The direct road to Lake Minnewanka is closed during the winter due to avalanche risk. In the spring, Parks Canada sometimes closes the entire loop during the week to motorized vehicles making for a nice 13Km loop. Check the Parks Canada website for more details.

Quick Stats

Might as well start here, parking. To complete the Minnewanka loop you can park right near the start of the closed road. You can also park at the Cascade Ponds picnic area to add a bit of extra distance to your ride. If you enjoy quality suffering like I do, I parked in Canmore and rode the legacy path into Banff first. You can learn more about the legacy path here:
Not surprisingly, the views along the way are spectacular. If you want to extend the loop even further, consider adding side trips to Johnson Lake or Two Jake Lake.
Two Jack Lake is an excellent spot to stop for a snack and enjoy the views.
The classic Parks Canada Adirondack chairs make an appearance. Come summertime, there will be a line up for this picture.
Back on to the road for the next stop, Lake Minnewanka.
Lake Minnewanka. The floating shack is used for boat tours in the summer. Lake Minnewanka wasn’t always a massive lake (massive by Rockies’ standards). It was first dammed and had the water level raised by 16 feet in 1912. Then in 1941 dammed again and raised the water a further 65 feet.
When the lake was dammed the second time, they submerged the Minnewanka village. Today, you can Scuba Dive down about 100 feet to explore the remains. I have been scuba diving in this lake. I can assure you it is cold, murky and the views are better above the water line. But don’t take my word for it, go check it out for yourself.
Another set of Adirondack chairs to enjoy the view. There is a fish on these chairs to inform you about Parks Canada’s efforts to protect the threatened Westslope Cutthroat Trout. They are restoring the fishes habitat and stocking lakes.
I spotted a fox also enjoying the closed road.
Back on the road to the next spot.
There are other pull outs and picnic areas on the loop. This is the parking lot for the old town of Bankhead. The town was originally built in 1903 for coal mining to provide fuel for the trains passing through the Rockies. At the time, the town was bigger than Banff with a population of 900. Compared to today, 4 million people a year visit the town of Banff.
View of mount rundle and the remains of Bankhead are just below this lookout. By 1922, it was getting too expensive to mine coal from this remote area, so the mine was closed. The government ordered the town to be removed and the houses were moved to Banff, Canmore and even Calgary.
From Bankhead it is a quick ride back to the beginning of the loop. I still had some fuel in the tank, so I headed to Banff and did a second loop of Minnewanka on my way back to Canmore to extend my day.

1 Comment

Shawn Bags Mount Rundle – Banff National Park - Trip Bagger · April 17, 2022 at 8:34 pm

[…] of Mt Norquay View of lake Minnewanka. You can read about a bike ride to lake Minnewanka here: Clouds are starting to roll in. Time to get out of here! It appears I stayed on the summit a bit […]

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