The Canadian Rockies are a great place to create lasting memories with your kids. There are so many kid-friendly things to do in Banff and Kananaskis among the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Many families come to Banff for some easy hiking, but there are also many kid-friendly bike trails in Banff and Kananaskis.
Below we share our 7 favorite kid-friendly bike trails in Banff and Kananaskis. You’ll find a wide variety of biking trails, trail surfaces and scenery. As a bonus, many of these easy Banff & Kananaskis bike trails have an option to add an easy hike to your family outing.
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1. Cycling Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon
To create space for visitors during the pandemic, Parks Canada has closed the Bow Valley Parkway to vehicle traffic south of Castle Junction.
This rare road closure creates a once-in-a-lifetime kid-friendly bike ride for families visiting Banff. The Johnston Canyon hike is usually one of the most crowded attractions in Banff, but you can now visit it in near isolation by biking to the trailhead.
If you take your family on this highly enjoyable Banff bike ride, be sure to stop and hike Johnston Canyon. It’s a completely different experience without the hordes of people. Johnston Canyon is beautiful no matter what circumstances, but to enjoy it with a bit of serenity is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Do this amazing kid-friendly bike trail in Banff while you can!
Distance: The bike ride is 13km total (6.5km each way). The hike to the Johnston Canyon Lower Falls is 2.4km return, while the Upper Falls are 5km return.
Location: There is a medium sized parking lot found at Castle Junction. It fills up early, even on weekdays, so arrive early.
Difficulty: It took our 4 & 6 year old kids just over an hour to bike to Johnston Canyon and another hour back. There is almost no net elevation gain/loss between Castle Junction and Johnston Canyon, but there are several long, gradual inclines, which may be hard for small legs or kids on single-gear bikes.
- Banff’s wildlife is loving the reduced number of visitors and are roaming areas they would typically shy away from. Even with vehicle traffic, the Bow Valley Parkway is one of the best spots in Banff to view wildlife. Without vehicle traffic, the wildlife is more comfortable near the highway. We had a black bear cross the highway during our first visit.
- The Bow Valley Parkway is not completely vehicle-free during this time. Parks Canada vehicles and road construction trucks may occasionally pass by. Guests of the Johnston Canyon Bungalows are also allowed on this stretch of road. Vehicles are not common, but be aware of your kids location at all times.
- Washrooms are found in the Johnston Canyon parking lot.
- The restaurant is open at the Johnston Canyon Bungalows. They offer coffee, snacks and more to treat the kids for their good effort getting there.
- There are benches all along the Johnston Canyon trail.
- If you prefer to reward good effort at the end of your family bike ride, the Castle Mountain Chalets has a general store.
2. Banff Legacy Trail
The Banff Legacy Trail is an incredibly fun & scenic kid-friendly bike ride between Canmore to Banff. Built to honor Banff National Park’s 125th anniversary, the Banff Legacy Trail is one of our favorite things to do in Banff.
Along the way on this family-friendly bike ride you’ll glide through dense forests speckled with beautiful wildflowers, pass beaver dammed mountain streams and maybe see a deer or an Osprey. Yes, you’ll also parallel the TransCanada highway for much of it, but the Canadian Rockies scenery is so spectacular, you’ll barely notice the traffic.
The Banff Legacy Trail links up with a few additional kid-friendly bike trails to become the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail, for a full one-way length of 26.8km. This distance may be too long for small kids on single gear bikes, but there are plenty of entry points which allow for shorter distances.
Distance: The Banff Legacy Trail is officially 22.3km long (one-way), but it can be extended to 26.8km if you ride the full Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail.
Location: There are several access points to the Banff Legacy Trail bike ride:
- Travel Alberta Visitor Information Centre (Canmore)
- Valleyview Day Use Area (Banff National Park – Hwy 1 Eastbound)
- Cascade Ponds (Banff National Park)
- Town of Banff (no parking here)
Difficulty: Considering this bike trail is in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, it is surprisingly flat. Leaving from Canmore, you’ll only gain approximately 250m of net elevation on your bike ride to Banff, most of which is over long, almost imperceptible uphill stretches. There are, of course, a some short, steeper hills to contend with, but these are generally manageable.
With the elevation gain, the bike ride to Banff is the more difficult direction, especially if there is a wind coming from the west (as there often is). The bike ride from Banff to Canmore, by comparison, is mostly a gentle downhill, making it quite easy, with only a few uphill sections to deal with.
Riding the Banff Legacy Trail One-Way:
- Take your bikes on the Roam Bus Route 3 from Canmore to Banff and enjoy the mostly downhill bike ride to Canmore. Please be aware that bike storage space on the Roam bus is very limited and shouldn’t be counted on. Read the Roam Bike Policy before heading out.
- An alternate, independent strategy is to park the family car at Cascade Ponds near the Town of Banff and enjoy the easy bike ride to Canmore as a family. Then, while the rest of the family enjoys pancakes at Craig’s Way Station, one parent rides their bike back to Cascade Ponds to get the car.
Kid-friendly sections of the Banff Legacy Trail: If you are looking for a smaller, kid-friendly section of the Banff Legacy Trail, try the following areas:
- Starting from Canmore, the first 3km of the Banff Legacy Trail is very flat and runs through a beautiful, dense forest.
- The Valleyview Day Use area is a popular place for families to stop, have a picnic and go for a short bike ride on the Banff Legacy Trail.
- The section from the Cascade Ponds heading towards Canmore is also reasonably flat and runs alongside a nice mountain stream.
- There is a large, dedicated parking lot for the Banff Legacy Trail at the Canmore Travel Alberta Visitor Information Centre.
- Parking is limited at the Valleyview Day Use area as well as the Cascade Ponds.
- There are picnic tables and toilets at the Canmore Visitor Center, the Valleyview Day Use picnic area and Cascade Ponds.
- E-bikes are permitted on the Banff Legacy Trail
3. Sundance Canyon Bike & Hike
The Sundance Canyon is a super-fun Banff family activity which has a little bit of everything. It begins at the historic Cave & Basin with a 4km easy bike ride on a paved trail through the forest and alongside the beautiful Bow River. The mountain views across the water are spectacular in all directions.
Lock up your bikes at the Sundance Canyon trailhead and begin your 2.3km hike. Almost immediately, the raging waterfalls of the Sundance Creek will have jaws dropping. Your kids will love crossing the bridges at the bottom and the top of this magnificent Banff waterfall.
Past the waterfall, the hiking trail continues through a magical forest carpeted with dense emerald moss deeper into the Sundance Canyon. After 0.7km of hiking you’ll have the option to turn back and follow the Sundance Creek back or continue the loop into the forest. Although the forest isn’t nearly as showy as the Sundance Canyon, it’s still very beautiful with lots of emerald moss and Rocky Mountain wildflowers.
On the bike ride back to the Cave & Basin, we recommend taking the Marsh Trail. This is a groomed, dirt trail which can get a bit muddy and horse poopy, but it’s worth the minor challenges. The Marsh Trail bike ride continues along the banks of the Bow River, allowing bike riders to enjoy the incredible scenery just a little longer. The Marsh Trail conveniently ends at the Cave & Basin parking lot.
Distance: The distance of the Sundance Canyon bike ride is 8km total (4km each way), with a 2.3km hiking loop. (The bike ride is 0.5km longer if you take the Marsh Trail).
Location: This kid-friendly Banff bike ride leaves from the historic Cave & Basin – the birthplace of Banff National Park.
- Sundance Canyon bike trailhead (paved bike trail)
- Marsh Trail path trailhead (dirt bike trail)
- Sundance Canyon hike trailhead
Difficulty: The 4km Banff bike ride is along a paved trail and should be doable by kids of all ages. It begins from the Cave & Basin as a fun & fast extended downhill, but the final approach to the Sundance Canyon hiking trailhead is a slow, but steady incline. Our 6-year-old daughter was able to ride up on her multi-gear bike, but our 4-year old son had to get pushes from us and/or walk his single gear bike up the hill.
The walk up into Sundance Canyon is a bit steep, but it’s short so if you are in good enough shape to get to the trailhead, you’ll be able to complete the hiking portion as well.
Taking the Marsh Trail back to the parking lot is much flatter than taking the 2nd half of the paved trail back to the parking lot.
- The Cave & Basin is a National Historic Site and is worth a visit with kids
- There are picnic tables and washrooms at the Cave & Basin site and at the Sundance Canyon trailhead.
- There is a water tap with fresh, drinkable mountain water to fill hydration packs just behind the Cave & Basin building near the Sundance Canyon trailhead.
Not sure what to bring? Check out our recommended gear for hiking in Banff.
4. Bow Valley Provincial Park Bike Path
Kids of all ages will enjoy this easy Kananaskis bike trail through the Bow Valley Provincial Park. This paved family-friendly bike trail winds its way through a dense mixed forest with several open meadows and plenty of beautiful Rocky Mountain wildflowers. Keep an eye open for the brilliant orange Wood Lily which loves growing on open hillsides such as this.
A highlight of this easy Kananaskis bike ride is a stop at a bench at the top of a ridge with sweeping views of the Bow Valley mountains, including Yamnuska and the Three Sisters in Canmore.
Distance: 8.8km total (4.4km each way)
Location: The Bow Valley Provincial Park bike path is a there-and-back bike trail. It begins from the parking lot of the Bow Valley Provincial Park Visitors Centre. The far end of the trail is at the Bow Valley Campground offices.
Difficulty: Our 4 & 6 year old kids were able to bike the full distance of this easy bike trail in 1h22m. This bike trail features a few short, steep hills which required our kids to get off and walk their bikes up, but in general the hills are very gradual and easy to bike up.
- Washrooms are found in the Bow Valley PP Visitors Centre parking lot.
- There are picnic tables on both ends of the trail.
- The campground office has a convenience store.
- There are several benches along the path for a break
- E-Bikes are permitted
5. Evan Thomas Bike Path (Bill Milne)
The Evan Thomas bike path is one of our favorite kid-friendly biking trails in Kananaskis. The Evan Thomas bike trail is paved the entire length and runs through a wide variety of scenic terrain.
As you begin the Evan Thomas bike path, you’ll enjoy wide open meadows featuring tons of Rocky Mountain wildflowers along with unhindered views of the majestic Kananaskis mountains, including one of my favorites, Mt. Kidd.
Large sections of deep, lush forest adds variety to this kid-friendly Kananaskis bike trail. The beautiful mountain streams and deep green moss blanketing the forest floor creates a magical ambiance.
Bill Milne Add-on: The Evan Thomas bike path is commonly referred to as the Bill Milne bike path. But according to the interactive map on the Kananaskis Country website, the Bill Milne trail goes from Kananaskis Village to Kovach Pond. The biking trail becomes the Evan Thomas trail beyond Kovach Pond.
The Bill Milne add-on is about 2.5km one-way and has a short section of steep switchbacks.
Distance: 17.2km total (8.6km each way)
Difficulty: Our kids were able to bike the full distance of this kid-friendly bike ride themselves in 2h30m. There are a few hills which required our kids to get off and walk their bikes up, but in general the hills are very gradual and easy to bike up.
Safety: Cycling the Evan Thomas bike path all the way to Wedge Pond involves crossing Highway 40 a single time. The highway crossing is between the 7-8km mark. This is a major highway with a speed limit of 90km/h, so keep your kids close.
After crossing Highway 40, there are a few steep hills and it’s difficult to see other cyclists coming from the other direction. We recommend taking these hills and turns very slowly (you’ll see signs in this area telling you to slow down).
- Washrooms are found in the parking lots at both Kovach Pond and Wedge Pond.
- There are picnic tables at both ends of this kid-friendly biking trail.
- There are benches with scenic views of the Canadian Rockies found along the biking trail.
- The biking trail goes right through Mt. Kidd RV Park which has tons of facilities including washrooms, a convenience store and picnic tables.
- E-Bikes are permitted.
6. Watridge Lake / Karst Springs Hike & Bike
Karst Springs is one of our favorite family-friendly hikes in Kananaskis, but it can also be done as a family-friendly bike ride.
The first 4km of the 5km Karst Springs hike is along a reasonably flat, dirt road to Watridge Lake. This trail is excellent for a family bike ride as it’s wide enough for everyone to ride side-by-side – a rarity while bike riding in the Canadian Rockies. Another benefit of this wide-open biking trail is you get to enjoy beautiful mountain views all around.
After the 4km easy bike ride to Watridge Lake, you have the option to lock up your bikes and hike the final 1.1km up to see the incredible Karst Springs. The raging waterfall created by a huge natural spring is one of the most spectacular natural attractions in Kananaskis and we highly recommend it. Full details can be found in our Hiking Karst Spring post.
Distance: 8km total bike ride (4km each way). The hiking portion adds another 1.1km each way (2.2km total)
Location: The Watridge Lake – Karst Spring trailhead leaves from the Mt. Shark Day Use area in the Spray Valley Provincial Park part of Kananaskis Country.
Difficulty: The kid-friendly biking trail to Watridge Lake is surprisingly flat, with only a few small hills which may require small kids to get off and push. This trail is not paved, but is hard packed dirt, gravel and grass. Kids who are not used to riding their bike on dirt may have a short adjustment period but should have no difficulties.
- Washrooms are found in the Mt. Shark parking lot.
- There are picnic tables at the trail head.
- There are benches with scenic views found along the trail.
- E-Bikes are not currently permitted.
7. Canmore Bike Path System
Canmore is a beautiful mountain town located at the doorstep of Banff National Park. Despite being a small city, there are plenty of easy biking trails which give you the feeling of being deep in nature.
The Canmore bike system spans the entire length of town from the Three Sisters, through downtown to Larch Island. Many of these kid-friendly bike paths are paved, but some are non-technical dirt trails which should be doable by all ability levels.
Some of our favorite kid-friendly bike trails in Canmore are:
- Three Sisters Pathway: This is one of the most scenic Canmore bike trails. This highly enjoyable family bike ride alternates between hugging the shores of the Bow River and dense forest trails. Your kids will love passing the “Stinky River” on their way to the West Canmore Park Playground. The 4km stretch of bike trail shown in the attached Google Map is one of our favorite kid-friendly bike rides in Canmore. The trail surface is paved in some spots and dirt in others.
- The West Canmore Park Playground to the Canmore Engine Bridge: An enjoyable 1.5km paved easy bike ride from one of Canmore’s best playgrounds along the Bow River, through Riverside Park to Canmore’s landmark rail bridge (which used to serve Canmore’s coal mine).
Download pdf’s of Canmore’s bike path system.
Recommended Bike Gear for Family Bike Trips to Banff
To go on a bike trip with your family, you’ll need a bike rack to carry at least 3 bikes. You’ll find a small selection of high quality bike racks at MEC, but Amazon.ca has a much wider, more affordable selection.
For us, we needed to get a hitch installed on our car before buying a bike rack. After doing a lot of shopping around, we discovered U-Haul actually installs hitches for a reasonable price.
Family-Friendly Bike Rentals in Banff
If you are visiting Banff with kids without your own bikes, these bike rentals in Banff offer bikes for all ages:
- Ultimate Sports offers 20” and 24” bike rentals. They also have trail-a-bikes and chariots to rent.
- Snowtips Bactrax has bikes for kids of all sizes.
Family-Friendly Bike Rentals in Canmore
If you wish to rent bikes in Canmore, the following shops offer bike rentals for the whole family:
- Rebound Cycle offers 20” and 24” kid bike rentals as well as trail-a-bikes and chariots to rent.
- Gear Up Sports has 20” and 24” bike rentals along with chariots and trail-a-bikes to rent.
- Trail Sports has 20” and 26” kid bike rentals along with Burley and tag-a-long trailers for rent
You May Also Enjoy
- Easy Banff Hiking Trails
- Best Kananaskis Hiking Trails for Social Distancing
- How to Get to Banff National Park
- Getting Around Banff without a Car
- Best Banff Hotels for Visiting without a Car
We love biking in Banff with our kids. Do you have a family-friendly biking trail in Banff we should know about? Email us at info[at]travelbanffcanada[dot]com.