|Riding the Tunnel Bench Loop in Banff|
Earlier this summer, we picked up the "Biking Trails in the Banff Area" brochure from the Banff Info. Centre and I quickly decided that I wanted to bike all of the easy green trails in the little pamphlet this summer, as a family. And we've done pretty good! Check out the story I wrote earlier this summer on the Best Family Bike Trails in Banff National Park.
|Biking on the Tunnel Mountain Bench in Banff|
We'd biked most of the green trails this summer but had failed to complete the one I most wanted to do - The Tunnel Bench Loop. Mostly because it wasn't actually a green trail. It's rated as a solid blue (intermediate) and is really not something you do on a tiny bike with 16" wheels. Regardless, I wanted to at least give it a shot this summer.
|Easy section of the Tunnel Bench Loop|
It took two attempts before we finally finished our junior version of the Tunnel Bench Loop, described below.
Biking the Tunnel Bench Loop - The Family Version
First, Start at the Hoodoos Lookout on Tunnel Mountain Drive. It is marked with a letter E on the biking map. (downloadable here)
|Biking along Tunnel Mountain Drive|
Second, Start biking the Tunnel Bench Loop in a clockwise direction heading Towards Surprise Corner. It will be marked as #13. This is a fairly easy section of the trail and doable by novice bikers. There is only one mildly scary hill that could be walked. (I walked it earlier this summer when we tried the trail.)
|The hardest hill on the Tunnel Bench Loop along Tunnel Mountain Drive|
Next, Bike parallel Tunnel Mountain Drive until you reach the Banff Hostel and cross the road at this point to get on the green Tunnel Campground Loop trail. You'll be crossing at the far end of the Tunnel Mountain Campground.
|Easy section of the Tunnel Bench Loop near the Banff Hostel|
|Tunnel Bench Loop behind the campground|
Sadly, we only biked the blue section on the far side of the campground for a short distance until Noah wanted to make an exit onto the green trail. No worries though. It was easy to jump onto the easier Tunnel Campground Loop Trail and we let Dad continue on the Bench Loop instead for more of a challenge. Dad went on to try a black trail called the Toe and we met up at the Hoodoo Lookout again. It was a brilliant way of making sure everybody got a section of trail to their ability.
|Easy riding on the Tunnel Campground Loop|
|Easy hills and riding on the Tunnel Campground Loop|
Why We LOVE this Bike Loop so much:
We loved biking the Tunnel Bench Loop and the Tunnel Campground Loop because we could do sections of each and mix and match our ride. When Noah got tired it was super easy to switch over to an easier bit of the trail for a rest. And if one of us adults wanted more of a challenge, it was easy to add on an extension loop and meet up later on down the trail. There are so many trails on the bench, I know we'll be exploring them for the next several years and we'll just keep adding on more and more blue sections each time we visit Banff.
|Tunnel Bench Loop with Mt. Rundle in the background|
Next year we plan to finish the full loop, including the narrow section above the Cascade River that Noah is definitely not ready for yet. I also hope we get to try out trail #11 to Surprise Corner. However, we start small and bit by bit we're finishing this loop. We've biked about 50% of it now and thanks to the green campground loop, we can just keep working our way around the circle and adding to the blue part each time.
For more on Biking in Banff, visit my previous story on the Best Family Bike Trails in Banff.
For more on the Complete Tunnel Bench Loop together with the Hoodoo Trail, read Tour de Banff - The Ultimate Family Mountain Bike Tour. - written for 2016
|Mountain Biking in Banff|