Here are a few trail runs to keep your toes toasty this fall. And don't forget to bring bear spray!
1. Vermillion Lakes Road & Fenlands Trail
Get the best of both worlds with this medium distance scenic run. Starting at the Fenland Trail parking lot along Mount Norquay Road, head straight across the wooden bridge. Going either direction, the foot worn forest path will take you along a cool, reclusive route with the creeks and trees until you hit the second bridge. Once across, the trees will open up to Vermillion Lakes Road. Take a left to take in stunning views of Rundle, Tunnel Mountain, and Vermillion Lakes. Turn around at the end of the road (or sooner!)
Difficulty & Distance: Easy, 10k
Quick tip: On your way back, be sure to take the opposite route through the Fenlands trail for a few new views.
2. Minnewanka Lake Loop Road
This is the perfect route for marathon-distance training and maintaining! A bit of a trek from the townsite, follow Banff Ave across Hwy 1, or park at the Cascade Falls trailhead parking lot. The loop will take you along a gradual rolling road to the Lake Minnewanka boat docks. Follow along the barrier dam road past Two Jack Lake and back to town. Take a quick dip pit stop, if you’re brave enough!
Difficulty & Distance: Medium, 13-21k (depending on where you turn around)
Quick tip: There are plenty of curves and turns along this road, meaning a ton of surprise opportunities for vehicles and wildlife. Tune up your speedy senses and stay extra alert on this road!
3. Hoodoos Trail/Tunnel Mountain Loop
Start with spectacular views of the Fairmont Banff Springs at Surprise Corner Lookout, before booting down the steep start to Hoodoos trail to kick off this run. Once you’ve hit the river, the trail will even out to a gradual rolling dirt path through an open meadow to the hoodoo lookout point. From here, take in the valley views of Tunnel Mountain and Rundle. Once you’ve hit Tunnel Mountain Campground, take a left down the road to come full circle to Surprise Corner.
Difficulty & Distance: Medium, 8k
Quick tip: This trail is more rooty than the others, so watch your footing! If you happen to be staying at Tunnel Mountain Campground, run this route in reverse. The HooDoo trail head is right across the road.
4. Bow River Trail & Cascade Falls
One of the most easily accessible trails in town, you can add in a few twists and turns to spice up this run, or stick with the simple stride! Starting at the Banff Canoe Club, follow the trail along the Bow River until you hit the second pedestrian bridge. From here, you can either hang a left to incorporate a stair workout up and along Bow Falls, or keep it simple and maintain an easy pace by turning right to follow the river back upstream.
Difficulty & Distance: Easy, 4-5k
Quick tip: Work on your hill running by staying straight ahead and along the Bow River rather than crossing the bridge. The path will eventually lead you up the steady incline of Buffalo Street to Surprise Corner.
5. Spray River Loop
This old fire road is sure to make you sweat, as the varied rolling hills offer a higher intensity run along the Spray River. A popular trail year-round with hikers, bikers, and cross-country skiers alike, this run starts at the Spray River parking lot located behind the Banff Springs Hotel, and takes you 6k to the picnic area and bridge which is currently condemned due to the flooding last June.
Difficulty & Distance: Medium, 12k
Quick tip: This medium-distance run can be easily turned into a more intensive session, simply continue down the road until you’ve reached your limit!
Happy trails mountain lovers.