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 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. Download a PDF of this document here.
Know Before You Go
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.
ALWAYS 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.
Research your route for potential hazards (avalanche slopes, gullies, cliffs, cornices, etc.) so you know where to turn back. There aren’t always signs indicating where avalanche terrain begins. For example, you can go TO Chester Lake, Rawson Lake, and Warspite Lake (Black Prince Cirque), but there is significant avalanche danger on/past the lake.
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 pay attention to landmarks. 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!
Winter Trail & Trail Report PDF
The official winter trails and trail reports for Banff National Park and Kananaskis are below. Where possible, I’ve also included trip reports and route descriptions. The tables are best viewed on a laptop, but you can also download the PDF here.
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. 🙂
Bow Valley Parkway (1A) / Castle Junction Area
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.
Canmore and Area
Canmore Nordic Centre
Sheep & Highwood
West Bragg Creek
Important Notes Regarding Kananaskis Conservation Pass & Cross Country Ski Fees
- A Kananaskis Conservation Pass is required to park in Kananaskis. Purchase your pass online at https://www.alberta.ca/kananaskis-conservation-pass.aspx.
- 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.
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 collection of the best snowshoe trails in Banff and Kananaskis.
If you found this post useful, please pin it or share it with friends! Thank you!