The first documentation of this event had participants skiing from Lake Louise to Banff through the Bow Valley on February 8th, 1929. With equipment and trail conditions decidedly inferior to those available today, the fastest skier in the 1929 event was Paul Gotaas of the Camrose Ski Club with a time of 5h 15m 17s. Rekindled in 1979, the modern version of this annual cross-country loppet was contested with the entry of two teams and sponsored by Baker Creek Chalets, Castle Mountain Village and Wilson Mountain Sports. In 1990, the event was skied by individuals as well as teams of up to six members (or four team members when the shortened course is used-ending at Sawbuck). Now this popular local event has grown to 20 teams and 40 individuals.
From 1995 until 2006, the Banff Ski Runners joined the organizers as a major sponsor. As of 2008, the loppet is part of the Banff Winter Festival but with its own organizing committee.
Participants in the past events have both enjoyed and endured the challenges of the terrain and the weather over the course of this 72 km semi-wilderness route.


Trail & Tracksetting

Please bear in mind the loppet is skied on a semi wilderness trail. Tracksetting is done to the best of our ability with the equipment we are able to use.

1st Leg [21.3km]


The loppet starts on the lake in front of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The trail proceeds down the tramline with two road crossings and onto the Bow River Trail across from the Lake Louise Train Station. The trail continues through the campground and along the river before crossing two foot bridges onto Fairview Drive and the Emergency Exit road (old 1A highway). From the level railway crossing (9.8 km), participants will ski several hundred meters east before passing under Highway #1 at the rail underpass (under CPR direction). Doubling back to join the old 1A roadbed, skiers head for Corral Creek on the Bow Valley Parkway and make their way to Baker Creek Chalets and the first relay checkpoint. This is typically the coldest leg due to the early start and the descent from the Chateau.
This is also the longest leg at 21.3 km.

2nd Leg [9.7km]


The exchange station is at the Baker Creek trailhead parking lot (across the road from the Chalets). The second leg picks up the designated ski trail to Protection Mountain Campground. Once through the campground, another road crossing takes the skiers onto the old highway that parallels the Bow Valley Parkway. A final road crossing and short hill climb brings the skiers up to the Castle Lookout parking lot and relay checkpoint.
The length is 9.7 km [total from start is 31.0 km].

3rd Leg [12.9km]


The exchange station is the Castle Lookout trailhead. Leg three continues along the Bow Valley Parkway (1A), on designated ski trails and under the powerline, to another road crossing at Castle Junction. We continue on designated ski trails to Silver City (37.4 km) and onto the road shoulder until Moose Meadows. The trail cuts through Moose Meadows to a cutline near the railway and then carries on to the campground at Johnston Canyon.
The length is 12.9 km [total from start is 43.9 km].

4th Leg [6.6km]


The exchange station is Johnston Canyon campground. The fourth leg leaves the campground, following the 1A down to the Hillsdale road split. Skiers cross the road and follow the split (against vehicle traffic) to another road crossing, pass through a meadow and end at the Sawback picnic area.
The length is 6.6 km [total from start is 50.5 km].

Additional Information

Warm water, warm sports drinks and baked treats will be at each hand-off station. Washrooms are located at the start, Baker Creek, Castle Mountain Chalets and Sawback (finish).

The Loppet is a classic ski race. It is a beautiful course that proves to challenge skiers of all levels. Whether as a team or individual, we hope you enjoy yourselves and thank you for supporting this great local event! Good Luck!!

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