Straddling the Rockies on one side and the prairies on the other, Alberta’s true climbing opportunities are in a fairly narrow part of the province on its southwestern side. These climbs go to high altitude, are tough and extremely beautiful. Through national parks, along scenic highways and through Canada’s Rockies, cyclists who come to Alberta to ride can test themselves on long, grueling ascents or shorter climbs in the foothills.
Marmot Basin Hill climb – Jasper – 12.9 km – 5 per cent
A climb up the ski resort in Jasper National Park, you can enjoy spectacular views and a real challenging climb that stretches for 13 km climbing an imposing 641 m. The road is wide and fairly steady to accommodate the vehicle traffic that travels to the ski area. It also offers up lovely views of the park. Beware of the steep pitches towards the top that will sting with their 18 per cent gradients.
Highwood Pass – Kananaskis – 13.7 km – 4 per cent
Highwood Pass is a big climb in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park on Alberta Highway 40 that’s almost 14 km in length with a big gain of over 500 m. Very steady with the toughest section only 7.5 per cent there’s a section of downhill towards the middle until the unrelenting top section take you to 2,114 m. On the ascent you’ll enjoy big mountain views.
Edith Cavell – Jasper – 11.8 km – 4 per cent
Off the Icefields Parkway near Jasper is the climb up Edith Cavell which is located in the Athabasca River and Astoria River valleys of Jasper National Park. The climb is long and in places very inconsistent with brief sections above 15 per cent. The climb ends at a beautiful lake up top.
Moraine Lake – Lake Louise – 8.5 km – 4 per cent
The road up to Moraine Lake is incredible and a good challenge on the bike. At 8.5 km long at an average of 4 per cent with long parts at 7 per cent, the road is nicely paved to handle the high tourist traffic up the lake. Try and avoid peak hours to avoid some of the traffic. Make sure to keep going after you reach the top of the climb proper to enjoy the views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Mt. Norquay – Banff – 5 km – 6 per cent
The climb of Mt. Norquay switchbacks it’s way up 280 m in 5 km. Never overly challenging with a max gradient of 8 per cent so you can enjoy the stunning views of Banff far down below. Make sure to stop at the Banff lookout for a breather and a photo op with the town far below.
Icefields Pkwy Climb – Banff – 5.5 km – 4 per cent
In Banff National Park, there are many beautiful climbing opportunities on the Icefields Parkway. The scenic route is 268 km running north to south from Jasper, Alta. to Vermillion, B.C.. The climb next to Mount Murchison is one of the more popular for cyclists along the route with mountain views and a very steady 4 per cent gradient.
Elbow Falls Climb – Bragg Creek – 3.5 km – 6 per cent
In the foothills of the Rockies to the west of Calgary, cyclists will find the extremely popular climb of Elbow Falls. The climb is on Highway 66 offering a beautiful well-paved road. The climb never kicks up above 10 per cent making it great for training efforts.
Edworthy to Coach Hill – Calgary – 3.2 km – 5 per cent
In Calgary on the south side of the Bow River is the popular climb that begins in Edworthy Park and ascends to the top of Coach Hill. The climb kicks up to 10 per cent.
Cochrane Hill – Cochrane – 2.9 km – 6 per cent
The climb up Cochrane Hill starts in the community to the west of Calgary. Over its length, it climbs 186 m but compared to some of the provinces bigger climbs is a short effort to the top where you can enjoy views over the surrounding area. The climb tops out at 10 per cent.
The Lake Louise Chateau Climb – Lake Louise – 3.2 km – 6 per cent
One of the top tourist attractions in Alberta and all of Canada, Lake Louise is a stunning place to ride your bike making the climb up to the chateau from the center of town well worth your time. Like other busy tourist destination, it’s nice to avoid the traffic by riding in off-hours when the road is slightly less busy. Make sure you bring your camera to capture the areas beauty.