Kananaskis: We Went Snowshoeing and Returned for Mountain Biking

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 the 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 biking in Kananaskis: Biking at Mt. Shark

Biking at Mt. Shark. Photo: Tanya Koob

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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, you don’t have trail fees in summer, which is always a bonus when visiting a professional training center.

Canmore Nordic Centre has 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 onto 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.

Read More: Mount Engadine Lodge: Alberta’s Front Country Lodge with Backcountry Charm

mountain biking in Kananaskis: biking at Canmore Nordic Centre

Enjoying the trails at Canmore Nordic Centre. Photo: Tanya Koob

Stay at Mount Engadine Lodge

When we arrived, Mount Engadine Lodge was everything we remembered on the last visit. However, we had a family suite in a private cabin this time, which raised the bar for future visits. It was an incredible place to spend the night as a family. We had space to retreat when we wanted downtime away from the other guests. Also, it was easy 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 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.

Read More: Mount Engadine Lodge: The Jewel of Spray Valley Provincial Park

view of Mount Engadine Lodge

View of Mount Engadine Lodge. Photo: Tanya Koob

Mountain Biking near Mount Shark

After making our lunches and packing our bags, we headed 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 stayed at the lodge for a few days and wanted to park your car during 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.

mountain biking in Kananaskis: Family biking at Mt. Shark

On our way to Mt. Shark. Photo: Tanya Koob

I had rented a bike from the Canmore Nordic Centre for the weekend 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 as a spectacular waterfall. Needless to say, we were glad we pushed on to see it, even if it added a mile to our trip distance.

We had a fabulous day biking at Mount Shark and will 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!

Read More: 10 Snowshoe Adventures To Try This Winter in the Canadian Rockies

son and dad posed for a photo while biking to Watridge Lake

Stopping for a photo on our way to Watridge Lake. Photo: Tanya Koob

Additional Activities Nearby

Also of interest in the area is the nearby Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Here there are 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. On your way through the area, just rent a canoe or kayak at Kananaskis Village.

Read More: Winter Exploring in Alberta’s Provincial Parks

family kayaking in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

After mountain biking, try kayaking in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Photo: Tanya Koob

Go Explore Kananaskis

Kananaskis is my playground, and I enjoy discovering every corner of it, whether on snowshoes in winter or mountain biking 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!

This article was first published on July 30, 2013, and most recently updated on July 11, 2023. 

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About the author

Tanya Koob

I am the mom of an active teenage boy and I live in Calgary, Canada at the doorstep to the fabulous Rocky Mountains. Our family makes it a priority to get out to the mountains most weekends for big adventures from hiking, camping, biking, and paddling in summer to skiing and snowshoeing in winter. I am the author of the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, http://www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com/

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