A Beautiful Day at Lake Minnewanka



Elevation Gain

433 Meters

Avg. Pace

07:36 / km



Cellular Coverage: Partial Coverage

Trail Type: Out and Back

The Story

Today’s long run was a prescribed Faster 25km Trail Run. I have grown a little tired of running the Highline trail above the house here in Canmore and was hoping to find something new. 

Thursday night I went out to Canmore Brewing Co. to join a group of runners to take in a few trail running films. It was there that someone suggested I try Lake Minnewanka. With the warmer weather it seemed that the trails were now clear of snow and at worst a little muddy. The anticipation rose as I thought of running a trail I had never been on before. 

I knew that Lake Minnewanka was a popular destination and likely would get busy if I did not get there relatively early. I aimed for a 9am arrival to the lake and was rewarded by beating most of the crowds to come. The trail is largely narrow single track so having to weave through endless lines of hikers was not an appealing thought. 

Getting There

Lake Minnewanka is on the North side of Hwy. 1, the same exit you take to go to Banff. It was about a 25 minute drive for me from Canmore. 

The main parking lot is not very large so I was glad to have arrived early. By the time I finished the lot was full and there were many cars idling around waiting for someone to leave.

Google Maps Directions Here.


If you are looking for a long runnable trail network this is a great one! I ran 13km out and 13km back but your could easily go 30km out or more if you need longer run. There is a bit of a climb over the first couple of KM. It definitely looks steeper than it is on the elevation profile. I think the total gain over the main incline was still less than 100m meaning that it is still very runnable. 

While not overly technical, the first section is made up of loose fist-size rocks, which means you need to pay attention to your footing lest you turn an ankle. After that first incline the grade, while undulating was mostly runnable for the entire time I ran.

There were a few short creek crossings, which I was able to stay dry navigating by hopping rocks. The trail stays 20-30 meters above the lake, with the odd time meeting the lake at the campsites along the way. Camp LM9, about 10km in, had a pit toilet, so if you need to, you can stop for a bio break there.   

Things to note

As always, bring your bear spray. I imagine that the place is a bit of a gong show in the summer, so I suggest going early in the day to ensure you are not dodging hikers all the way out. There is a snack shop at the trailhead and restrooms at the parking area. I did not go in, but I would presume they are plumbed and cleaned regularly. 

You need a Parks pass as you are in Banff National Park. 

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