Lake Louise — Cross-country
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (403-522-3511) has about 50 km. of groomed trails and access to hundreds of miles of backcountry trails, with stunning views of the lake and mountains. The ungroomed, well-marked trail to Skoki Lodge, a rustic log cabin (meaning no electricity, no plumbing, wood-burning stove, great food), begins just above Temple Lodge at the ski area and heads up the valley and over Boulder Pass, 7 miles one way. Reservations are required. If you’re not up for skiing so far into the wilderness, follow the gentle Shoreline Trail starting in front of The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, an easy mile and a half one way. Skiing on Lake Louise is not recommended—no matter how cold it’s been nor for how long, the middle of the lake is fed by not-so-cold spring water and the ice there does not, uh, mature. But when the lake is frozen, many skiers stick close to the shoreline and ski down the lake to the foot of Victoria Glacier.
A complex 20-km. network called Pipestone Loops starts 4 miles west of the Lake Louise Over-pass on the Trans-Canada Highway. Although all are marked beginner, some are suitable for the intermediate.
About 25 miles from Lake Louise, just over the border into British Columbia, is Emerald Lake Lodge (403-343-6321 or 800-663-6336). It has a 40-km. network of groomed trails with views of the Presidential Range, lodging in comfortable cabins and activities such as skating, snowshoeing and a games room. The lodge has a shuttle to the Lake Louise ski area.
Before setting out on any of the trails, check trail conditions at a park warden’s office. Be aware that trail classification is done by healthy Canadians in good shape.