This is an easier, cross country style mountain biking loop in the Banff area. The route climbs from the center of Banff up to Tunnel Mountain and Tunnel Bench. The ride features some flat, easy riding on top of the bench as well as some challenging singletrack in The Toe
. The return to Banff takes you down to the Bow River. The route features great views of the mountains surrounding Banff as well as the Bow River Valley.
Starting from the center of Banff or some other convenient place such as the campground on top of the mountain, the route climbs up to Tunnel Bench on the paved Tunnel Mountain Road. Once you reach the campground, look for the start of the Tunnel Bench Loop
at the back of the campground (or better yet pull up the trail on the MTB Project mobile app
). The Tunnel Bench Loop
is suited for beginners being relatively flat. At about 3.5 miles, the trail parallels Tunnel Mountain Road for a short distance.
At 3.8 miles, the route continues on Tunnel Bench Loop
out to the edge of the bench. The trail itself is still easy, but there are some areas with exposure, so if unsure don't hesitate to dismount. There are some awesome views of Cascade Mountain with Cascade River and the Trans-Canada Highway in the valley.
When you reach another road at about 5.3 miles, continue straight onto The Toe
for some more advanced riding. This is a narrow singletrack that features some difficult rocky and rooty sections as well as some short, steep climbs and descents through a scrubby forest. For an easier route, Tunnel Bench Loop
continues to the right at this intersection.
winds its way along a precipice (more exposure) above the Bow River around to the Hoodoo parking area, but not before you get some awesome views of Mount Rundle and the Bow River Valley.
At the Hoodoo parking area, take the Surprise Corner to Hoodoos
trail which descends 250 feet down to the Bow River. There are a couple points with river access, but you probably don't want to go swimming in it. There is one decent climb that interrupts your descent and you'll have another 100-foot climb at the far end of Surprise Corner to Hoodoos
to the Bow River Parking area. There's also a staircase thrown in in the middle for good measure.
From the Bow River Parking Area, Tunnel Mountain Drive takes you back to the center of Banff.
Note that the map tiles used by the website aren't that accurate in this area, so the calculated elevation changes aren't correct. I measured more like 1,600 feet total climb/descent along the route.