photo: Nicole Gaboury/Parks Canada

Awesome Alberta Cycling Day Trips

By Cailynn Klingbeil

Embarking on a road trip is a great way to create lasting family memories—especially if you do it on two wheels. Throughout the province, numerous routes feature varied length and terrain, ensuring there are options for all abilities. And if you hit a bump in the trail, remember that AMA rescues bikes, too. You don’t need a car to use your membership!

JASPER DISCOVERY TRAIL
This multi-use trail loops around the town of Jasper and can be accessed nearly anywhere along the town’s borders. Pick it up in front of Parks Canada’s Jasper Information Centre on Connaught Drive, then follow the trail markers with a bear head. The 8.3-kilometre path, rated easy to moderate, is split into three sections. Bike one part or explore the entire loop, plus the path links to a handful of other nearby trails, such as the popular Mina-Riley Lakes Loop or the Wapiti Trail, which leads to two nearby campgrounds. End your ride with a sweet treat at the Bear’s Paw Bakery or its sister The Other Paw Bakery Café, both located conveniently close to the trail.

KOOTENAI BROWN TRAIL
In Waterton Lakes National Park, rent a ride from local gas station Pat’s Waterton (their fleet includes tandem bicycles) and head out on this gorgeous trail. The multi-use paved pathway, named after John George Kootenai Brown, the park’s first superintendent, links the Waterton town site with the park gates 6.9 kilometres away. Here, you’ll experience stunning views of Waterton Lakes and nearby mountains. This trail is separated from vehicles, making it perfect for riders of all ages and abilities.

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LACOMBE TO RED DEER VIA THE CALGARY AND EDMONTON TRAIL
Explore Central Alberta by bike, along the historical Calgary and Edmonton Trail. Also known as the C&E Trail, the route once linked Fort Calgary and Fort Edmonton. Start at the Lacombe Research Centre, home to a dedicated weed garden, then ride through quiet rural countryside and past Lacombe Lake. Continue to the town of Blackfalds for the only indoor section of the Trans Canada Trail, at the Abbey Centre. Carefully cross a highway outside Blackfalds, then just before Red Deer you’ll reach the Blindman River crossing. An out-and-back trip along this route will take around three to four hours and cover nearly 40 kilometres.

Alberta cycling day trips cypress hills park
Riding the boardwalk in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (photo: Doran Clark/Travel Alberta)

CYPRESS HILLS INTERPROVINCIAL PARK
There are more than 75 kilometres of trails to ride in this park, which straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. Multiple routes of varied difficulty wind through Cypress Hills’ diverse landscape, including grasslands, marshes and forests. If it’s views you’re after, try mountain biking the 4.1-kilometre (one way) Horseshoe Canyon Trail, located at the western end of the park’s Alberta side. After 190 metres of elevation gain, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the Horseshoe Canyon landslide.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN LEGACY TRAIL
Keeping your eyes on the trail might be the hardest part of this scenic trail between Canmore and Banff, which guides riders on a paved pathway beside the Trans Canada Highway. The nearly 27-kilometre (one way) cycle is estimated to take two to three hours to complete as a round trip, though you’ll likely want to plan for a stop at the Valley View Day Use Area, a pretty halfway point with a picnic area.

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IRON HORSE TRAIL
Explore northeast Alberta on this abandoned rail line, which has been converted into 300 kilometres of continuous multi-use trails that pass through numerous communities and towns. Abilene Junction, near Ashmont (northeast of Edmonton) is considered “mile zero.” From there the trail branches southeast, west and northeast. While some parts of the path are too rocky or soft for cycling, ambitious riders are encouraged to try the nearly 70-kilometre trip from St. Paul to Heinsburg, parts of which parallel the Carlton Trail, a historic fur trade route.

TOUR DE L’ALBERTA
More than 20 years after the Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club started the Tour de l’Alberta—a ride intended to celebrate the Tour de France in French communities, and promote recreational cycling—the event is still going strong. This year’s ride, on July 24, starts and ends in the town of Beaumont, with 50-, 100- and 160-kilometre tour options, as well as a family ride. Participation and recreation are emphasized over competition, so there’s no need to feel intimidated. If you’d rather ride solo, however, head to tourdalberta.ca for a course map and try the route on your own time. 

WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED
AMA Bike Assist lets you use any of your annual service calls to get help if your bicycle breaks down while you’re riding. We’ll deliver air for flats, adjust chains and tighten loose handlebars. If we can’t fix it on the spot, we’ll transport your bike back home or to a repair shop.

HOW TO SAVE
Oftentimes a car ride out of urban centres is needed to take you to the most desirable cycling routes. Fill your tank and pump more money into your wallet with a prepaid reloadable Esso Card. Pick up a card at any AMA centre to earn 2 percent back in reward dollars on the purchase amount. Plus, earn 2 percent every time you reload the card in-centre or online, or set up Automatic Reload—we’ll maintain your card’s balance as you use it. All you need is a credit card and we’ll make sure your savings never run out of gas.