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Recent Cycling Adventures

April 3, 2021

Yesterday cross country ski blogger Skier Bob mentioned and promoted our newly released road cycling blog. Thanks SkierBob!. All the best in your retirement. You have been an inspiration for our cyclealberta.ca site.

Make sure you check us out on Instagram @cyclealberta and post pictures of your cycling adventures. If you cycle one of our routes, mention the route name. Thanks and get out there and cycle…well, maybe not today as it is snowing like mad…but you get the point.

March 28, 2021

Some interesting announcements about road cycling in Banff National Park were made recently.

The Lake Minnewanka Loop will be closed to motor vehicle traffic on weekdays, Mondays to Thursdays, May 1-20 to give the road to cyclist! This is a pilot project and Parks Canada is looking for feedback. Check out our Four Hills of Banff recommended ride which starts with the Minnewanka Loop.

The Bow Valley Parkway, to Castle Junction, will be closed to motor vehicle traffic this summer again. Parks Canada is asking cyclist to park at the Fennlands parking lot in Banff and use the Legacy Trail through Vermillion Lakes to get to the Bow Valley Park way. Roam Transit will be running a bus to Johnston Canyon, so it should be interesting to see how the buses and cyclists mix.

Here is the article that was in the Canmore newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Outlook, last week.

March 27, 2021

Well if there ever was a ‘first sign of spring’ I would say it is this. When cross country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre today there was a sign up that read. ‘Do you have your Bear Spray?’. Today we are stocking up on skinny tire tubes and chain grease from The Bike Shop in Calgary. With 24 hours notice you can arrange for curb side pickup.

March 16, 2021

We have it on a reliable source that the Bow Valley Parkway will be closed to motor vehicle traffic again for part of summer 2021. This is great news. Check out our information on cycling the Bow Valley Parkway. Banff to Lake Louise – 111 km. Check back soon as we are also adding in additional cycling options for this route. Spring is in the air!

March 6, 2021

Well, a lot of snow disappeared this week with the sun and wind working its Spring magic. Soon we will be taking our road bikes off their trainers, or dragging out our hybrid early season bikes and getting ready for another great road cycling season. Now is the time to start researching our Early Season Route recommendations in our Cycling Directory like Sibbald Flats, Highwood Pass, Calgary to Chestermere, Springbank or my favourite (on a calm day) Allen Bill to Forget me Not Pond. Karen road the Calgary to Chestermere route today!

Let us know if you have a favourite early season route. We may just add it to this library of fabulous routes.

February 14, 2021

Happy Valentines Day, 2021. Hope that you able to be close to those you love.

Its winter with about a foot of snow on the ground, currently -25 C in Calgary and even colder with the wind chill. So skinny tire cycling adventures are non existent. Check back here in Spring 2021! The ground hog did not see his shadow, that means an early cycling season.

Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, Route Combinations

It is possible to connect from Canmore to Lake Louise through bike pathways, low volume side roads, and the Bow Valley Parkway to experience a variety of biking options that are pretty much limitless. The following are just a few of the possibilities.

2021 Biking Season: The Bow Valley Parkway will be closed to motorized traffic for a portion of this year. This is an amazing opportunity to cycle this historic route without having to worry about sharing the road with cars. Please check with Parks Canada to verify the timing of the closure.

Start of the Bow Valley Parkway

Canmore through to Lake Louise : Two groups could leave from either end and then exchange keys as they pass on the Bow Valley Parkway. This avoids the downtime required for a car shuttle.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

Distance: 80 Km

Estimated time: Based on cycling speed of 20 Km per hour it would take roughly 4 hours

Elevation Gain: 923 m if headed West

Maximum Elevation: 1607 m

Maximum Grade: 7.8 percent

Best Parking Option: Park at the Travel Alberta Canmore Visitor Centre (2801 Bow Valley Tr.) or at the Samson Mall in Lake Louise. Don’t forget that you need a valid Parks Pass displayed or you will be fined.

Points of Interest: This route has 13 interpretative stops along the highway. Some interesting views include a prescribed burn 14 Km West of Banff. Here you can observe the natural recovery of the forest. Johnston Canyon is 25 Km from Banff and makes a great stop to stretch your legs and view the lower falls (1.1 Km). A stunning view of Castle Cliffs is 32 Km West of Banff. Morant’s Curve is 48 Km West of Banff where due to the bend in the road it is possible to see the the Bow Valley, Bow River, train tracks, and an impressive mountain backdrop.

Amenities: There are many options and facilities in Canmore, Banff, and Lake Louise. It is recommended to bring enough food and drink for the day and then supplement your diet with energy treats at either end of the trip. Bathrooms are conveniently scattered along the way at trailheads just off the road.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: I chose to do the Lake Louise to Canmore direction and found that I needed more time to complete the trip. It was a long day for me.

Intermediate Road Cyclist: The Canmore to Lake Louise direction gave me the confidence and training to try longer cycles.

Expert Road Cyclist: Canmore to Lake Louise was a great morning workout for me.

View of Morant’s Curve

What to expect from this ride

This is a classic Rocky Mountain ride which is enhanced by the fact that motorized traffic is limited to 60 Km/hr. on the Bow Valley Parkway. During peak season months (July, August, and September) cars are not allowed on the roadway. Please check with Parks Canada regarding the scheduling of traffic restrictions. No words can describe the enjoyment of cycling this roadway on a gorgeous day with no interference from vehicles. For trip planning purposes it is important to note that the Lake Louise to Canmore direction has an overall loss in elevation and, of course, there is an overall increase in elevation if you decide to start in Canmore and head to Lake Louise. The grade is less than 2% most of the way but be aware that there is a steep decline heading West as you descend into Lake Louise and there is a Texas Gate that can upset your balance before you enter the town proper. I witnessed my friend zip across unknowingly and it does shake a person up. It is recommended that you take the time to get off your bike and just walk the bike across the cattleguard to avoid potential injury (and embarrassment).

Not only is the scenery stunning but there are opportunities to view wildlife. We have seen a variety of bears along this roadway . It is recommended that you travel in a group and that you carry bear spray and know how to deploy it. Please remember not to stop and disturb animals as they are busy foraging and raising their young.

Banff to Lake Louise Out and Back: A Century Ride that can be one of the highlights of the season

Ride difficulty Rating: Intermediate to Expert

Distance: 111.5 Km

Estimated Time: Assuming a steady speed of 20 Km/hr. this ride would take 5.5 hours

Elevation Gain: 1264 m

Maximum Elevation: 1607 m

Maximum Grade: 11.2%

Best Parking Option: Parking in Banff can be difficult depending on the day so it is recommended to use the mobile site https://banffparking.ca/ that has been designed for smartphones. Ideally, it is best to park as near to the access to the Fenland Trail or Norquay Rd so that you are close to the Vermillion Lakes Rd. which is the start to the bike route. Don’t forget to display your valid Parks Pass or you can be fined.

Points of Interest: As mentioned above there are many excellent viewpoints all along the route. One option is to stop for ice cream at Johnston Canyon on the way back to get an energy boost for the last half of the return trip.

Amenities: Fortunately, for this longer ride, there are facilities (bathrooms) available in Banff and Lake Louise and also at trailheads along the way. Bring enough food and water for the trip and then supplement your energy needs at either end.

What to expect from this ride

This is an all day adventure so it is wise to plan considering the weather and if possible to do this midweek to avoid crowds. Make sure that you have trained properly so that the distance is not onerous and plan to go when motorized traffic is restricted so that the journey is even more amazing. Once you are on the road here it is a Rocky Mountain classic and is mostly downhill on the way back to Banff. Please be aware that as you descend down to Lake Louise on the hill that there is a Texas Gate across the road that can rattle your teeth and could cause you to loose your balance. Dismount and walk across since you want to enjoy the trip back to Banff.

Please watch out for wildlife, carry bear spray, and travel with a group that is attired in colorful gear. It is recommended not to stop to view creatures of any type since they get habituated to humans and it inhibits their ability to survive.

Banff to Johnston Canyon: A nice beginner option or a great ride if you can’t spare the whole day.

Ride Difficulty: Beginner

Distance: 47.6 Km

Estimated time: Assuming a steady pace of 20 Km/ hr. it would take roughly 2.5 hours.

Elevation Gain: 570 m

Maximum Elevation: 1492m

Maximum Grade: 8.1 % (heading West)

Best Parking Option: It is best to use the mobile parking website https://banffparking.ca/ to navigate this tourist location and don’t forget to display your parking pass. Try to locate a spot near to the Banff Fenlands trailhead or somewhere close to the Vermillion Lakes Road where the ride begins.

Points of Interest: The whole length of this route is packed with scenic views of the mountains. Of course Johnston Canyon is a great destination where you could go for a hike or grab some food (Ice Cream!)

Amenities: There are facilities (bathrooms) in Banff and Johnston canyon. Food and drink are available in both Banff and Johnston Canyon but you are assured of having the basics if you bring them yourself (especially if it is a busy day in the park) and then have the option of getting some treats at either end.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: This was a better distance for me but I did require more time to complete the trip.

Intermediate Road Cyclist: A lovely ride when I had limited time.

Expert Road Cyclist: This distance was short for me but I just continued to Castle Junction and then turned around.

Johnston Canyon Ice Cream

What to expect from this ride:

This is a great beginner option where you could experiment with road biking on a less traveled highway. If you can go when motorized traffic is restricted (check with Parks Canada) then the journey is even more relaxing. Please chose a fair weather day and travel with at least one other cyclist for safety. There can be wildlife in abundance so carry bear spray and avoid close encounters. Respect the fact that these animals need lots of space to prosper and rear their young.

Sibbald Flats : Beginner Ride on Pavement

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner

Distance: 21 Km

Estimated time: Based on cycling speed of 20 Km per hour it would take roughly 1 hour.

Elevation Gain: 341 m

Maximum Elevation: 1411 m

Maximum Grade: 11.0 percent

Best Parking Option: Park at the Sibbald Flats turn off from Hwy #1

Points of Interest: This route has fantastic views of the Mountains but is included in this Blog primarily as a first time beginner trip on a roadway that is quiet and has a good shoulder.

Amenities: There are no real facilities so be prepared with food and water to fuel the journey. This ride is only one half hour from Calgary.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: This was an easy distance with some great hills. I did it twice to get some distance training.

Intermediate Road Cyclist: I think that this would make a good beginning season ride if repeated twice.

Expert Road Cyclist: This was too easy for me….

What to expect from this ride

Head West on Hwy #1 and take the Sibbald Flats turnoff (Hwy #68) and park before you go under Hwy #1. There is a gravel area that is visible at this access point. The first 21 kilometers of this roadway is paved and in excellent condition. This is a perfect place to test out your road bike at the beginning of the season since the pavement is in great shape and there is minimal road traffic. Sibbald Flats is anything but flat. The hills are still challenging and if you go out and back twice it is good aerobic conditioning.

The area is named after Andrew Alexander Sibbald who was recruited to teach in Morley in 1875 by Rev. George McDougall. Andrew was Alberta’s first teacher and taught at the Morley mission until 1896. He and his son ranched in the Sibbald Creek area until his retirement in 1903. Mr. Sibbald was also involved in the design and construction of bridges and buildings from Calgary to Banff.

In summary, this is a very convenient distance from Calgary to do either an early season ride or test out your new road bike. At some point, we are hoping that the entirety of highway 68 will be paved.

Priddis to Black Diamond : A Peaceful Foothills Escape

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner to Intermediate

Distance: 55 Km

Estimated time: Based on cycling speed of 20 Km per hour it would take roughly 3 hours.

Elevation Gain: 455 m

Maximum Elevation: 1245 m

Maximum Grade: 4.5 percent

Best Parking Option: Park at the Priddis Community Hall (178131 Priddis Valley Rd W, Priddis)

Points of Interest: This route passes right by the Millarville Racing and Agricultural Society. This is where the Millarville Farmers’ Market takes place on Saturdays. There is also a racetrack. Check out the website millarvilleracetrack.com for events and schedules. In addition, this route is festoon with fantastic views of the Rocky Mountains.

Amenities: The hamlet of Priddis has many options but depending upon your timing it is best to come prepared with all of your supplies and refuel at the Millarville Farmers’ Market, Black Diamond or Turner Valley.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: This was a challenge for me due to the hills but was very pleased with the quiet secondary roads.

Intermediate Road Cyclist: This was a great ride with wonderful scenery

Expert Road Cyclist: This was a good early season training run.

What to expect from this ride

This is an excellent way to access the Millarville market and Black Diamond-Turner Valley on quiet secondary roads It is an out and back trip that has some excellent mountain scenery.

Start in Priddis and head South along Range Road 32. Carefully cross the #22 Hwy at Twp Rd 214 and continue South on Range Road 30. A little past the intersection with the #549 you will see the grounds of the Millarville Racing and Agricultural Society. This is where you can stock up on delicacies to fuel your ride. Next you will head East on Twp Rd 210 and then South on 176 Street to Turner Valley – Black Diamond. These two scenic foothills towns are connected via the Friendship Trail and, most recently, are considering amalgamating to save on municipal costs.

Enjoy the great scenery on this ride and be safe by checking the weather forecast and leaving early to avoid traffic and afternoon storms.

Highwood Pass: Through Route to Longview, Gate to Gate to Gate, Kananaskis (North Gate) to Summit, Longview to Summit, South Gate to Summit…the options are endless

Highwood Summit – June 6, 2019 Is that snow??!!

Through Route to Longview – Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Expert , also an expert level of logistics and planning required!!

Distance: 98.9 km…darn, just shy of a metric century ride

Estimated time: 5 hours based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr, but you might be quite a bit faster because there is quite a long descent on this route.

Elevation Gain: 785 m gain, 1255 m loss

Maximum Elevation: 2,206 m

Maximum Grade: 7.0 % uphill at 16.4 km (just before you reach the Highwood Summit, then 4.9 % downhill at 23 km.

Best Parking Option:

Park where Hwy 40 ends at the Kananaskis Lakes Trail (Peter Lougheed Provincial Park) turn off. As this is a through route, you will shuttle a car down to Longview and park in town. We recommend dropping a car off in Longview the night before, otherwise it will make for a long day of riding and shuffling cars.

Gate to Gate to Gate (or Summit X 2) – Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Expert – this ride earns you bragging rights!

Distance: 109.7 km

Estimated time: 5 hours based on a 20 km/hr speed

Elevation Gain: 1,526 m

Maximum Elevation: 2,206 m

Grades: 7.1 % just before you reach the summit the first time, and of course 7.1% downhill just after you summit the second time.

Points of Interest:

Highwood Pass Summit at the 16.9 km mark. If you proceed just past the summit, there are washrooms and picnic tables.

Bonus! Summit a second time on the return trip.

Amenities: There are several picnic stops along the way that have resting spots and pit toilets.

Park at either the north gate or south gate. The Ride with GPS map shows the route from the north Kananaskis gate.

Kananaskis (North Gate) to Summit – Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner

Distance: 33.9 km

Estimated time: 1.75 hours based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr, but you might be quite a bit faster because there is quick descent on this route.

Elevation Gain: 622 m

Maximum Grade: 7.1 % uphill just before you reach the summit and of course 7.1% downhill on you quick return trip.

Maximum Elevation: 2,206 m

Points of Interest/Amenities:

Highwood Pass Summit at the 16.9 km mark. If you proceed just past the summit, there are washrooms and picnic tables.

Best Parking Option:

Park where Hwy 40 ends at the Kananaskis Lakes Trail turn off. Pull well off to the side of the road.

Longview to Summit – Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Expert

Distance: 162.2 km

Estimated time: 8 hours based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr, but you might be quite a bit faster because there is quite a long descent on this route. Nothing like putting in an honest 8 hour day!

Elevation Gain: 1,436 m

Maximum Grade: 5.8 % uphill at about km 76, and 5.0 % downhill at km 87

Points of Interest:

As you depart Longview you will be treated with a long slow elevation gain through some lovely ranch country. You will be sharing the road with motor vehicle traffic until you get to the south gates at Highwood House Junction (Dec-June).

The Highwood Pass summit is your destination. Washrooms are just before you reach the summit and there are many pullouts and picnic stops along the way once you get past the south gates.

Best Parking Option:

Park in the town of Longview. Do not block any driveways.

South Gate to Summit – Ride Statistics

This is our preferred route!!!!

Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

Distance: 75.8 km

Estimated time: 3.5 hours based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr, but you might be quite a bit faster because there is quite a long descent on this route.

Maximum Elevation: 2,206 m

Grades: Uphill 5.8 % at 32.8 km, 5.0% downhill at 43.7 km

Points of Interest:

On your ascent you will be surrounded by beautiful mountain views. The summit is your destination.

Best Parking Option:

Drive to Longview, turn west on to Hwy 541. Proceed to the south gates which is at the Highwood House Junction. Park at the south gates. Pull off the road.

What to expect from this ride

Hwy 40 from the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to Highwood House Junction is closed to motor vehicle traffic from Dec 1 – June 14th most years. This creates perfect early season road cycling opportunities along one of the most beautiful roads in Alberta. Highwood Pass is the highest paved pass in Canada..so a unique opportunity to get to this elevation on a road bike in Canada.

For updated details on Hwy 40 road closure, refer to the Annual Road Closure – Kananaskis.

First thing to mention on this epic ride is that you should remember that you are in the Rocky Mountains which means the possibility for rapidly changing weather conditions as you gain elevation. We did this ride on a beautiful, hot spring day in 2018. At the summit there was a strong cold wind. Without additional clothing to layer on for the descent made for a very uncomfortable ride…frozen hands and feet are not fun on a road bike. Although this makes a great early season ride because of the road closure until June, it also means that you may encounter snow on the road which might prevent you from reaching the summit. Don’t be disappointed, and come back a week later and conditions will have changed. Remember this is a closed road in the winter so is not plowed.

The second thing of importance is that this ride is along a paved mountain road. So the shoulder surface is different than the road surface. Because most cyclist ride here when the road is closed, you will ride on the road which is a rough, chip seal surface. This is fine on the ascent, but we find on the long descent this can make for quite a bit of handle bar vibration.

Through Route: This ride takes a commitment to either shuttle cars from Kananaskis and Longview or two cycling groups, one that starts at Kananaskis and one that starts from Longview. Meet up in the middle and exchange car keys!!!

Anyone who has done the Highwood Pass has their preferred route and direction. I prefer coming at the pass from the Longview side, as I prefer a longer climb, slightly gentler grades and fewer cyclists. You will be cycling more in the sunshine from the south gate than from the Kananaskis gate approach. The Longview to Summit, South Gate to Summit out and back rides are the ones to try if you prefer to approach from the south…or if you live in south Calgary.

The North Gate (Kananaskis) to Summit ride is an out and back that we have seen all levels of cyclist..from small children, to e-bike riders to the most experienced road cyclist. The beauty of this ride is that there is room for everyone when the road is closed. Just take your time and you will make it to the summit.

We have not done this ride when Hwy 40 is open to traffic. What is it like being confined to the shoulders? Are there any cyclists out there that can provide us with comments?

Highwood Pass coming up from the south gate….May 27, 2017. We had to turn back just a few km’s shy of the summit on this day but it just gave us incentive to come back and try again a week later. Are those rumble strips in the shoulder?
From the south gate: There are often wildlife viewings on the Highwood Pass routes.
From the north gate; you can see many cyclists prefer this route.

Nanton to Chain Lakes – More Details Coming Soon

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

Distance: 58.5 km

Estimated time: 3 hours assuming 20 km/hr

Elevation Gain: 728 m

Maximum Elevation: 1430 m

Maximum Grade: 4.8% uphill at 8.5 km, 4.8 % downhill at 52.4 km

Best Parking Option: From Nanton, turn west on Hwy 533, travel to the intersection of Twp Rd 163 and Hwy 533, pull safely off the road on the gravel road and start your ride here.

Points of Interest: Amazing west views that will take your breath away…as will the hill climbing.

Chain Lakes at the turn around point.

Amenities: Outhouses at the Chain Lakes picnic and camping area at the half way point.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist:

Intermediate Road Cyclist:

Expert Road Cyclist:

What to expect from this ride

Coming soon – Details on this amazing road cycle ride.

Grand Valley to Bottrel : Foothills Challenge

An Iconic Landmark
Cyclists take note

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate to Expert

Distance: 64.6 Km

Estimated time: Based on cycling speed of 15 Km per hour it would take roughly 4 hours. Hilly terrain justifies a lower average speed.

Elevation Gain: 500m

Maximum Elevation: 1355m

Maximum Grade: 9 percent

Best Parking Option: Park just off of Horse Creek Road and Hwy 1A ( There is a small strip mall on the North side of the 1A just before the turnoff that is never usually full).

Points of Interest: The focus for this alternate Grand Valley loop out and back option is the Hamlet of Bottrel (General Store c1905)

Amenities: The town of Cochrane has everything required to start your ride. The Bottrel General Store makes an excellent pit stop for lunch.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: I prefer the Grand Valley to Horse Creek Road Loop! This is a better length for me.

Intermediate Road Cyclist: This was a challenging ride due to the hills on the Bottrel out and back section. Wonderful foothills vistas.

Expert Road Cyclist: A great ride with some good foothill inclines.

What to expect from this ride

This is a variation on the Grand Valley to Horse Creek Road loop that includes an out and back section to the Bottrel General Store circa 1905. This is a challenging ride due to the elevation gain and loss as can be viewed on the graph. It is advised to start at the Horse Creek junction with the 1A and proceed West along the 1A for a short distance until you exit and travel North on the Grand Valley Rd. This is so that you follow the route counterclockwise. Now you can travel uphill on the Grand Valley Road which has rougher pavement.

If the weather is holding and you are feeling energetic, the ride to Bottrel is worth the effort. After all, the store is historic and has a peaceful back deck. It is a nice spot to stop for lunch and has an interesting bathroom facility. Essentially you turn North at the Horse Creek Road junction (Range Road 50) and then head East on Township Road 284 until intersecting the Bottrel General Store.

Edward Botterell and E. H. Botterell ( from Montreal ) were the founders of The Dog Pound Ranch in the late 1880’s. This became the The Botterall Ranch hence the origin of the name of the Hamlet. In 1905 the property was purchased by J. T. Boucher and he opened the Bottrel General Store and Post Office which saved the surrounding population from travelling into Crossfield. There is a park and and campground out back on the Dog Pound Creek.

In summary, we are privileged to be able to cycle these roadways in the heart of scenic ranching country. The pastoral countryside with mountain and foothills vistas is spectacular. Early morning is the best time to tackle this as storms build (along with the wind) in the afternoon hours. Please be cautious of working machinery and livestock traversing the same path. They have the right of way!

Brown Lowery Millarville Loop Trip

Brown Lowery Viewpoint

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner to Intermediate

Distance: 47.3 Km

Estimated time: 2.5 hrs (based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr)

Elevation Gain: 481 m

Maximum Elevation: 1374 m

Maximum Grade: 4.9 %

Best Parking Option: The Brown-Lowery Provincial Park Parking lot

Points of Interest: The Brown-Lowery Park is located in the middle of beautiful foothills terrain so the scenery is gorgeous throughout the ride. At the end of the out and back section there is a particularly nice high point with a vista of the mountains. The Millarville Market on Saturdays is another highlight (check the market schedule to make sure of the timing).

Amenities: There are outhouses in the Brown-Lowery Parking lot. In addition, the Millarville General Store is a nice spot to stop and eat and has provisions. The Millarville Market on Saturdays would be a great place to visit first if you wanted to stock up on delicacies before heading out.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: A very good challenging ride on quiet back country roads

Intermediate Road Cyclist: This was a relaxing ride with many good hills for training and stunning scenery.

Expert Road Cyclist: I could do this loop and then connect to do “The Road to Nepal” via Twp road #242 for a great day trip.

What to expect from this ride

This cycle trip features the ranch-lands and foothills Southwest of Calgary. There are many vistas to admire along this route and only one small section near Millarville encounters busy traffic.

This ride can be experienced in many different ways but if you proceed counterclockwise from the Brown-Lowery Provincial Park you will get the major hill over with while you are fresh. The loop traverses exceptional countryside and the Southernmost section is like cycling through a park. The short out and back section allows the cyclist an incredible view of the Rocky Mountains.

To begin, make a left hand turn onto Plummer’s Road which intersects the busier secondary road # 762. Turn left and follow the #762 South. Continue South when you reach the intersection with the #562 (where it becomes 320th St. West). Now make another left when you reach the T intersection with Twp Rd 204 and enjoy the tranquil surroundings. When you reach the next intersection you have the choice of doing the out and back section on Range Rd #35 which gets you up higher for a stunning view of the mountains. The pavement on the out and back portion is not as smooth but is still reasonable. To complete the loop veer right after coming back out and you will merge onto Twp Rd 210 (338 Ave). Now comes the only tricky section. Turn left onto Hwy 22 and travel roughly 0.8 Km before making another left onto Hwy #549. Take your time and choose a moment when the traffic is clear and wear your florescent colored safety vest. The Millarville General store is located just off Hwy #549 (Main Str. NW Millarville) and is a perfect spot to take a break. Finally you take #549 West and make a right on to Range Rd. #33. Keep left at the next intersection to intersect Plummer’s Rd and make the left to ride back to the Brown-Lowery Parking lot. If you want a longer ride you can make a right at that last intersection to stay on Rg Rd #33 and then head East at the junction with Twp Rd #242 to join the “Road to Nepal” circuit for a longer ride.

Rosebud to Standard Out and Back – A Plains Traverse

Village of Standard

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner

Distance: 46 Km

Estimated time: 2.5 Hrs based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr

Elevation Gain: 400 m

Maximum Elevation: 972 m

Maximum Grade: 7.2%

Best Parking Option: Village of Rosebud street parking.

Points of Interest: Historic town of Rosebud, Museum, The Rosebud Theater, shops and galleries.

Amenities: There are limited amenities in this small village and nothing is open first thing in the morning. Plan to use facilities on the way to Rosebud and bring everything needed for hydration and energy.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: This route was a perfect lead in to more difficult rides due to the gradual hill climbs. It was very nice not to be on a busy road!

Intermediate Road Cyclist: I enjoyed the hills and scenery and found this to be a great early season training ride.

Expert Road Cyclist: I could do this twice and really get the training I need on a good road surface.

What to expect from this ride

Alberta has some very picturesque countryside East of Calgary. Many of the small towns and villages are worth a visit. This easy out and back cycle trip should be undertaken early in the day when the weather forecast is safe for an exposed prairie trip. There are few trees and buildings to hide behind out here! The wonderful thing is that the traffic is minimal and you can see it coming from a long way off.

It is recommended to start in Rosebud and head South on the Hwy 840 until you reach Standard. On the way, after 15 Km, you will come to the intersection of Hwy # 564. Please come to a full stop here and then continue South. You will reach Standard in approximately 23 Km and can make a pit stop before returning to Rosebud.

Take advantage of the arts scene in Rosebud and view one of the plays that feature outstanding talent (the buffet is excellent too). Drumheller is also close by so you can go fossil hunting and visit the Tyrrell Museum if time allows.

Rosebud Loop – Prairie Challenge

Historic Town of Rosebud

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

Distance: 71.5 Km

Estimated time: 3.5 Hrs (Based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr )

Elevation Gain: 614 m

Maximum Elevation: 990 m

Maximum Grade: 5.9 % at 17.8 Km and -6.1 Km at 19.3 Km

Best Parking Option: Rosebud side roads

Points of Interest: Prairie panoramas at the high points, the historic town of Rosebud, the Rosebud Theater (The only professional rural theater in Alberta). Rosebud Centennial Museum. The town of Rockyford (est. 1913) is a great place to stop to refuel at the midpoint of the bike.

Amenities: There are no gas stations or ATMs in this tiny village. If you arrive early in the morning there will not be anything open so be prepared to start your ride with that knowledge. Stop for a bathroom break before getting to the town. The Thorny Rose Cafe opens at noon and there are some interesting gift shops and galleries.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: I did a portion of this ride and loved it!

Intermediate Road Cyclist: This was a great ride along quiet roads in a unique setting.

Expert Road Cyclist: I really was surprised that this route had such hilly terrain…it was a great training run.

What to expect from this ride

If your looking for something different head East to the small town of Rosebud where the Rosebud River meanders through an idyllic prairie setting. You could do this bike ride and then enjoy the Rosebud Theater dinner and play. The ride then justifies the enjoyment of the great buffet! Weather is a consideration in this area because you are exposed in this prairie environment. Don’t forget to check the forecast and start early to avoid strong winds. Wear bright clothing to stand out on the road.

This ride is best done clockwise so head out South on Hwy 840 and travel roughly 15 Km until you come to the junction of secondary Hwy #564 where you make a right. You have been steadily gaining elevation and now you will experience the the highest point at 18 Km. Enjoy this vista before you speed down to the next junction at 26 Km. Make another right onto Range Road #233 and expect to see Rockyford appear in another 5 Km. You can take a break to refuel if you wish before heading North to the junction with the main Highway #9. This is a much busier road but there is a wide shoulder and the pavement is excellent. Travel 12 Km before making your final right turn to join the 840 and enjoy the final cascading hills down to Rosebud.

Badlands Tour – Drumheller Dinosaur Trail

Badlands Scenery

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner to Intermediate

Distance: 47.7 Km

Estimated time: 3.5 Hrs Based on cycling speed of 15 km/hr (Incl. Ferry crossing and steep climb up the embankment)

Elevation Gain: 400 m

Maximum Elevation: 824m

Maximum Grade: 13.8%

Best Parking Option: The Visitor Information Centre (60 1st Ave W, Drumheller, AB) Look for the world’s largest dinosaur!

Points of Interest: Landforms along the route, Tyrrell Museum, Bleriot Ferry

Amenities: Bathrooms at the visitor’s centre.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: I had to walk my bike on the steep incline after getting off the Ferry!

Intermediate Road Cyclist: This was an amazing workout with unique scenery!

Expert Road Cyclist: Great early season ride and loved those steep grades.

What to expect from this ride

Cycling the Badlands has to be one of the best ways to experience this geologic wonderland. The unique land forms and spectacular views are displayed all along this route. The historic Bleriot Ferry ride across the Red Deer River makes this trip one of a kind.

The total distance for this ride is 48 Km. There are two challenging hills as you climb out of the Red Deer River valley onto the escarpment and then when you debark from the Bleriot Ferry and climb back up for the return trip. All of that elevation gain is then translated into lovely downhill stretches that fully compensate for your efforts. A maximum grade of 13.8% can be experienced if you go counterclockwise at 26 Km when you climb up from River to start the South half of the Dinosaur Trail. Parking is available at the Drumheller Visitor Centre (Look for the “World’s Largest Dinosaur”). It is the perfect spot to pick up a map and chat to the experts at the centre to verify the Bleriot Ferry hours and road conditions. It is recommended that the loop be ridden counterclockwise since there are rumble strips along the North uphill section. It is easier to avoid these bumps on the climb up (you may have to ride slightly on the outside of the shoulder since it is narrow and the rumble strips take up this space). The ideal time to do this ride is early season before the valley heats up (and it does get very hot during the Summer). Alternatively, a cool day in the Summer in Calgary becomes a comfortable day to do the ride in Drumheller (check the weather reports before planning a trip!). This road can get busy since it is a recommended tourist scenic route and accesses the Royal Tyrrell Museum, hikes, and other points of interest in the Badlands. Fortunately the traffic is slow moving and if you ride single file and start early, the trip will be even more enjoyable. Completing the loop on the South side of the river is a downhill run with a large shoulder and no rumble strips to interfere with your stability. There is more traffic so be visible and ride single file!

After you complete this tour, consider taking advantage of other options such as the Rosebud Theatre, hiking, and a visit to the world renown Tyrrell Museum.

Carstairs Loop – Spectacular Farmland Vistas

Racing Against the Storm

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

Distance: 66.8 Km

Estimated time: 3.5 to 4 Hrs based on average of 20 km/hr (assuming some stops along the way)

Elevation Gain: 557 m

Maximum Elevation: 1187 m

Maximum Grade: 4.9% at 33 Km

Best Parking Option: Park just off of Main Street near the Koffee Kabin (1112 Osler Str.)

Points of Interest: Historic store and farm site, PASU Farms, U-Pick Berry Farm

Amenities: There are washrooms at the gas station in Carstairs (Fas Gas Plus – 802 Centre St.)

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: Whew, this was a very long ride !

Intermediate Road Cyclist: Nice relaxing trip with good rolling hills.

Expert Road Cyclist: Great training run with interesting scenery.

What to expect from this ride

This ride is a great way to view rich Alberta farmland. We can see the work that goes into the food that we consume and take for granted. This route is very exposed to weather as the storms can spawn quickly and they usually are pushed Westward from the mountains in a hurry. For this reason it is very important to check the weather forecast throughout the day. Leaving early is necessary to avoid afternoon weather disturbances and wind. At the same time those skies are never ending entertainment.

To begin, park along main street Carstairs and perhaps grab a coffee at “The Koffee Kabin” just off the main drag. The route is best travelled counterclockwise. Head West up Township Rd #303 (Carstairs Blind Road). There is no shoulder on this section but the road is quite peaceful. After roughly 19 Km turn left onto Range Rd #35 (Garfield Road). On the corner is a plaque noting the site of the original General Store and Post Office. Continue along this very quiet country road until you reach Township Rd #292 where you make another left turn. The “292” is busier but there is a good shoulder and great vistas as you head back East. Please watch carefully at the intersection of the “292 and the “766” at the 40 Km point since you are travelling fast downhill and even though there is a Stop sign for vehicles on the “766”, they may not see you approaching at warp speed! Along the 292 is the U-Pick Berry Farm and when you make the final Left onto Range Rd. 23, you will pass by PASU Farms which specializes in woollen goods. Continue until you intersect the Township Rd. #303 where you make a Right turn and follow back to Carstairs. This is not a true loop trip as you have to double back a bit on the “303” in order to avoid some poor road conditions on the “292”.

Horse Creek Road, Grand Valley Road Loop

Big Sky country! Riding up Horse Creek Road.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner

Distance: 29.5 km

Estimated time: 1 hour and 30 minutes based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr

Elevation Gain: 183 m

Maximum Elevation: 1306 m

Maximum Grade: 2.7 % uphill and -2.9% downhill, both along Twp Rd 272 as you are heading east

Best Parking Option:

Travelling west on Hwy 1A , leave the Calgary city limits and continue until you are past the town of Cochrane, turn north on to Horse Creek Road. Just as you turn off Hwy 1A, park in a safe spot along the road.

Alternatively, park in the strip mall at the corner of Hwy 1A and Horse Creek Road. Do not park near the businesses.

Points of Interest:

Travelling north up the Grand Valley Road you will pass by many working ranches.

Amenities:

There are no amenities along the route. Stop in Cochrane prior or after the ride if you require a pit stop.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: A great distance for a beginner but the initial short section along Hwy 1A may be uncomfortable for some riders.

Intermediate Road Cyclist: A good ride with low traffic levels. A front end loaded ride, all the work is at the beginning and then it is cruising.

Expert Road Cyclist: A good short training ride for a weekday evening. Motor vehicle traffic is polite, farm traffic.

What to expect from this ride

This ride is a great training ride for more advanced cyclists and a good beginner ride for those that don’t mind a short busy section heading west along Hwy 1A.

After parking along Horse Creek Road, head west on Hwy 1A for a short section of narrow, rough shoulders and wind. Ride single file. For beginner cyclist this is a good introduction to Hwy travel as this is a short section ~ 5km with minimal grades. We often just grin and bear it…

Heading north on the Grand Valley Road is a treat of gentle uphill grades through rolling farmland on very low volume traffic roads. We were once stopped on this route for a cattle drive which is a wonderful Alberta experience. The road surface is chip seal so makes for a bit of a rough ride and is why we recommend doing this circle route in a clockwise direction.

After turning east off the Grand Valley Road onto Township Rd 272 the pavement is newer and smoother asphalt. You will likely have the wind at your back so you can pick up speed on this relatively flat section.

Head south back down along Range Road 15 and enjoy the lovely gentle downhill with a few twists and turns. We have often had this road to ourselves, not a car in sight. Just follow the pavement all the way back. You know you are getting close when you pass by some lovely acreage homes. Watch out for the steep grade over the last couple of hundred meters of this ride as you descend back to your vehicle.

Calgary to Chestermere

June 13, 2019 Irrigation Canal along the Calgary to Chestermere Route

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner but can be used as a longer early season training ride

Distance: up to 80 Km (out and back)

Estimated time: Up to 4 hours based on a cycling speed of 20 km/hr

Elevation Gain: 10m

Maximum Elevation: 1200m

Best Parking Option: Edworthy Park, Max Bell Arena, or the Bow Waters Canoe Club

Points of Interest: Chestermere Beach, Irrigation Canal, Golf Course,

Amenities: Bathrooms are located at the end of the Bike path at Chestermere (Port O Potty) or at the Tim Hortons

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: I felt comfortable starting this route at the Bow Waters Canoe Club. I was able to increase my distance to 56 Km on the pathway without feeling pressured. I can use this route to condition myself to longer excursions.

Intermediate Road Cyclist: This is a great early season route to get some distance training in preparation for my longer rides.

Expert Road Cyclist: I can depend on this pathway system to provide early season training for 80 Km or more if I connect to other city pathways.

What to expect from this ride

This ride connects Calgary to the bedroom community of Chestermere. It is very unique because from the Max Bell Arena to Chestermere you are following the irrigation canal. The canal is only a small portion of the Western Irrigation Districts 1200 Km of canals and pipelines. It provides irrigation water to over 400 farms and municipal water to four communities using a gravity drainage system that started in 1904 with the placement of the diversion weir on the Bow River in Calgary. You can access this ride from anywhere along the Bow River Pathway and the maximum length of ride is 80 Kilometres one way making this a very good early season training route for expert cyclists and a fun beginner ride any time of the year.

Although this route traverses some of the industrial areas of Calgary there is no denying the appeal of this long distance option early in the year. Once you reach the irrigation canal waters it is a very unique opportunity to savour a Spring ride along this channelled river. It makes sense to do this ride early since you are exposed to wind and weather that forms during the day. At the mid point, dip your feet into Chestermere Lake at Anniversary Park beach in Chestermere (or go for a swim) and you can pop into the Tim Hortons across the street for sustenance to fuel your return trip.

Springbank

Cycling up Range Road 32 from the river valley. Feb 25, 2016!! Yes, you read that correctly, February road cycling is a rare treat.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Beginner

Distance: 35.2 Km

Estimated time: 1 hour and 45 minutes based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr

Elevation Gain: 274 m

Maximum Elevation: 1275 m

Maximum Grade: 4.3% uphill grade, 4.4% downhill grade on the trip to the river valley on Range Road 32

Best Parking Option:

Park in the shoulder on Twp Road 250 at the corner of Old Banff Coach Road and Twp Road 250. Do not block traffic.

Points of Interest:

A beautiful view of the Bow River on the descend down the river valley on Range Road 32.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: Very easy ride.

Intermediate Road Cyclist: Not much for a challenge here, but a good training route for a weekday evening.

Expert Road Cyclist: Too short for me!!!

What to expect from this ride

This is a fun ride recommended for beginner cyclists which gives a chance to get out of the city and introduce you to cycling relatively quiet country roads. We recommend this ride on mid-day weekdays or weekends. This route should be avoided when the acreage owners are rushing home from work on weekdays, ~4-6 pm.

The highlight of this ride is the fun meandering descent down the Bow River valley and then the climb back up.

This ride is a recommended early season ride. We have ridden this route as early as February during a nice winter chinook.

Century Ride from Turner Valley

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

Distance: 101.7 km (or round it to 100 km! and call it a century ride)

Expected time: 5 hours based on 20 km / hour average cycling time

Elevation Gain: 798 m

Maximum Elevation: 1403 m

Maximum Grade: 4.7 % short uphill on the return ride on Hwy 40, -5.5% downhill on the out trip at about the same location

Best Parking Option:

Park in Turner Valley at the Community Centre if there are no activities going on. Alternatively, there is ample parking in the town along side streets. Do not block driveways.

Points of Interest:

The town of Black Diamond is a great spot to experience the cowboy life. Visit the famous Black Diamond Bakery and Cafe on Centre Ave, but best to keep the stop for the return trip.

Beautiful ranch lands and foothills are the highlight of this trip.

Amenities:

Washrooms available in Longview.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: A very long out and back but you an turn around at any point.

Intermediate Road Cyclist: A great ride….but the on a windy day it will be very challenging.

Expert Road Cyclist: Challenging yes! But on a good day extend the ride all the way to the Highwood summit.

What to expect from this ride

This is a fun out and back ride to do with friends on a weekend afternoon. The first part of the ride is through Turner Valley, then within a few minutes you will be in Black Diamond. But don’t get distracted as the ride has just begun and there is still a long way to go.

Continue on to Longview by heading south on Hwy 22. This part of the ride is a series of fairly gentle ups and downs on a fairly good shoulders. Ride single file. Some cyclist find this portion of the ride unnerving on heavy traffic days. This section is about 17 km, each way.

Once you turn off Hwy 22 at Longview, head west on Hwy 541. There will be little traffic but you may be surprised on how windy the Foothills can get. On one ride here I was sure I could have walked faster than I was cycling…there must have been a 60 km/hr wind! Hwy 541 is a very gradual uphill climb to the turn around point. Take a moment to soak in the view!!! There is always the option to continue west …but the goal of this ride is to reach century status (at least the metric century status of 100km). There is no specific marker on where to turn around so make sure you have your GPS coordinates with you. Click on the link above to see where we turn around to make it a metric century ride.

Madden-Water Valley-Cremona (Short Version)

Cycling quiet country Twp Road 292 towards the Water Valley Golf Course on a beautiful summer day. This cyclist is practising safe cycling by wearing a brightly coloured jersey and cycling close to the shoulder.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating – Intermediate

Distance – 58.7 km

Elevation Gain – 470 km

Maximum Grade – Uphill grade 3.3% at km 19.3 , downhill grade 3.2% at km 52.6 just before you turn south off Twp Rd 292 onto RR 35

Parking –

Park in Madden at the Madden Community Centre just south of the Beaver Dam Golf Course and RV Resort on AB-Hwy 772.

Points of Interest

Heading west the views open up to the Rocky Mountains with gentle rolling hills mainly on smooth pavement. At km 16 you descend and cross the sometimes busy Hwy 22 (Cowboy Trail) after which you will begin a slow and gradual climb to the Water Valley Golf Course which is at the highest elevation and up hill grade in this ride. 

At km 28.9 you will encounter the four way stop in the Town of Water Valley. Just off to the west is the historic Water Valley General Store that is always worth a stop for supplies and washrooms. A good place to pick up some local honey.

As you continue north of Water Valley you will descend steeply into the Little Red Deer River valley. Exercise caution as at the time of writing (Oct, 2016) there was a short gravel section here due to bridge and road repair work being down to repair damage after the 2013 flood. You will cross the river again at km 40.4.

Enjoy the return trip as you wind your way through the industrial town of Cremona while watching for large vehicles, down picturesque RR 35, along the smooth pavement of Twp Road 292 and back to Madden.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘Very long ride, very hilly past Water Valley.’

Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘Such a great ride with little traffic. ’

Expert Road Cyclist – ‘A great training ride. Definitely stop at the General Store in Water Valley and stuff your pockets with candy!’

What to expect from this ride

We love cycling in this area!

This ride is a shorter version of the Madden-Water Valley-Cremona route but still has the thrill of travelling through the open country roads. The ride is rated Intermediate due to the busy 3.9 km section along the Cowboy Trail Hwy 22.  At a distance of just over 50 km, with scenic vistas, gentle grades on good quality paved roads, this route has something for everyone.  The maximum uphill grade is only 3.3% and downhill grade of 3.2%. At the halfway point you pass through the town of Water Valley which is a great spot to experience historic Alberta. Please ride single file on this route and use extreme caution when crossing or travelling along Hwy 22.

This route is one of our favourite rides due to the light traffic, views and road conditions. We have cycled this area on both weekdays and weekends with very little difference in traffic flow and volume. Part of the route is along the ‘super smooth’ asphalt Twp Rd 292 which is a pleasure to ride with plenty of rolling hills to keep even the most hard to please rider interested. The drive to Madden is approximately 30 minutes (42 kms) from the west limits of Calgary. This ride is recommended for calm, warm days. For a longer distance ride in this same area check out the Madden-Water Valley-Cremona route. For a even shorter version check out the Madden – Dog Pound route.

Madden to Dog Pound

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating – Beginner

Distance – 26.4 km

Elevation Gain –190 m

Maximum Grade –  Uphill grade of 2.2% early in the ride and downhill of 2.5% late in the ride (Perfect for Beginners!)

Best Option

Park in Madden at the Madden Community Centre just south of the Beaver Dam Golf Course and RV Resort on AB-Hwy 772.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘Very long ride, very hilly past Water Valley.’

Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘Such a great ride with little traffic. ’

Expert Road Cyclist – ‘A great ride for training for longer rides’.

          

What to expect on this ride

Short on time but want to squeeze a ride in? This is the ride for you. This short distance loop from Madden to Dog Pound and back has a little of everything, some smooth pavement, some rolling hills, some awesome views and very little motor vehicle traffic. This is a perfect ride for Beginner cyclist. At only 26.4 km with a maximum uphill grade of 2.2 % at 4.3 km (early in the ride) and downhill grade of 2.6 % at 21.4 km (late in the ride) makes for a very pleasant country ride which will take you through the Dog Pound area and along Twp Rd 292. This is a great ride for those new to road cycling or those just wanting a short afternoon ride. This ride passes through the community of Dog Pound known for its summer Stampede.

This route is  one of our favourite rides due to the light traffic, views and road conditions. We have cycled this area on both weekdays and weekends with very little difference in traffic flow and volume. Part of this route is along the ‘super smooth’ asphalt Twp Rd 292 which is a pleasure to ride and there are lots of rolling hills. The drive to Madden is approximately 30 minutes (42 kms) from the west limits of the city. This ride is recommended for calm, warm days.

For a longer distance ride in this same area check our the Madden-Water Valley-Cremona route or the Madden-Water Valley-Cremona (Short version).

Madden – Water Valley – Cremona

Note: Ride with GPS map has an error in it..so refer to the manual map above.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating – Intermediate

Distance – 73.0 km

Elevation Gain – 664 m

Maximum Elevation – 1290 m

Maximum Grade –  Uphill grade 3.3% at km 19.3 , downhill grade 4.0% just past Water Valley as you descend into the Little Red Deer River valley

Best Parking Option:

Park in Madden at the Madden Community Centre just south of the Beaver Dam Golf Course and RV Resort on AB-Hwy 772.

Points of Interest:

Heading west the views open up to the Rocky Mountains with gentle rolling hills mainly on smooth pavement. At km 16 you descend and cross the sometimes busy Hwy 22 (Cowboy Trail) after which you will begin a slow and gradual climb to the Water Valley Golf Course which is at the highest elevation and up hill grade in this ride.  Heading west the views open up to the Rocky Mountains with gentle rolling hills mainly on smooth pavement. At km 16 you descend and cross the sometimes busy Hwy 22 (Cowboy Trail) after which you will begin a slow and gradual climb to the Water Valley Golf Course which is at the highest elevation and up hill grade in this ride. 

At km 28.9 you will encounter the four way stop in the Town of Water Valley. Just off to the west is the historic Water Valley General Store that is always worth a stop for supplies and washrooms.

As you continue north of Water Valley you will descend steeply into the Little Red Deer River valley. Exercise caution as at the time of writing (Oct, 2016) there was a short gravel section here due to bridge and road repair work being down to repair damage after the 2013 flood. You will cross the river again at km 40.4.

Enjoy the return trip as you wind your way through the industrial town of Cremona while watching for large vehicles, down picturesque RR 35, along the smooth pavement of Twp Road 292 and back to Madden.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘Very long ride, very hilly past Water Valley.’

 Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘Such a great ride with little traffic. ’           

Expert Road Cyclist – ‘A great ride for training for longer rides’.

What to expect from on this ride

This long but fun route is recommended for Intermediate riders because of the mileage and repetitive hill climbs and descents.  The route has low traffic volumes that keep you off of Highway 22 (except for one short 1.1 km section near Cremona) and a variety of interesting terrain and sites. The maximum uphill grade is only 3.3% and downhill grade of 4.0%. Just before the halfway point you pass through the town of Water Valley which is a great spot to experience historic Alberta with a visit to their general store.

This is one of our favourite rides due to the light traffic, views and road conditions. We have cycled this route on both weekdays and weekends with very little difference in traffic flow and volume. Part of this ride is on the ‘super smooth’ asphalt Twp Rd 292 and there are lots of rolling hills to keep even the most hard to please rider interested. Passing through three historic Alberta towns and one locality, Madden, Dog Pound, Water Valley and Cremona, this ride offers cyclists the opportunity to stop and access facilities.  Please ride single file on this route and use extreme caution when crossing Hwy 22. The drive to Madden is approximately 30 minutes (42 kms) from the west limits of the city. This ride is recommended for calm, warm days. On weekdays watch for industrial traffic near Cremona and along the short Hwy 22 stretch.

A fun pit stop is the Water Valley General Store. Have a relaxing sit on the porch and watch the world turn.

Sundre to Bearberry

Heading South on the 584. A nice long smooth downhill stretch.
The BearBerry Community Hall. This is real ranch country and the General Store, which is right next door to the Community Hall, is popular with the motorcycle crowd.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate due to the distance

Distance: 84.3 km

Estimated time: 4 hours and 15 minutes based on cycling speed of 20 km/hr

Elevation Gain: 670 m

Maximum Elevation: 1276 m

Maximum Grade: 4.1 % downhill at the 35.1 km mark followed by the 5.1 % uphill at the 37.3 km

Best Parking Option: Park in the town of Sundre. Just after crossing the Red Deer River as you enter the town heading west on Hwy 27, turn north on to Centre St N. Park where you can find a spot. Anywhere along this road will do as you will be heading north up Centre St N to start the ride. Do not block driveways.

Points of Interest: The Town of Sundre is worth a visit on your way back.

Amenities: There are washrooms at the Bearberry General Store. Ask the owner for permission before using the facilities.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist: Long, long, long. But Beautiful !

Intermediate Road Cyclist: A great training distance on low motor vehicle traffic roads. Definitely stop in Sundre for a treat after!

Expert Road Cyclist: Some wonderful climbs and descents. Definitely gets the legs working.

What to expect from this ride

This ride passes through some of the most beautiful ranch country in Alberta. It is a bit of a drive from Calgary to Sundre, so get an early start. Sundre is a 112 km drive from Calgary, or about an hour and twenty minutes. We prefer to drive up through Cochrane and Cremona, along the scenic Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22), but you can also head north from Calgary on Hwy 2 north and then head west to Sundre. It is definitely worth the drive. Pick a warm, calm summer day for this ride. Pack a lunch and some layers of clothing and head on out.

Once in Sundre, head north as you wind your way through Sundre and out into the country side. At about the 6.4 km mark head west onto Twp Rd 334. After ~ 18 km along Twp Rd 334 the road will veer north for a short bit. Turn west onto Range Road 72 A (follow the signs to Bearberry). Bearberry is a great pit stop location. If the Bearberry Saloon and Grill is open you could stop here for lunch. This part of the province has an interesting history of First Nations and homesteaders. For more information visit click here.

Continue heading west and follow the winding Hwy 584 all the way until the road is no longer paved which is just before you cross over the Lower Stoney Creek which is a tributary of the Red Deer River. If you peek through the trees you will see the cozy Bearberry Cabins, a year round destination.

This is the turn around point. Head back along Hwy 584. Pass back through Bearberry but this time stay on the 584 and head south. This is a fabulous stretch of road with some fun descents. Enjoy this section!!! Stay on the 584 as it heads west back towards Sundre.

The roads get very busy the closer you get to Sundre so we recommend heading north on the very sleepy Range Road 60 at the McDougal Chapel Missionary Church intersection. Then head east and back the way you left town four hours ago.

We found the motor vehicle traffic extremely light and polite on this road. Giving us lots of room to cycle. Cycle single file for your safety and best to have a rear light on your bike or wear bright clothing.

If you want a slightly shorter ride, omit the out and back section from Bearberry to the Bearberry Cabins. This cuts about 20 km off the length of this ride.

Legacy Trail – Canmore to Banff with Vermillion Lakes extension Out and Back

The Legacy Trail is part of the The Great Trail (previously called the Trans Canada Trail). It is well marked and a dedicated pathway for non-motorized modes of travel between Banff and Canmore. The trail is used by Olympic calibre roller skiers, distance runners/walkers/wheel chair athletes and cyclists of all abilities. You will note the ‘Be Kind to Slower Cyclist’ signs along the route. This past year we have noticed the addition of Max 20 km/hr speed signs.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating – Beginner

Distance – 55.5 km (a shorter option at only 44 km is to exclude the Vermillion Lake extension and turnaround at Banff)

Elevation Gain – 318 m

Maximum Grade – 4.1 % uphill grade on the out trip at Km 5.7 , and 4.8% downhill grade on the return trip at Km 50.2. The location of these relatively steep but very short section grades is at the one and only chicane on this bike pathway.

Parking –

Park in Canmore at the Alberta Visitor Centre. From Calgary head west on the Trans Canada Highway, take exit 86 into Canmore. Just after you cross over the highway on the overpass, make a left turn directly into the Visitor Centre parking lot. The dedicated cyclist parking is adjacent to the Visitor Centre parking lot.

If the Legacy Trail dedicated parking lot is full, head into town and park at the Canmore Recreation Centre (hockey arenas/skate board park). Head south from the Visitor Centre on Hwy 1A, turn on 17 Street, keep right to stay on 17 Street, then turn towards the Canmore Collegiate High School onto 8 Ave. Just past the high school is a huge parking lot. Unload your bikes here, proceed back to the bike path that twins Hwy1A and head back to the start of the Legacy Trail. This adds about 300 m to your ride.

Points of Interest

  1. The town of Banff provides plenty of opportunity to stop for lunch or a coffee break. Our favourite coffee shop, The Whitebark, is along Banff Avenue and a favourite lunch spot is the Wildflour Bakery.
  2. At the turn around point, Vermillion Lakes docks provide opportunity for a rest by the water on hot days. This area is usually very quiet, even when Banff is buzzing with tourists.

Amenities:

There are bright and clean washrooms at the Alberta Visitor Centre which is at the start and end of this ride. There is also a bike tool stand at the Legacy Trail start.

There are pit toilets and a set of the famous Parks Canada ‘red chairs’ at km 9.4.

Banff town offers all amenities.

There are washrooms at Vermillion Lakes.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘A safe way to be introduced to road cycling.’

 Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘Such a great ride with no worries about car traffic but plenty of cyclists to watch out for. ’

 Expert Road Cyclist – ‘Not challenging enough but gave me great access to other Banff based rides’.

Friends stopping for a chat at Vermillion Lakes.

What to expect on this ride

Click here to access Park Canada Legacy Trail information

This ride is perfect for beginner road cyclists, in fact, this would be the best ride to try out a new bike or if you are new to road cycling. It is also a great ride to do in groups especially if you are riding with others with various abilities. While riding here you will encounter many cyclists of all abilities so heed the warnings along the trail to respect slower cyclists and other pathway users. Use caution when overtaking slower riders and although it often feels safe to ride side by side, riding single file is recommended.

The trail starts in Canmore at the dedicated Legacy Trail parking lot. On busy summer weekends this parking lot occasionally fills up, so parking at the Visitor Centre is an alternative option.

As you ride west towards Banff you will almost always be fighting a head wind of varying degrees. Not to worry, your hard work will pay off with a very fast return trip. We have timed ourselves and on a windy day can cut about 10 minutes off our return trip quite easily.

The pathway is well design with gentle grades and curves. Two hazards to watch for are the occasional access gates that keep motor vehicles off the pathway and electric mats to keep wildlife off the highway. Keep an eye out for approaching cyclists when going through these gates as the pathway narrows. Of concern is the one and only curve which is well marked and located at the 5.7 km mark on the out trip. This curve is really only dangerous on the return trip when you have the wind at your back and it is tempting to pick up speed. This chicane is well marked with SLOW painted on the asphalt, signs and fences. Every year Parks Canada seems to add more warning signs. We have seen many experienced cyclist leave the pathway here and crash into the gravel escarpment. If you don’t believe me, ask any Banff or Canmore based paramedic how many call outs there are to this location. Make a mental note of this chicane on your out trip…and do slow down on your return.

The turn around point of this out and back ride is Vermillion Lakes. Vermillion Lakes is a little oasis of calm and serenity just outside of the very busy Banff townsite. You will often see artists with easels painting and wedding parties taking photos here. Take a moment to relax if you are so inclined. If not, make a quick U-turn and see how fast you can make your return trip back to Canmore.

Cyclist at the Canmore Legacy Trail trailhead. There is a bike tool station here.

Road to Nepal

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating – Intermediate

Distance – 48.2 Km pan handle loop

Elevation Gain – 446 m

Maximum Elevation – 1301 m

Maximum Grade –  Uphill 5.7% at km 12, Descent 3.1% at km 41.2 

Best Parking Option

At the corner of 37 St SW and 226 Ave W (~ 5.1 km’s south of the Best Parking Option so cuts 10 km’s off the ride distance). Please note: Now that the Hwy 22X construction is complete there is no longer access via 37th Street which is now a dead end road.

Points of Interest  

At about 13.5 km enjoy a steep descent and look up and take in the peak the breathtaking mountain view.

At the Junction 549 and 112 St W there is a vehicle pullout ideal for taking a break and soak in the view of the rolling foothills and farmland.

Amenities :

Please note that there are limited facilities along this route so come prepared with enough food and fluids and plan your bio break before you park.

Road Surface Condition :

Mainly smooth asphalt although there are some pot holes and patches of loose gravel. Hwy 549 is the only section that has a narrow 2-foot shoulder, painted lines and chip seal. Light traffic volumes on week days, slightly heavier on weekends.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘Wow, this was a tough ride but I really felt a sense of accomplishment when I was done.’

Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘This was a very pleasant afternoon ride. I wish we would have done it in the morning when it was cooler!’

Expert Road Cyclist – ‘An easy 1 ½ hour early morning training ride, I was home in time to make breakfast for my family!’

What to expect from this ride

This delightful ride through the rolling foothills south of Calgary is a ‘must do’ ride on a calm day in spring, summer or fall. Generally, the traffic volume on these roads is light. We have cycled this route many times and only encountered a dozen or so vehicles. One does, however, need to be cautious because on one occasion we ran across a very irate driver of a large truck. Luckily he was only throwing insults, not anything tangible!

 This ride is very popular with the bike club crowd and at just under 50 km’s it can be done in a morning so that you are back home for your afternoon lunch and coffee. There are some challenging hill climbs and thrilling descents on this route and thus we rate it as an intermediate ride. We recommend doing this ride in a counterclockwise direction, at least for your first kick at this route. That way the maximum uphill grade you encounter will be 5.7 % and will be in the first third of the ride. Then there is a thrilling descent with a scenic west mountain view , followed by a flat section to allow your legs to recover before hitting the next section of hill climbs and descents.

This is one of our favourite rides and we highly recommend it.

Allen Bill to Forget me not Pond

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating – Intermediate due to the steep grades…not due to distance

Distance – 38.3 Km out and back

Elevation Gain -598 m

Peak Elevation – 1739 m

Best Parking Option

Allen Bill. From the town of Bragg Creek continue south along Hwy 22, turn right (west) on AB-66. Turn into the Allen Bill parking area.  There are outhouses at this parking area.

Maximum Grade – Uphill 8.9% at km 12.8, Descent 9.9% at km 25.8

Points of Interest

From December through May the road is closed to motor vehicle traffic west of Elbow Falls at approximately km 8.8. There will be a gate across the road, which will force you to get off your bike and slide your bike under the railing. Road closure information updates are available from Alberta Parks.

There are many pullout spots along this road with interesting interpretive signs regarding information about the areas history. They are worth a stop if you need a break.

At km 19.2 you will arrive at the destination, Forget-me-not Pond. Explore the interpretive trails around the pond if you need a rest before heading back. There are outhouses at the picnic area parking lot.

Road Conditions

Mainly smooth asphalt throughout the route but there are sections of rumble strips that separate the shoulder from the main road. Shoulder width varies from 1 to 3 feet. Use caution when the road is open to motor vehicles as this is a popular route for motorcyclists and recreational vehicles. If the weather cooperates, it is worth it to do this ride before the road opens to motor vehicle traffic as cyclists will have the road to them selves and can enjoy the steep descents without being confined to the shoulders. Note that the pavement surface generally varies from smooth asphalt in the shoulders to chip seal on the main road. Watch out for domestic and wild animals on this route. This route can be very windy and subject to quick weather changes so come prepared.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘Too many hills but loved having no traffic to worry about.’

Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘The perfect ride to prepare me for the cycling season.’

Expert Road Cyclist – ‘Fun ride to do even when the road is open to traffic. I would like to extend this ride by parking in Bragg Creek next time.’

What to expect on this ride

The Allen Bill to Forget-me-not Pond ride is a great early season ride away from traffic as part of this route is closed to motor vehicles most years from December to May 14 (Hwy 66 West of Elbow Falls & the Powderface Trail). The first 8.8 km’s of this ride is however open to traffic year round but traffic volumes are not heavy in early season and drivers seem respectful of cyclists. By May 15 the whole route is open to traffic and is a popular camping and hiking area so use caution during the summer months.

This out and back route has stunning views of the Alberta Foothills with steep climbs and thrilling descents. Your hard work will be rewarded at the pleasant rest stop at Forget-me-not Pond at the halfway point.  Watch for rough patches and gravel in the shoulders and ride single file when the road is open to motor vehicle traffic. When the road is closed enjoy the open road and ride as you will (of course be on the look out for wildlife and domestic animals on the road). On one early April ride we spooked some horses that likely hadn’t seen much in the way of traffic on the road since December!

The Alberta Foothills can be extremely windy and subject to sudden weather changes. Although there is a steep descent into Forget-me-not Pond you may find yourself having to pedal downhill against the strong winds! The bonus is that you will have the strong wind at your back on the return trip that will make you feel like Superman on the uphill climb!

This is a great early season (before June) ride if you like the road to your self, otherwise be aware of traffic especially recreational vehicles June to November. This route boasts steep hills so rated as Intermediate.  The only draw back to this ride is that it is a bit of a drive from the Calgary city limits but gives you the opportunity to stop for an ice cream or coffee in Bragg Creek on your way home. The Cinnamon Spoon in Bragg Creek is our recommendation.

Banff to Lake Louise

Banff to Lake Louise: Start of Bow Valley Parkway
One of the many views along the Parkway
Ice cream stop at Johnston Canyon

Summer/Fall 2020: Part of this route is closed to motor vehicle traffic this year which provides a unique opportunity to cycle the Bow Valley Parkway without any motor vehicle traffic. Check the Parks Canada website before heading out.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating –  Intermediate. The majority of this ride has grades less than 2%, and as an out and back you can always turn back at any point. It is a nice gradual uphill ride but just 5 km out from Lake Louise there is a steep uphill grade to the turn off to Lake Louise, then a steep downhill grade into town.

Distance – 111 km out and back

Elevation Gain – 993 m

Maximum Elevation – 1607 m

Maximum Grade –9.5% down hill grade  on the out trip at 21.3 km and up hill grade of 6.9% at km 56.9

Maximum Elevation – 1607 m just before the descent into Lake Louise

Best Parking Option

Park at the first available parking area on Vermilion Lakes road. To get to Vermilion Lakes Road, take the Norquay access into Banff off of  Hwy 1, then make the first right turn. A valid Parks Canada pass is required to park.

Alternative Parking

Park along the Bow Valley Parkway at the Edith Pass road. To get there continue along Hwy 1 past Banff and take the Bow Valley Parkway exit. Take the first opportunity to turn off to the right and park. This will shorten the route by 11 km. Banff to Lake Louise Century ride (100 Km) here we come!!

PLEASE NOTE: Depending upon how busy the day is and whether or not the Parkway is closed to vehicles, you can access appropriate parking by checking the banffparking.ca website. For example there is 12 hour free parking at the Fenlands site just adjacent to the Vermillion Lakes road which connects cyclists to the Bow Valley Parkway.

Amenities

Washrooms are available  a short distance from the parking spot along Vermillion Lakes Road and at the Lake Louise Visitor Centre at the turnaround point. Washrooms can also be found all along the Parkway at trailheads and at Johnston Canyon.

Points of Interest  

There are eleven ‘point of interest’ pull outs along this route, three with picnic tables, so there are lots of opportunities to stop and learn about the unique geological history of the area.

The road splits at km 74.0 and again at km 90.4 on the return trip to divert around geological features. This is our favourite stretch on this route. You will know what we mean once you experience this on your own.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – We could turn back whenever we got tired and with the slower motor vehicle traffic speed we felt comfortable.

Intermediate Road Cyclist –  A great ride with great views.  

Expert Road Cyclist – Great training ride. Didn’t bother descending into Lake Louise and turned back for a nice morning ride.

What to expect from this ride

A capstone ride  is the iconic Banff to Lake Louise Bow Valley Parkway. The total cycling distance on this out and back ride is 111 km from the Vermilion Lakes parking area. The views are stunning and you may encounter wildlife along the way. We have seen both grizzly bears and black bears which is a very different experience when you are on a bike!! Watch for a line of cars stopped on the road, this usually means a wildlife spotting. Many cyclists carry bear spray however you can almost eliminate the probability of having to use bear spray if you grab a few friends and make this a group ride.

The Bow Valley Parkway is recommended for a mid-week shoulder season trip when motor vehicle traffic is lighter, however, we know a cyclist who does this route every Saturday morning and avoids the heavy traffic by getting an early start.  Keep in mind that the Bow Valley Parkway is a seasonal road and has a voluntary closure from March 1 to June 25 from 6-9 pm from Banff to Johnson Canyon to accommodate wildlife.  Check the Parks Canada website before heading out. The benefits of this ride are the views, smooth pavement and low speed vehicle traffic. In addition, the elevation gain on your way in is greater than on your way out so your return trip will be easier on the legs.  Always plan for changing weather, even on clear sunny days. Ride in a group due to wild life concerns, ride single file and wear high visibility clothing. The speed limit on this road is 60 km/hr and we have generally found the motor vehicle  drivers very respectful of cyclists. 

 Use caution cycling past the Johnston Canyon area as there are  often parked motor vehicles lining the road and pedestrians. We recommend cycling into the town of Lake Louise  and taking a break in town. If you do proceed into town, remember that there are Texas gates that cross the road on the descent into Lake Louise. I forgot about these on one of my trips and on the fast descent into Lake Louise  road right over them. No harm was done but I would not recommend riding top speed over the rails! Alternatively, experienced riders that don’t need a break  may choose to turn back when you get to Whitehorn Drive (Lake Louise ski area road)  at the km 55 mark. This only cuts about 2.5 km’s out of the ride so always a great option.

This ride is highly recommended for all intermediate and experienced road cyclists. 

 

Mountain View – Bearspaw to Cochrane Out and Back

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating – Beginner for shorter route, Intermediate with add on.

Distance – 44.1 Km out and back (with short loop near the end), 52.3 km with Cochrane hill alternative extension for Intermediate and Expert riders

Elevation Gain – 312 m, 507m with Cochrane Hill

Maximum Elevation – 1341 m

Maximum Grade –  Beginner ride 4.1% Max up hill grade at  19.6km , 4.8% Max downhill grade at 43.8 km, Intermediate/Expert 6.3 % downhill and 7.3 % uphill on the Cochrane Hill. 

Best Parking Option

Park at the side of the road just as you turn off of 12 Mile Coulee Road and on to Nagway Road.  We do not recommend parking at the Bearspaw Lions Hall and note that in the summer months the Bearspaw Farmers Market makes this area congested on Sunday’s until about 2pm.

Points of Interest  

After turning west onto Twp Rd 262, the views open up to the Rocky Mountains with challenging but rather gentle rolling hills. After travelling 3.3 km west  you will cross Lochend Road which can be busy so be mindful of traffic. There is a small pullout at this intersection if you need a break.

Travel the short 2.2 km gravel section, (yes I said gravel…but the view is worth it…walk your bike if you are sensitive to riding skinny tires on gravel) west again along Big Hill Road (appropriately named!) and you will be treated to a spectacular view of the town of Cochrane and the Rocky Mountains. Great photo stop! Experienced riders have the option to continue down into Cochrane at this point. See alternative add on to this route.

On the way back south on Bearspaw Road you will turn east into Church Ranches and enjoy a beautiful short down hill section winding through the estate homes dotted with wetlands in this development before heading back to your car parked on Nagway Road.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘I felt very comfortable riding here due to hardly any traffic’

Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘A great ride for a quick out and back after work.’

Expert Road Cyclist – ‘Eliminated the gravel portion at the end and did Cochrane hill instead’.

What to expect from this ride

This short but fun route recommended for all Beginner riders has low traffic volumes and keeps you off of busy Highway 1A. An easy, gentle, rolling ride has a maximum uphill grade is only 4.1%.  At the halfway point, Intermediate riders can extend the ride by venturing down the hill into the town of Cochrane. Your downhill skills will come in handy and you will be challenged to a leg burning trek back up Cochrane Hill (bragging rights are earned!). See Alternative route details.

This route makes a great early season ride. Please ride single file on this route. The convenience of this ride is that it is a short drive from the city limits so lends itself well to an evening weekday or early Saturday morning. Not recommended on Sunday mornings due to increased traffic due to the Bearspaw Farmers Market.

Big Hill Springs Out and Back

Look at that Alberta sky!!! June, 2020 Bearspaw Rd

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating – Beginner

Distance – 44.2 Km out and back

Elevation Gain – 472 m

Peak Elevation – 1309 m

Maximum Grade – Uphill 5.4% at km 20,  Descent 5.7% at km 25

Best Parking Option

Take HWY 1A towards Cochrane, turn right (north) off HWY 1A at Bearspaw Road, then make an immediate right onto Nagway Rd. Take the first left onto Hamilton Dr, then left onto Sigurdson Bay, park at the end of the road. Do not block any driveways.

Alternatively, park anywhere along Nagway Rd. It is not recommended to park at the Bearspaw Lions Hall parking lot, as it is private property. There is a Sunday Farmers Market at the Bearspaw Lions Hall so parking may be limited in the area when the market is open.

Points of Interest

At 9.3 km, the corner of Lochend Road,  there is a pullout which makes for a safe stopping point. At time of writing some construction work was taking place at this pullout (Summer 2020) so use caution.

The west bound section on the way out from Lochend Road to the Big Hill Springs Trail is an example of Alberta country side with beautiful rolling hills, mountain vistas and farms dotted with working oil pump jacks.

Your destination is Big Hill Springs Provincial Park! There is a small spring here that makes for a nice spot to stop and picnic.

Road Conditions

Mainly smooth asphalt although there are some patches of rough pavement and patches of loose gravel. Shoulder width varies from 1 to 4 feet, with painted lines and chip seal. Use caution as this route has medium traffic volumes even on weekdays with some large trucks on Lochend Road and Hwy 567.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘Too many hills and the traffic scared me.’

Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘This was a good morning ride. Keep alert due to variable pavement and shoulder widths.’

Expert Road Cyclist – ‘Very easy ride good for early season training.’

Approaching the major intersection of Lochend Road and Highway 567. Exercise caution.

What to expect on this ride

This quick ride is suitable for a morning or early afternoon that takes you through the rolling hills of the Bearspaw area with a destination stop at the Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. Expect fun descents and uphill sections dotted with acreage properties where farms once hailed.

Traffic volumes are usually light for the first 9.3 km of this ride until you turn north onto Lochend Road (AB-766) where traffic volumes sometimes pick up and there may be some large trucks. Use caution and ride single file.  I have a love-hate relationship with this ride…if traffic volumes are low, it is a wonderful ride, the opposite being true when there are large trucks on the road. Beware the multiple sets of rumble strips as you approach the stop sign at the Lochend Rd and AB-567 intersection. Use extreme caution at this intersection. Take a moment to look around when riding the west bound section along the AB-567 just before you turn south onto Big Hill Springs Trail. There you will view the Alberta countryside with beautiful rolling hills, mountain vistas to the west and farms dotted with working oil pump jacks. Big Hill Springs Trail is a delightful 2 km of smooth pavement with very,very low traffic volumes. There are two cattle gates to cross just prior to entering the park so be prepared to dismount and walk your bike carefully across. Once in the park the road and parking lot are gravel however at the time of writing this review, Alberta Parks is upgrading the parking area (Summer 2020). Park amenities are outhouses and picnic tables . Enjoy a short rest before heading back on this out and back route.

This is a great early season ride close to the city.  Be aware of traffic and use caution at all intersections especially when turning onto Big Hill Springs Trail and ride single file. Strong winds can be experienced in this area.

Sundre Timber Trail With Optional Extension on the Burnt Timber Road

Route

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating – Beginner for short loop, Intermediate with the optional extension

Distance – 49.2 km circle route, option for an additional 44.0 km out and back

Elevation Gain – 255 m,  option for an additional 491 m

Maximum Grade –  Beginner ride 2.8 % maximum up hill grade at 45.2 km followed by the 2.5 % maximum downhill grade at 46.8 km. The optional out and back has a maximum uphill grade of 5.2% at the 20 km mark.

Best Parking Option – Park at the corner of Range Road 53A and Twp Road 305A.  Pull well off the road.

Points of Interest  

After travelling east on Twp Road 322 you will pass by Davidson Provincial Park with washroom and picnic amenities.

The Bergen Corner Store is located at the corner of Twp Road 322 and AB 760 . At time of writing this store was closed for renovation but soon will make a good pit stop location. Heading north on AB 760 will be the only busy section on this route.

To lengthen this ride, instead of continuing west on Twp Road 310, when you are  0.8 km east of the parking spot, turn south on Range Road 53 which is 48.4 km from the start of this ride. From Range Road 53 turn west on Twp Road 304 (Burnt Timber Road or Shell Gas Plant Road). This add on section of the ride is an out and back so ride as long as you like and turn around and return to your vehicle. This option adds 44 km to the ride.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘Gentle hills with smooth pavement, low traffic volumes which were great.’

  Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘A fun ride with the option for extension, beautiful views.’

Expert Road Cyclist – “Appreciated the option for more km’s’ .

What to expect on this ride

No steep grades, low traffic volumes and scenic countryside; this beginner ride has it all. This loop route is just shy of 50 km so the perfect distance for an early morning or late afternoon ride.  A maximum uphill grade of only 2.8% makes this a pleasant relaxing ride along a wild rose lined corridor and hobby farms…watch for the peaceful llamas on route! When you have almost completed this ride and if you still have ‘legs’ and want to get in some additional kilometres,  head south on RR 53 and then west on Twp Rd 304 and you will be treated to a smooth, high quality paved road with good shoulders, low traffic volumes and stunning views heading into the foothills. The optional extension is an out and back  to the Shell Burnt Timber meter station so there may be the occasional large truck on this route but generally there is very little traffic on weekends.

Ride single file on this route especially along AB 760 going north towards Sundre. This short stretch of the route can get busy and has a very narrow shoulder. The route is well worth the  drive from the Calgary city limits.  On Saturday mornings during the summer check out the Farmers Market mid route at the Bergen Community Center. This would make a nice side trip to head to after your ride. The road to the Bergen Community Center is gravel so not recommended as part of the ride if you concerned about your skinny tires. 

Burnt Timbre road….a nicely paved, low volume road with a relatively wide shoulder.

         

Four Hills of Banff

Map includes distance markers (in white) from the Cascade Pond parking area. Points of interest are labelled 1-4. Look at those switch backs up the Mt. Norquay road!

Ride Statistics

Mt Norquay road has been recently paved so it is a nice smooth ride up the six switch backs. Watch for mountain goats on this steep road.

Ride Difficulty Rating – Intermediate and Expert

Elevation Gain – 848 m

Distance – 49.7 Km combination of loops and out and back routes

Maximum Elevation – 1698 m (End of the road at Norquay ski hill of course!)

Maximum Grade – Uphill 8.4% at km 40.8 (near the Banff Centre), Descent 9.3% at km 29.8 (Bottom of Norquay hill as you approach the Texas Gate!!)

Best Parking Option

Cascade Ponds Parking area. As you approach Banff from the east on Hwy 1, take the first Banff exit, make an immediately right hand turn toward Lake Minnewanka, and then another immediate right into the Cascade Ponds parking area.  There are outhouses and picnic table at this parking area. Note: You need a valid Parks Canada pass.

Points of Interest (labelled on the map above)

1. The first 13 km loop is the Lake Minnewanka loop, which can be done in either direction. We recommend going counterclockwise on your first time but do try the other direction the next time as the view and experience is different. Take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful view of Two Jack Lake at km 7. This 13 km loop has been part of the Banff Triathlon and Gran Fondo routes. This is an 88 m elevation gain reaching the peak at the 6.5 km mark of this 13 km loop.

2. The second hill is the Norquay Mountain out and back climb. At km 23.7 (the sixth and last switch back before reaching the parking area at the top) there is a look out point with a view of the Banff town site and Vermillion Lakes that is worth stopping for a rest. This is a 302 m elevation gain over 5.5 kms.

3. The third assent is up to the historic Banff Hot Springs and Sulphur Mountain Gondola. This is an 183 m elevation gain over 3.5 kms.

4. Finally, you will climb up to the Banff Centre, which hosts many cultural events and conferences after which you will pass by the Hoodoos and Tunnel Mountain campground. This is a 95 m elevation gain over a short 1.2 km assent from town reaching the peak at the Banff Centre.

Road Conditions

Mainly smooth asphalt throughout the route. There is no shoulder for most of the route with the exception of the 6-foot shoulder along the Trans Canada Highway section.  The Lake Minnewanka loop can be windy at times. Although this ride will likely not be doable early in the season, note that part of the Minnewanka Loop is closed until the end of April and definitely wait until after the Norquay ski hill is closed for the season to avoid heavy skier traffic on that section.   Watch for Texas  gates at the bottom of both the Lake Minnewanka loop and Norquay hill. We recommend getting off and walking your bike across  if you feel comfortable. If not, look to the ditches and there are crossings with gates  that you can walk your bike through. My preference for sure as balancing on the rails in cycling shoes can be tricky!!  Watch out for wild animals  on the route. We have seen mountain sheep on the Minnewanka Loop and Norquay road almost every time we have tested this  route.

Comments from our test riders:
Beginner Road Cyclist – ‘Didn’t feel comfortable doing the Norquay hill so eliminated this one from the route’

Intermediate Road Cyclist – ‘Great for hill training. Very thrilling descents.’

Expert Road Cyclist – ‘Love this ride. My favourite ride ever!’

On the way up the Mt Norquay switch backs…still a long way up! No time to celebrate just yet. Aug 27, 2017

What to expect on this ride

This incredible route is recommended for all Intermediate and Expert riders. We have combined the four major climbs in the Banff area into one thrilling ride, which can be done accessing relatively quiet roads weekdays and during  shoulder seasons. The roads are all in very good condition and motor vehicle traffic generally respects the cyclist on these lower speed limit secondary and Banff town roads.  There is one short section along the Trans Canada Highway to provide you with a sample of what it is like to travel in the park on this major road. If you are really adverse to this option you can avoid this section by accessing part of the Legacy Trail and going through the town site to access the Norquay Road. Some of our test riders were reluctant to travel on the Trans Canada Highway but if you are ever going to do it, this is the place as the shoulder is very wide and smooth along the double-lane divided highway. 

There are many look out points with stunning vistas that are worth stopping at as well as having the option to stop in Banff at any of the fine coffee shops easily accessible from this route after you have finished the Norquay hill and descend right into the heart of Banff. Our favourite coffee shop is the WhiteBark on Banff Avenue. You will pass by many iconic Banff cultural sites like the Banff Hot Springs, Banff Parks Office and Banff Centre to name a few. Traffic volumes are light but in the peak of the summer season watch for recreational vehicles especially near the Tunnel Mountain campground. As always, bring layers as the mountain parks can be subject to sudden weather changes. This ride has so much to offer we just can’t say enough other than ‘do it!’.  

This is a great shoulder (May-June, Sept-Oct) season ride if you like tough climbs and thrilling descents along with beautiful views.  Everyone earns bragging rights after completing this ride. This route is rated Expert due to steep switch back descents on the Norquay section. The only draw back to this ride is that it is a bit of a drive from the Calgary city limits and requires a Parks Canada pass.

You always have the option of just doing the ‘Three’ Hills of Banff…if you don’t have the legs or time for all four. We won’t tell.

The view from the rest stop at the top of Mt. Norquay Road. A beautiful view of the town of Banff.

Lake Louise to Waterfowl Lake Out and Back

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Beautiful Bow Lake. May, 2016
This is an out and back ride starting at Lake Louise. Points of interest labelled 1-3.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating –  Expert due to the distance and elevation gain and grade up to and down Bow Summit

Distance – 120.7 km out and back Elevation Gain – 1309 m

Maximum Grade –7.1% down hill grade  on the out trip descending from Bow Summit at 44 km and up hill grade of 7.3% on the return trip at Bow Summit at 76 km Maximum Elevation – 2071m at Bow Summit 

Best Parking Option

Park at the Lake Louise Visitor Centre just past the four-way stop as you enter Lake Louise.  Cycle west onto Village Road approx. 800 m, then left onto Sheol Road  and use the pedestrian over-pass and dedicated pathway to get to Hwy 93 (Icefields Parkway).  A valid Parks pass is required to park.

Amenities

Washrooms at the Lake Louise Visitor Centre. The Visitor Centre is undergoing renovations summer 2019. Parks Canada has provided a temporary Visitor Centre in trailers in the parking lot.

Many picnic spots and campgrounds with out houses along the route.

Food at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. (Closed summer 2020 due to COVID, it appears as though it will be open summer 2021 but best to check the website before you go)

Campground at the turnaround point, Waterfowl Lakes.

Points of Interest  (labelled on map above )

1. Herbert Lake at Km 5.6. Ideal picnic  spot and views of the Main Range peaks. Bring out your camera!

2. Num-Ti-Jah Lodge has a small gift and coffee shop open May – Oct at Km 38 (Note: Closed 2020 due to ‘you know what!’). This historic log and stone lodge on the shores of Bow Lake was completed in 1950 by the Simpson family.

3. Bow Summit and Peyto Lake lookout at Km 42.9. Iconic views. Note: these sites and more can always be visited on the return trip.

Comments from our test riders:

Beginner Road Cyclist – A long, long day but awesome ride with lots of opportunity for rest stops. More traffic than I am used to.  

Intermediate Road Cyclist –  A good highway ride with smooth shoulders.  

Expert Road Cyclist – We kept going to add some distance.

Num-ti-jah Lodge. A part of Alberta’s history.

What to expect on this ride

Many road cyclists (including us!) recommend the 235 km Lake Louise to Jasper multi-day road cycle but many find it difficult to find the time or a weather window for a three-day mountain journey. The first leg of this ride, Lake Louise to Waterfowl Lake,  is recommended as an alternative  one-day ‘teaser’ trip.  At the time of writing, Hwy 93N is being upgraded with wider and smoother shoulders which makes road cycling much more pleasant than in the past.  Construction work has been completed from Lake Louise to Waterfowl Lake. Beyond this point, the shoulders can be rough and narrow.

Hwy 93N, also known as the Ice Fields Parkway,  is called ‘one of the most scenic roads in the world’ according to Parks Canada. We can attest not only to the beauty of the area but  also the opportunity it provides for excellent road cycling adventures. The 121 km out and back ride will take you up and over Bow Summit Pass (Elev 2067m) and down to Water fowl Lake (Elev 1687 m). There are numerous scenic side trip stops along the way, the most scenic being a short diversion up to the picturesque Peyto Lake viewing area. Probably one of the most photographed lakes in Canada, but seeing it is even better!!

Lake Louise to Waterfowl Lakes makes a great mid-week shoulder season trip  when motor vehicle traffic is lighter.  If you can catch good weather in late May or early June this is an ideal time to go. Always plan for changing weather, even on clear sunny days. When we did this route  in late May, 2016 we encountered  sprinkles of snow at Peyto Lake  on an otherwise beautiful cycling weather day.  Traffic volumes generally get lighter by mid afternoon to early evening on this route.   Ride single file  and wear high visibility clothing.  If planning side trips off the highway use extreme caution when crossing the highway. This  route is definitely worth the time and energy. You are now ready to plan your multi-day Lake Louise to Jasper trek!

Riding single file up the Icefields Parkway. Riding late in the day warrants wearing high visibility clothing. Look at how the middle rider in this group stands out wearing a bright solid colour.