Several winters ago, I spent the most fantastic couple of days snowshoeing in Kananaskis, Alberta, while based out of the remote Mount Engadine Lodge. It was an incredible weekend! There was soft fluffy powder deep enough to lose myself in, coupled with backcountry decadence I experienced at the lodge. I immediately added the trip to my list of “things I MUST do again before I die” and hoped I’d visit again sooner than later. Little did I know that the opportunity would present itself. I’d be back to try a completely different sport. I went for the snowshoeing but returned for the mountain biking – and this time, I brought the whole family with me!
The itinerary below is ideal for a weekend trip in Kananaskis with the family, complete with a relaxing stay at Mount Engadine Lodge and, of course, mountain biking!
Mountain Bike At Canmore Nordic Centre
We left our home base of Calgary on Saturday morning and stopped in the mountain town of Canmore, an hour away. Located approximately 1.5 hours from the lodge, it was the perfect halfway point to stop for our first mountain biking experience in Kananaskis, the trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
I’d long been curious about the Nordic Centre in summer after spending many a happy day skiing there in winter. Also, there is a lack of trail fees in summer, which is always a bonus when visiting a professional training center.
Canmore Nordic Centre is complete with a mountain bike skills park, maintained trails for all levels, and even a paved path for roller skiing. We found the paved trail to be an excellent starting point. Then, we launched off onto some more natural trails en route to a beautiful meadow, and our picnic destination. We only spent a few hours at the Nordic Centre, as we were on a mission to get to Mount Engadine Lodge in time for afternoon tea. Plus, we still had the next section of our drive ahead of us.
Stay At Mount Engadine Lodge
When we arrived, Mount Engadine Lodge was everything we remembered on the last visit. However, this time we had a family suite in a private cabin, which raised the bar for future visits. It was an incredible place to spend the night as a family. We had our own space to retreat to when we wanted downtime away from the other guests. Also, it was an easy way to put our son to bed early while we returned to the main lodge to visit with the other patrons.
We feasted on salmon wrapped in puff pastry, ate way too much coffee cake and chocolate mousse, and woke up Sunday morning to a scrumptious breakfast buffet laid out for us. I am pretty sure I will never tire of staying at this lodge, nor will the experience grow old! In future trips, we plan to try the local hiking trails in summer, ski in winter or even repeat the same snowshoe and bike trails.
Mountain Biking near Mount Shark
After making our lunches for the day and packing our bags, we headed over to the nearby Mt. Shark day-use area and trailhead for the trip’s main focus – more mountain biking! Since Mount Shark is located only 5 min away from the lodge, access could easily be made on a bike if you were staying at the lodge for a few days and wanted to park your car during the duration of your stay.
Our destination at Mount Shark was Watridge Lake via the maintained Watridge Lake ski and bike trail. We were told that it would be an excellent destination for a family trip, which was the case. It’s also great for adults who are beginners at mountain biking.
I had rented a bike for the weekend from the Canmore Nordic Centre and hoped it would perform well on the rocky trail. As it turned out, I had nothing to fear. In fact, I now want to purchase my own mountain bike for future trips. Our son was on a Strider Balance Bike and managed to bike the entire 4.5-mile return trip to the lake and back. He also walked with us up to Karst Spring at the lake. The spring was a neat sight! We watched the water flowing straight out of a hole in the ground before it plummeted off a cliff in a spectacular waterfall. Needless to say, we were glad we pushed on to see it, even if it did add a mile to our trip distance.
We had a fabulous day biking at Mount Shark and are going to return for a biking/camping weekend with other families. We’ll revisit the Nordic Centre, and hopefully, I’ll have my mountain bike by then. Then we’ll be able to fully launch into becoming a mountain biking family and explore more of Kananaskis!
Additional Activities at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Also of interest in the area is nearby Peter Lougheed Provincial Park with opportunities for camping, biking on both paved and natural trails, paddling, hiking, and backpacking. Guaranteed, you can paddle on the pristine Upper and Lower Lakes for an experience that you won’t soon forget if you rent a canoe or kayak at Kananaskis Village on your way through the area.
Kananaskis is my playground. I enjoy discovering every corner of it, whether on snowshoes in winter or on a bike in the summer. Then, add some paddling, camping, or skiing to your trip, and you could stay for a month without ever getting bored. It is the hidden gem of the Canadian Rockies, perfect for weekend exploration!
What are your favorite areas to do mountain biking in Kananaskis? Let us know in the comments below!