skills and needs. Children should expect to ride a single track (some trails have a maximum width of about one foot) and be prepared to do some pedaling when needed, although that too can be accommodated to group skill level and physical ability. Your guide will know the elevation and best trails for your crew! 

Once you’re on the trails expect to have a combination of cross-country trails through beautiful forests, meandering grassy knolls, single track alongside rivers, and fun downhill lines that’ll make you pop out of your seat (if you choose to ride a little harder). With mountain biking you’ll choose the challenge and your instructor will find the right course for you!

On The Trail – What The Locals Can Teach You About Mountain Biking in Banff

deer in the forest in banff alberta

When your local guides aren’t busy showing you the wicked trails you may have time to slow down and hang out with the other locals, the wildlife. We were fortunate to get a visit from a teenage deer, who was happy to hang out trailside while we slowly rode by and waved. 

It’s very common to see other wildlife on our bike tour including elk and deer. Other animals such as bears, cougars, and wolves may be in the larger vicinity but are not often found on the trails of Tunnel Mountain. Your guide will be prepared to handle animal encounters and please listen to their recommendations on what to do and when. A negative animal encounter is bad for both the visitors and the local animals.

Best Places To Stop On When Mountain Biking in Banff 

Hoodoo Lookout

view of the river valley from a lookout point on tunnel mountain

The Hoodoo Lookout trail offers several viewpoints as this trail runs along the ridge of the hill. As you can see it was a bit smoky due to wildfires on our trip but it didn’t take away from the stunning views of the hoodoos or the Bow River.

back of a boys head who is wearing a bike helmet and looking out at the views

My kids enjoyed the breaks where they could grab water and a snack and I could snap more photos than I could ever consume! But with scenery like Tunnel Mountain, Cascade Mountain, and Rundell all surrounding you, it’s hard not to get too click-happy in the mountains. I loved that our guide Mike accommodated my need to see all the best viewpoints and aligned them with the best rest breaks my kids would need, making for a win-win experience for all.

Important Safety Tips and Recommendations when Mountain Biking in Banff National Park

Banff National Park is a very special and sacred park that Parks Canada works hard to protect and preserve. As a guest of the park, they have some recommendations on how you can stay safe and be a responsible guest. This includes:

  • Carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it. Bears are a common sight and if you are on the trails you need to know what to do if you come across one.
  • Feeding wildlife is illegal. It is bad for the animals and their habitat. Don’t do it. Pack out any garbage so you leave no trace of your visit. 
  • Park passes are needed to enter the park and go mountain biking on the trails. 
  • Parking lots at popular sites can often be full, so if you can it’s best to bike from your accommodations while visiting.

Mom Tips: What To Pack On Your Banff Family Mountain Bike Tour

woman standing next to her bike and holding it up with one hand in a forest while mountain biking in banff
  • Camera – Whether it’s your iPhone or Nikon camera, bring something to capture the moments in the forests as well as when you reach those scenic viewpoints! 
  • Water – Choose a water bottle that can fit in the holder on the bikes (we chose too large of bottles and ended up carrying them, so go for normal sizes, not oversized bottles). 
  • Layers of clothing – bring a long-sleeved jacket for when you warm up and if you have a break that’s a bit cooler. Otherwise, be prepared to take it off and store it in a backpack during your ride.
  • Pocket snack – I recommend a granola bar that each rider can put in their pocket. I also recommend that Mom have some treats/candy in her pocket for when they need a little motivation.  
  • Backpack – Because you’re a Mom and you’ll end up carrying something of someones. Okay, but to be honest you’ll need somewhere for your room key and all of the little items above.

To book your own family mountain biking tour visit Bikescape’s website and reserve your very own custom tour!

Banff Mountain Bike Rental

If you prefer to do a self-guided bike tour then you can rent your bikes from Bikescapes and head out into the hills to explore. I do love doing this when I’m with a group of riders who are: 

  • Comfortable on the trails
  • Self-supported (know what to do if there’s a flat for example) 
  • Know how to navigate in the forest 
  • Are prepared 
  • Have time to explore 

Bikescapes does not have their website updated advertising this service but you can take it from me, it is a service that they offer in the summer (and they offer fat bike rentals in the winter too!). 

Mountain biking in Banff is great as there are so many wonderful trails to head out on, and many you can access right from the Banff village, so if you’re looking for a rental be sure to reach out to Clare from Bikescapes!

Mountain Biking in Banff FAQs

Is Banff good for mountain biking?

Yes! Banff has an extensive network of mountain bike trails that meander through the stunning beauty that can only be found in Banff National Park. Whether you bring your bikes, take a tour, or rent gear, some of Alberta’s best mountain biking can be found in Banff. 

Is it easy to mountain bike from Canmore to Banff?

If there is a bike trail on my bucket list, this is it! The Goat Creek trail is 43.3 km (one-way) and takes you from Canmore to Banff, where you will ride along Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle. It takes the average rider (who understandably stops for photos along the way) about 4.5 hours to complete, making for the perfect day trip. With limited elevation climbs, this is a trail that is suitable for all riders.

Mountain biking in Banff is the perfect way to experience the beautiful backcountry the area offers. Whether you choose a guided tour or choose to hit the trails on your own, you and your family are sure to have a spectacular time exploring all that Banff has to offer.

Sponsorship Disclosure: While this experience was hosted on behalf of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism and Bikescapes, the opinions, thoughts, recommendations, and media is all my own. I only recommend companies that I would trust my family and friends with and that I would invest resources into myself.

About The Author
Jami Savage
Jami Savage
Jami Savage is one of the top Family Travel Writers in Canada, and has been featured on CTV and Vancouver Sun, and more. Go here to read our families story about how we went from backyard adventurers to world travelers, and how you can do the same. If you want to send Jami a quick message, visit her contact page here.
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Jami Savage

Full Time Travel Writer, Mom who is passionate about empowering and educating travelers on how you can use your own tourism dollars as a catalyst for positive change worldwide. Click here to learn more about us, our family, and how we lead an adventure filled life!

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