Situated in a rugged valley between Canmore and Banff, Alberta, the Goat Creek Trail segment of the Great Trail is a 17 km, multi-use backcountry gem that features gentle grades well suited to mountain bikers of all ages.
With its spectacular mountain views and wide, gentle path, a bike journey along the Goat Creek Trail wouldn’t be complete without plenty of stops to soak up the ambiance. Despite the splendours of this all-ages trail, bikers touring this slice of Rocky Mountain paradise should come prepared with food, water and bear repellent, plus a first-aid kit, tire pump and rain gear, just in case.
Meandering through the wilderness between Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain the Goat Creek Trail is best started at its trailhead in Canmore. Taking this route – as opposed to starting in Banff – will mean a breezy downhill journey, as opposed to pedalling uphill most of the way if you go in the opposite direction.
Plan on a one-way trip from Canmore taking about two to three hours, or schedule a full day for an out-and-back trip, or a return via the paved Legacy Trail back to Canmore.
To reach the trailhead near Canmore, bikers must first travel about 9 km up the Spray Lakes Road from town, along the way heading past the Canmore Nordic Center and then a few more kilometers up the twisty gravel road to a parking lot on the right. Following a short burst down a path, a sign marks the official start of the Trail where you can also expect to find a map, travel tips and other handy information.
Once you are underway in earnest, the Goat Creek Trail offers nearly nonstop Rocky Mountain views with much of the wide path winding through towering spruce and pine forest and across a number of picturesque bridges and creek crossings.
Hugging the Rundle Mountain Range the Trail entails about 360 meters of gentle elevation loss (or gain) between its trailheads, adding to its appeal for beginner and intermediate riders.
While you are bound to encounter other cyclists, you won’t fight the kind of traffic known to other popular nearby routes like paved Legacy Trail, which skirts the Trans Canada Highway.
Make sure you bring your camera to record the adventure too. And, of course, share your photos on social media and tag Trans Canada Trail with #thegreattrail hashtag.
Getting there and back.
If you are planning to bike the Goat Creek Trail one way from Canmore, be sure to park a vehicle at the trailhead near the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, or arrange a shuttle pickup, so a ride is waiting when you complete your trip.
For nominal fees the “Roam Bus” or the “Hike n’ Bike” shuttle offer other handy ways to get back to Canmore.
Text and photos by Andrew Penner