bikes canada general moosling trip reports

A grand day out

Kat and I hatched a cunning plan – well, she had a plan to hike up Sulphur Mountain. I said I would ride there with the boy, and meet them at the base. She decided to join me for the whole grand outing.

The ride to Sulphur Mountain was in itself quite epic. Getting to Banff takes long enough when you’re towing small children. We made it there, and then had a refuelling stop at Wildflour Bakery (ohh, that place is delicious). There we met Mike and Dwayne, who bravely cheered us on from the safety of the car, as we started the ride up the hill.

And that hill? Up to Sulphur Mountain? I’d never ridden it before, and it’s really quite steep when you’re towing a small boy who doesn’t feel like pedalling.

In the end I was glad he’d decided to save his legs though. As it meant he happily hiked the whole way up Sulphur Mountain once we got there – 655m elevation gain over 5.5km, it was a decent effort.

The older menfolk turned back part way up the mountain, as they had serious business to attend to elsewhere. Or something.

The rest of us forged on to the summit – well, to the point where the gondola takes you anyway, which isn’t the true summit, but close enough. After admiring the view, we caught the gondola back down again – to the great excitement of the boy.

And then ever more excitement, it was icecream time!

And we weren’t even done then! It was time to bike tired boys back to Canmore. Thankfully the return trip on the Legacy Trail is always easier though, and we fairly flew along the trail to be home in time for dinner.

canada general trail running

A crazy long run

I’d been wanting to do something a little epic on Saturday, but couldn’t decide what. But then I was invited to run along the Rundle Riverside trail from Canmore to Banff. “What a fantastic idea!” I said to myself, “And then if I’m still feeling chipper I could run up and down Sulphur Mountain as well, I’ve been meaning to do that.”

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden it, but I think Rundle Riverside makes a better running trail than biking trail. The Canmore end is horrifically rooty. After a while though, it eases off and becomes a very mellow mossy sort of trail, and it’s a bit disappointing when you’re suddenly spat out onto the golf course roads.

Nineteen kilometres later, and I was still feeling good, so I said goodbye to my running companion and headed out around the slopes of Sulphur to find the trail up the back. Past the Cave and Basin, towards Sundance Canyon, then a sudden left turn uphill, onto an old fire road.

The lower slopes of the back side of Sulphur are a bit un-inspiring. It’s just an overgrown fire road the whole way up, and while you’re down low, there’s not much of a view, just a fire road slog.

But then the view gets better.

And the trail climbs up into the sky.

Until suddenly you’re at the top! There are tourists everywhere, who took the gondola up, and are complaining about having to climb some boardwalk and stairs to get over to the summit peak itself.

I plunged on down the hill, intent on catching the 3pm bus back to Canmore. After running at a decent clip from the gondola base station to reach the downtown area, I made it with time to spare to go and buy a cold drink. Mission successful!

Now I just have to pack my bags to catch a flight to Australia this afternoon, where I’ll be visiting for three weeks.

Distance: 40km
Elevation gain: 1,330m

canada general


Banff is a little town in the Banff National Park.

The stats
Banff NP was Canada’s first National Park, and as one of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, it’s also a World Heritage Site. At an altitude of 1,463 m Banff is the highest town in Canada. Any further growth from its current population of seven or eight thousand (depending on the season) has been restricted due to environmental concerns – the National Park is one of the most visited in North America. The Canada Census of 2006 gave the median age in the town as 29.6, thanks in no small part to the huge number of 18-30 year old internationals over here on working holiday visas (apparently Banff can be quite popular with the 18 year old crowd, as being in the province of Alberta the legal drinking age is 18 – versus 19 for British Columbia).

The view

On my first day in Banff we hiked up the Sanson Peak of Sulphur Mountain, one of the scenic mountains that are conveniently scattered around the town. At 2256 metres it towers above Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko (2228 m). And the photo above shows the view from the peak. Looking down into the Bow Valley, you can see the township of Banff nestled next to Tunnel Mountain, and the Bow River winding along next to it.