Home Destinations The Best Beginner Cross Country Ski Trails in Lake Louise

The Best Beginner Cross Country Ski Trails in Lake Louise

by Karen Ung
Lake Louise is a nordic skier’s paradise, with stunning trails you can access from your door. While there are several beginner (green) trails in the area, the best ones for first time/very young cross country skiers have almost no elevation gain. These family-friendly trails get bonus points for views and ending at scrumptious snack spots!

Bow River Loop

Bow River Loop is the loveliest novice trail you will ever ski. There are no hills to climb and the views of the Bow River and surrounding peaks are outstanding. You can ski a little or a lot depending on how everyone is doing. For a shorter ski (and no road crossings), do half of the Bow River Loop. The south side of Lake Louise Drive (near the campground) is less busy, but starting on the north side means you can ski to Laggan’s or Trailhead Cafe for a treat when you’re done. Both sides are equally pretty! For a longer ski, continue on the 2.2 km Campground Loop and/or 0.7 km Townsite Trail.

If doing the whole loop, be sure to remove skis when crossing the road and keep children close! 

  • Distance: 6.6 km (with options for smaller or longer loops)
  • Elevation Gain: n/a
  • Grooming: Track set
  • Parking: Park near the Station Restaurant or just past the Lake Louise Campground Kiosk.
Park here if starting from the campground
Bow River Loop
Bow River Loop
Bow River Loop
Bow River Loop

Lake Louise

Another stunning trail is the one that goes across Lake Louise! First time skiers can do an out and back to the end of the lake. The trail is completely flat and the view of Mount Victoria and Victoria Glacier is amazing. Once you are comfortable on rolly terrain, try the loop (which returns through the trees and has some ups and downs). Bring your skates as the skating is as divine as the skiing!
  • Distance: 4 km
  • Elevation Gain: 15 m
  • Grooming: Double track set
  • Parking: Public parking lot near Chateau Lake Louise (do not park at the Chateau – it’s $26/day!)
Advisories: 1) Check the Parks Canada trail report and stay off the ice if  “thin ice” signs are posted. For more information on ice safety, please see this post.  2) Do not continue past the end of the lake as there is considerable avalanche risk in the valley. 3) Stay back from Louise Falls as ice sometimes falls down.

Skating on Lake Louise
Cross country skiing on Lake Louise
Skating on Lake Louise during the Ice Magic Festival

Campground Loop

The Campground Loop is a good add-on to the Bow River Loop or option for beginner classic or skate skiers as it is flat, double track set, and groomed for skate skiing. The trail is wide and flat with no noticeable elevation gain, and offers protection from the wind on blustery days as it is in the trees. If your kids need to sit for a bit, there are several cook shelters in the campground with tables and benches.

Combine this loop with the southern half of the Bow River Loop to avoid crossing the street (combined distance is about 5 km). 

  • Distance: 2.2 km
  • Elevation Gain: 15 m
  • Grooming: Double track set and groomed for skate skiing
  • Parking: just past the Lake Louise Campground Kiosk


Once your family has a bit of experience, try Tramline Trail. Following the old tramline route, the steady 3% downhill grade means no hill climbing and easy gliding! With new/young skiers, start from the top, and send one skier back to get the car (or arrange a car shuttle if you’re there with friends). We were amazed at how quickly we made our way down! The promise of a bakery treat at the bottom may have helped too!
Although this is a beginner trail, it is not recommended for first-timers as there are two steep sections. I have seen novice skiers take off their skis at one downhill section because they were too scared to ski down! New skiers can walk down (on the side of the trail) or young children can be put on a tow rope if you are able to maintain control with them skiing ahead of you.

About halfway down, you must cross the road. Keep children close, remove your skis, and use caution!

The trail is mostly in the trees, but opens up periodically to offer gorgeous mountain and valley views. At the bottom, if everyone still has energy, continue along the Bow River Trail to town for a well deserved treat!

  • Distance: 4.8 km one way from the lake (For a shorter ski, start from the Moraine Lake Road parking lot. For a longer ski, start from the lake or end at Laggan’s!)
  • Elevation Loss from top: 195 m
  • Grooming: Double track set
  • Parking: Start from the public parking lot near the Chateau (park at the end furthest from the lake); end at the parking lot near the junction of the Tramline and Bow River Loop Trails.
Tramline Trail
Tramline Trail
Which trail will you try first?

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Playoutsidegal December 14, 2015 - 8:37 PM

Wow!! That must have been amazing! Where do you like to ski?

Unknown November 26, 2015 - 5:16 AM

Lake Louise is an area is an amazing place! I went there for a visit and ended up staying for 10 years!

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