The Legacy trail (26Km one way) has transformed cycling between Canmore and Banff. A beautiful paved trail, all be it, alongside the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) makes for an enjoyable ride between these two mountain towns and beyond.
Previously the alternatives were to ride the shoulders of the TCH, the Banff Trail off the end of the Canmore Nordic Centre, or Goat Creek trail.
To access it from the Canmore end:
Ride along Bow Valley Trail (Hwy 1A) cross the TCH, and ride west on the paved bike path beside the Harvey Heights road. At the end of the HH Road take the Access bridge back across the TCH and ride the shoulder against the traffic, 2km, to the Park gate and the start of the Legacy Trail proper. There are parking areas close to Harvey Heights along the access road that some use to stage for the ride. Another parking spot is right at the Banff Park gates between the Eastbound and Westbound lanes. Access to the Trail from here itself is sketchy at best.
This summer (2013)the trail should extended and connected to Canmore along the South side of the TCH so you won't have to ride against traffic.
The trail itself is smooth, rolling, and can be narrow at bridge crossings. There is a rest area with washrooms and picnic tables 1/3 of the way to Banff from the East end. The trail itself is multipurpose so you will have hikers, runners, roller skiers, rollerbladers as well as bikes on the trail.
Nearing the Banff end, at the wildlife gates, you can ride under the highway a short 1 km to Cascade Ponds with picnic tables and washrooms. From there you can connect to the Minnewanka Lake road and ride a great loop up to the lake and by Two Jack lake. (Clockwise is the best way to ride this loop)
Staying on the Legacy Tr. you enter Banff riding adjacent to the road on a paved trail. You end on the main drag (Banff Ave.) along a bike lane. With some route finding, you can access the Vermillion Lake Trails on the other side of Banff which will then connect you to the 1A Highway all the way to Lake Louise.
The prevailing winds are west to east so depending on the day, expect some wind if you come from Canmore. However riding Banff to Canmore is downhill and usually with the wind. There are shuttles available to take you back to whichever town you started.
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