The Lake Louise Ski Resort is renowned for its long ski runs and truly epic vistas of Banff National Park and the Canadian Rocky Mountains. As one of the of the “Ski Big 3″ resorts, Lake Louise is one of the best ski resorts in Banff National Park. There’s plenty of terrain to explore at Lake Louise, with ski runs for all skill levels spread over 3 mountain faces.
For people just learning to ski, it may seem a little intimidating visiting a world-class ski resort in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, but fear not as there are plenty of green runs at Lake Louise for beginners.
I’ve been skiing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort my whole life and recently had a season pass for my family. My kids are still learning to ski, so we spent a lot of time on the beginner runs. As with all Banff ski resorts, some easy ski runs are better than others, so to help you make the most of your visit to Lake Louise and skiing in Banff, here is our list of the best ski runs at Lake Louise for beginners.
What You’ll Find in This Article on the Best Easy Runs at Lake Louise
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2 Best Green Runs at Lake Louise for First Time Skiers
If you are just learning to go mountain skiing, try these two easy Lake Louise green runs. While skiing these two easy ski runs at the Lake Louise ski resort, you will be around other beginner skiers, providing you with a no-pressure environment to get your ski legs.
1. Lake Louise Bunny Hill (Sunny Side Magic Carpet Lift)
If this is your first time on skis or if you simply want a safe place to warm up, your best bet would be to spend some time on the Sunny Side magic carpet lift. A magic carpet is a slow-moving sidewalk which slowly moves skiers and snowboarders up a short bunny hill. Getting on the Lake Louise magic carpet requires no special skill, just a bit of balance.
The Lake Louise Ski Resort actually has two magic carpets back-to-back. If you are brand new to skiing, you can get off at the end of the first magic carpet and ski down the bottom half of the Sunny Side ski trail. Once you’ve developed enough confidence, you can take both magic carpets up to start skiing Sunny Side from the top.
The Sunny Side magic carpet bunny hill is a short ski run with a very gentle downhill slope – a perfect ski run for new skiers at Lake Louise.
If you are an adult who is new to mountain skiing, don’t think the Lake Louise bunny hill magic carpet is just for kids – it’s used by adults all the time. In fact, many Lake Louise ski lessons start here, with beginner skiers learning to ski.
2. Wiwaxy (Glacier Express Chairlift)
Ok, so it’s a pretty big jump from the Sunny Side bunny hill to Wiwaxy, but if you are just graduating from the bunny hill, we recommend Wiwaxy as your first green run at Lake Louise.
Wiwaxy is a pretty long green run, but it has been designated by the Lake Louise ski resort as a slow trail for beginners. They even have the entrance to Wiwaxy mostly blocked off with signs, advising all skiers that it is a special slow ski run for beginner skiers.
Local Knowledge: No matter where you are in the Lake Louise ski resort, there are signs everywhere showing you the easiest way down.
Don’t miss our article on the Best Green Runs at Sunshine Village!
9 Best Lake Louise Green Runs for Beginners
Once you’ve progressed beyond the best green runs at Lake Louise for first-time skiers, you can start to explore the rest of the easy runs at this world-class Banff ski resort. Based on our experiences, here are the top 9 Lake Louise green runs:
1. Pika (Grizzly Express Gondola or Ptarmigan Quad Chair)
In our opinion, the Pika run is the best green run at Lake Louise Ski Resort. You can access the Pika run from either the Grizzly Express Gondola or the Ptarmigan Quad Chairlift.
The thing we like best about the Pika green run is that it is the perfect combination of easy run elements. Pika is not too long, not too short, not too steep and not too flat. It’s quite simply, a very enjoyable green run at Lake Louise.
After you get off the Grizzly Express Gondola or the Ptarmigan lift, start skiing towards the Back Bowls (in the opposite direction of the main day lodge). The Pika ski run begins with a few gentle twists and turns as it leads you gently down the backside of Whitehorn Mountain. There are several black diamond runs which begin off Pika, but just keep skiing straight and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
When Pika reaches the bottom of Whitehorn Mountain you’ll enter a valley in-between Mt. Richardson. Here, Pika does a gentle 180 degree turn and heads towards the Ptarmigan Quad Chairlift. The skiing here is on a nice, wide trail with just enough decline to get good speed going, without being too scary. You’ll pass the Paradise Chairlift and the Temple Lodge along the way.
2. Easy Street (Juniper Express Chairlift)
When we go skiing at Louise with our kids, we spend most of our time skiing on the Juniper Express Chairlift. It’s mostly short, blue runs off this chair, but there’s also an excellent green run as well, called Easy Street.
When you get off the Juniper Express Chairlift, you’ll turn right. You’ll technically be on the Egress Run (another Lake Louise beginner run) at this stage, but it doesn’t take long to officially start skiing on Easy Street.
What we like most about Easy Street is that it is a reasonably wide trail with a good downhill slope for beginners. For the first half of this run, you’ll likely have the slopes to yourself. The second half is along the extremely wide final approach towards the Lake Louise day lodge.
The one downside to this Lake Louise ski run for new skiers, is that when you leave Egress to begin Easy Street, you’ll need to cross the spot where the Men’s Downhill black diamond trail and the Juniper blue trail converge.
Although it crosses a black diamond trail, the difficulty of your ski trail remains easy. The skiers on these trails are skilled and as long as you ski in a predictable fashion across their trail, you should have no problems. Just do your thing and they will avoid you.
3. Wiwaxy (Glacier Express Chairlift)
Wiwaxy is likely the most well-known of the Lake Louise beginner runs. This is likely because it is reachable from the Glacier Express Quad Chairlift, which is the main chairlift on the front side. The Glacier Express only takes you halfway up the front side, making the Wiwaxy green run an excellent choice for beginner skiers.
To get to Wiwaxy, turn right off the Glacier Express Quad chairlift. At this point, you’ll technically be on the Bald Eagle green run, but it’s such a short run it barely counts. Before long, you’ll reach an intersection with a few blue trails – simply stay left for Wiwaxy.
Wiwaxy is labelled as the easiest way down off the Glacier Express Chairlift, and we agree. It’s a very enjoyable ski on a gently winding ski run through the trees down the front side of Whitehorn Mountain.
Towards the bottom, Wiwaxy crosses under the Grizzly Express Gondola and meets up with Easy Street – another of the top runs for beginners at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
4. Pine Cone Way (Glacier Express Chairlift)
Pine Cone Way is an alternate route to Wiwaxy down the lower half of the front side. In fact, in order to get to Pine Cone Way, you’ll need to start skiing on Wiwaxy. The turn off for Pine Cone Way is shortly after you begin Wiwaxy on the left.
One of the things we like most about skiing Pine Cone Way is that it is often less crowded than the popular Wiwaxy green run. It’s a pretty narrow ski run which some beginner skiers may not like much, but it’s longer and therefore less steep than Wiwaxy.
Pine Cone Way meets up with Wiwaxy about halfway through its total distance down the front side.
5. Eagle Meadows (Grizzly Express Gondola or Ptarmigan Quad Chairlift)
The primary reason why the Eagle Meadows green run is halfway down our list is because it starts near the very top of the front side. It’s a very enjoyable ski runs for beginners, but if you start skiing it, it means you’ll have to ski all the way down the front side to the lodge. For many beginner skiers, this will be a very long, and potentially tiring, ski run.
That said, if you do find yourself at the top of the front side, the Eagle Meadows green run is listed as the easiest way down the top half of the mountain. The ski trail begins with a long straight downhill, which may be a bit steep for some, but then it levels out big time (thus requiring the speed from the downhill).
Once it passes the flat area, the Eagle Meadows ski trail is a gentle decline with a charming wooden fence on your left.
At the end of Eagle Meadows, it meets up with the Bald Eagle green run, which of course turns into Wiwaxy and/or Pine Cone Way.
6. Saddleback (Paradise Chairlift or Top of the World Express)
If you want a (safe) glimpse at what kind of terrain the expert skiers go on, try the Saddleback ski trail. Accessible via chairlifts from both the front side and back side, the Saddleback trail winds its way down a bowl on the back side of Whitehorn Mountain.
As you begin skiing this beginner ski trail, hug the right-hand side of the trail and you’ll get a glimpse at some of the black diamond and double-black diamond ski runs the back side is known for. Be sure to stay on Saddleback or you may end up on The Beast! (don’t worry – it’s really easy to stay on the beginner trail).
The Saddleback ski trail is the only true beginner run off the Paradise chair or the Top of the World Chairlift, so it’s pretty easy to find and follow. You’ll be in the high alpine zone, above the treeline nearly the whole way down the run, resulting in truly breathtaking views of the soaring peaks the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Try not to let the beautiful Banff National Park mountain views distract you too much as the first half of the Saddleback ski trail is a little on the steep side and the track is a bit narrow. On weekends it may seem a little congested if there are lots of beginner skiers on this long back side run.
Near the bottom of the bowl, there’s an option to cut the corner and ski another green run called Warden’s Run (which ultimately meets up with Saddleback again). If you stay on the Saddleback run, the trail really flattens out and becomes much wider when you reach the bottom of the bowl and the junction for the Boomerang blue run (off the Summit chair).
Eventually, Saddleback meets up with Pika and you’ll wind up at the Temple Lodge, Ptarmigan Chairlift or the Larch Chairlift.
7. Marmot (Larch Express Quad Chairlift)
As Pika is our favorite Lake Louise ski run for beginners, we often end up near the Larch Express chairlift at the end of the run. The Larch chairlift has two green ski runs on it, making it a convenient follow-up to Pika.
The Larch chairlift runs up the west side of Lipalian Mountain. As you look to your left (south) there is nothing blocking your view of the absolutely stunning Rocky Mountains that the Lake Louise Ski Resort is famous for, Mount Temple, Mount Hungabee, Saddle Mountain, Fairview Mountain, and even Lake Louise itself are on full display. The breathtaking views of Banff National Park are reason enough to take the Larch Express Quad Chairlift, but thankfully, you can enjoy some fun mountain skiing for beginners too.
Of the two green runs off the Larch chairlift, Marmot is considered the easiest route down. It gently works its way down Lipalian Mountain into a valley, which you then follow all the way to the bottom where it meets the final leg of Pika.
New skiers will enjoy a nice steady downslope suitable for beginners the entire way down. The only real knock on the Marmot trail is that it meets up with the bottom of the Lynx black diamond ski run and it gets quite congested here at times.
Just beyond the Lynx intersection, you’ll notice most skiers leave Marmot for a “green” ski run called 30 Goats. If you are only interested in skiing beginner runs, we recommend continuing along Marmot as 30 Goats is a very short green run, which meets up with the Larch blue run for intermediate skiers. (30 Goats actually shows up as a Blue run on some Lake Louise ski maps).
I really enjoy the finish to the Marmot ski run. It’s a nice, long, straight and wide trail which passes the Temple Lodge before arriving at the bottom of the Larch and Ptarmigan chairlifts.
8. Lookout (Larch Express Chairlift)
The other ski run for beginners off the Larch chairlift is the Lookout ski run, which likely earned its name due to the stunning views of the Lake Louise mountains.
You get to Lookout as a left-hand turn off Marmot. It begins a little poorly as it feels like you are skiing on a snowy road, but it soon redeems itself and becomes a fun ski trail, twisting and turning its way down Lipalian Mountain.
The only challenge on the Lookout ski trail for beginner skiers is a small uphill portion, which requires you to pick up speed beforehand.
9. Deer Run (Grizzly Gondola)
As an easy ski run which begins near the very top of the front side, the best reason to ski the Deer Run green trail is for the views. As you’ve seen, there are a lot of world-class mountain views on display at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, but they don’t get much better than the ones on display on Deer Run.
The Deer Run ski trail is a quick and easy way to get from the Lake Louise gondola to the important trail junction halfway up the front side. The skiing to this junction is fun and easy on a steady, but not too scary downhill.
We knocked Deer Run down our list of the best beginner runs at Lake Louise simply because there is a reasonably big uphill section halfway through. This requires you pick up a fair amount of speed to avoid poling up the hill.
The Deer Run trail ends halfway down the front side, but you can continue skiing on beginner runs by transitioning over to Wiwaxy or Pine Cone Way.
6 Best Chairlifts at Lake Louise Ski Resort for Beginners
1. Glacier Express Quad Chairlift – 2 Green Runs
The Glacier Express chairlift is the most popular chairlift for beginner skiers at Lake Louise. When I skied Lake Louise as a child, when I was just learning to ski, I’d take the Glacier chair up and ski Wiwaxy over and over. I can still feel my quads burning!
The Glacier Express chairlift offers beginner skiers two Lake Louise green runs to choose from: Wiwaxy and Pine Cone Way. Wiwaxy is the designated “learning area” within the Lake Louise ski resort, so you’ll be at ease if you are trying a real ski run for the first time. Pine Cone Way, is a little longer and less steep than Wiwaxy, but it’s quite narrow, which may make some beginner skiers uncomfortable.
2. Juniper Express Chairlift – 1 Green Run
Although the Juniper Express chairlift has only has one green run, it’s a good one – Easy Street. I like the Juniper chairlift for beginners as it only goes part way up the front side. This means the Easy Street green run is much shorter and more manageable for new skiers than the green runs further up the mountain.
3. Grizzly Gondola – 3 Green Runs
The Glacier Express and Juniper chairlifts are the only two within the Lake Louise Ski Resort which only go part way up the mountain. Take any other chairlift and you’ll soon realize why Lake Louise used to have the slogan “The long run down“. As you’ll soon find out, it’s a long way down from the top of the Grizzly Gondola all the way back down to the base.
If you want to enjoy the breathtaking views on the front side, you can choose to ski the Eagle Meadows or Deer Run beginner runs. These two green trails meet up with Wiwaxy mid-mountain, resulting in one super long green run down. I can certainly recall how tired my legs were doing these green runs when I was learning to ski at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
You can also reach my favorite beginner run at Lake Louise from the Grizzly Gondola. The Pika trail is a super fun easy ski trail which snakes its way down the back side. Once at the end of Pika, you can take the Ptarmigan chair up and ski Pika again, or you can take the Larch chair and enjoy a few green runs there too.
Local Knowledge: If you don’t feel like you can ski all the way down to the day lodge, you can ride the Grizzly Gondola back down.
4. Larch Chairlift – 2 Green Runs
In addition to having stunning views, the Larch chairlift is home to two of the best beginner runs at Lake Louise. The Marmot and Lookout ski runs are medium length and are very enjoyable tracks for new skiers.
5 & 6. Top of the World & Paradise Chairlift – 2 Green Runs
Top of the World is known mostly for its blue and black runs near the top of the front side, while the Paradise chairlift takes expert skiers to a playground of black and double-black diamond runs. But, one thing these two chairlifts have in common – you can reach the Saddleback and Warden’s Run beginner ski runs on the back side.
The scenery along Saddleback is distractingly nice and it’s fun to ski alongside some insane expert terrain – to see what the crazy skiers are up to. Warden’s Run is just a simple shortcut in the middle of Saddleback, but it’s fun for a little variety.
Worst Chairlift at Lake Louise Ski Resort for New Skiers
It’s worth noting that there is one chairlift at Lake Louise which has no green runs: The Summit Chairlift. While the 360 degree views from the summit of Whitehorn Mountain are breathtaking, one thing you won’t see is a green ski run.
Green Runs that are NOT for Beginners
One thing at beginner skiers need to be aware of when they ski Lake Louise for the first time, is that there are many “green” ski runs, which are not actually suitable for new skiers. Why? Quite simply, you need to ski on an intermediate (blue) run or, even worse, an expert (black diamond) ski run to get to the “green run”.
When you look at the Lake Louise Ski Resort trail maps, always look to make sure you don’t have to ski an intermediate or expert run to get to the beginner runs. Examples of “green runs” which are not actually for beginners are:
- Upper Wiwaxy: is only reachable by skiing the Home Run or Sunset Terrace ski trails (both of which are intermediate ski runs)
- Whitehorn Cat Track: begins off the Upper Wiwaxy ski trail, so the same problem.
- Jerry’s Jungle: this green run is only reached by skiing the intermediate Charlie’s Choice blue run.
- Egress: this very long beginner run is only reachable by skiing one of the many black diamond runs in the West Bowl.
- 30 Goats: You can actually reach 30 Goats via the Marmot beginner run, but it quickly runs into the Larch intermediate ski trail.
More Lake Louise Activities in Winter
Dan Brewer, a life-long Alberta resident, calls Canmore home along with his wife and two kids. He is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada, where he gets to share his passion for the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Dan, along with his family, love being outdoors doing one of the many activities they enjoy in the mountains: hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
When he's not in Canmore enjoying one of his favourite local hikes, you can find him hoping on a plane to explore a new country with his family or working on one of their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.