Where to hike, bike, and ski in one of Alberta's most incredible locations
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With more than 1,000 miles of trails to choose from, you could never get bored while hiking Banff. The landscape includes sweeping vistas with views over the valley, and you can also get your blood pumping by conquering challenging hikes up the peaks. (Check out these other 10 picturesque National Parks worth hiking.)
Lake Louise, a hamlet in Banff National Park, is a turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks—and it has earned a reputation as the hiking capital of Canada. Fuel your outdoorsy side with scenic walks around the water, or pump up the volume with epic adventures into the wild backcountry. During the fall, the larch trees light up in glowing shades of yellow and gold, especially in Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass, two popular spots to experience the color.
Embark on a multi-day trip that can end at a beautiful retreat such as Shadow Lake Lodge, tucked away near the towering grandeur of Mt. Ball. Or choose to stay at Skoki Lodge, which is where William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, stayed for their private getaway during their first official visit to Canada. The private cabins and gourmet meals bring a little luxury into a hiking getaway.
Bike Beautiful Scenery
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Banff can be explored through a variety of biking sports, from mountain biking and road cycling to fat biking. Banff National Park has 190 km of mountain bike trails that are agreeable to both newbies and extreme adventurers. The park gives way to lakeside rides and smooth gravel paths, then go deeper into the mountains for a technical single track.
If you prefer a guide to riding solo, mountain and road biking tours are available at Banff Cycle. You can also rent mountain bikes from Snowtips Backtracks and Soul Ski and Bike. Fat tire biking takes bipedal lovers into winter: Get your cardio on with its massive tires and superior traction.
Ski the Slopes
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Lake Louise Ski resort is known for being one of the largest ski resorts in North America, at more than 4,200 acres spread across four mountain faces. Try your ski expertise on its beginner, intermediate, and expert runs. Don't let the name fool you: Sunshine Village's seven-month season goes from early November until late May—the longest non-glacial ski season in Canada. This gives you ample time to explore the resort's 3,300 acres of skiable terrain, varying from beginner to expert runs.
Locals flock to Mt. Norquay Ski Resort, a small, family-friendly resort offering the only night skiing in Banff, including a fully lit terrain park. Not a big downhill skier? Try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the destination. Guided snowshoeing can be booked with Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Skoki Lodge and Shadow Lake Lodge are all accessible by snowshoe or cross-country skis. (Get your body ready for all those winter sports with these exercises.)
Stay, Sleep, and Relax
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When traveling, strike gold with a hotel that caters to an active girl's fitness desires. The "Fairmont Fit" program at Fairmont Banff Springs provides a variety of fitness and yoga classes, all of which can be accessed from the schedule on their website. However, the coolest aspect is that they provide all the gear for you (Reebok workout apparel and shoes along with an MP3 player), so you can pack light. You can also take advantage of one-on-one training on site (including yoga) with a certified personal trainer.
Take a Two-Day Trip
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Get out of town aboard the Rocky Mountaineer for a scenic rail trip through the Canadian Rockies landscape. Leaving Banff National Park, the two-day, one-night journey on the scenic train travels from Banff, to Kamloops, ending in Vancouver. Dream of the active adventures you could experience as the train passes glacier and snow-capped peaks, mountain passes, rocky lakeshores, and ranchlands. There is an overnight stay in Kamloops before continuing the journey to Vancouver, so take advantage of the hiking and biking opportunities before moving on. Bonus: You are served hot gourmet meals, complimentary drinks, and snacks while enjoying the panoramic views from your coach.