The thought of riding a bike in the Canadian Rockies may sound daunting if you haven’t had much experience outside of city riding. So pedalling the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail linking Canmore to the town of Banff and beyond is the perfect introduction. It’s paved, it’s easy and it’s surrounded by beautiful scenery.
Legacy Trail Celebrates Banff National Park
Built in 2010 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Banff National Park, the three-season 22.3 km (13.8 mi) Banff Legacy Trail gave outdoor enthusiasts a 3 m (10 ft) wide lane near the highway, safe from the traffic and fenced off from potential interactions with wildlife. From the Bow Valley Parkway to the park’s east gates, the trail was enthusiastically endorsed by cyclists, hikers and runners alike. When an additional 4.5 km (2.8 mi) extended the trail to Canmore, it just added to the fun. The entire trail is now referred to as the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail.
If you don’t have a bike, that’s no problem. Both Canmore and Banff have shops that rent the best bikes for pavement or for back-country trails.
Gearing Up for the Ride
My husband and I have cycled the trail many times and decided it was time to share the adventure with our daughter. Since it was going to be the first experience on the trail for Bonnie and her friend, we suggested we all ride one way, west to east, from Banff to Canmore, as the drop in elevation makes it a bit easier. It will take us a couple of hours at a leisurely pace on the mostly flat route. To get back to the truck, we’ll use the ROAM bus service between the two towns. Happily, the buses are equipped with bike racks.
We could have started anywhere in the town of Banff but parking at the Cascade Ponds just north of the TransCanada Highway on the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive made it easy to unload the bikes. An underpass at TransCanada Highway had us quickly on the trail. It only took a few minutes to establish the path etiquette rules like stay to the right, ride at a safe pace, slow down for corners….and wait for your mom!
Everyone we passed was smiling and going their own pace and taking breaks wherever they wanted. Valleyview day-use area is almost at the mid-point so we pulled in for a quick snack. I thought the girls would need a rest but apparently the fresh air was working. We quickly resumed our ride. Jeff and I rode in the back and the girls up ahead, pointing out the mountains and wild flowers as they went.
Success at the End of the Road
The ROAM bus picked us up at the stop near the Canmore Travel Alberta Information Centre. Jeff got off at the first stop in Banff to get the truck while the girls and I rode all the way to the centre of town so they could refuel at the candy store. On the way back to Calgary, Bonnie piped up from the backseat, “Next time, can we do the round trip or maybe go mountain biking?”
Jeff and I shared a smile. Success!