Set between the stunning mountain ranges of the Purcells and Rocky Mountains, the mountain town of Golden, British Columbia has the perfect location for your next summer vacation. Whether you visit one of the nearby mountain parks or spend your day on the hill, you will have an adventure to remember.
The list of fun activites is endless, but here are our Top 10 Things To Do In Golden, BC in the spring, summer and fall.
1. Mountain bike on the single-track trails of Moonraker and CBT
On the east slope of the Dogtooth Range, between Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, is an awesome network of almost 100 km of single-track trails. Each trail offers a variety of climbs and descents ranging from tight switchbacks to meandering routes. Trails climb over natural benches, ride along canyon ridges and beside mountain lakes. There are plenty of black bears in the area in spring and fall so most riders make frequent calls that will alert the bears as well as other riders.
2. Downhill mountain bike at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (KHMR) is a world class resort for biking in the summer and skiing in the winter. The bike trails at KHMR are a downhill mountain biker’s dream. There are over 50 km of trails with plenty of jumps, berms and drops for enthusiastic downhillers. The view from the top of the gondola of the Purcells and Selkirks is unbelievable in both summer and winter.
3. Hike or go on a Via Ferrata at KHMR
For those not interested in mountain biking, there are a few hikes accessible from the gondola. The trails follow high mountain ridges in the resort to give you the best panoramic views. There are also guided Via Ferrata routes at the resort.
4. See a grizzly bear up close
KHMR has a resident grizzly bear. Orphaned as a young cub, Boo lives on his own 20 acres plot in the middle of the resort’s terrain. Take guided visit to see Boo and learn more about how grizzlies live in the wild.
7. Off-road or bike to Gorman Lake
Set in a gorgeous tight cirque, cobalt coloured Gorman Lake is worth the effort to get there. On one side is a lovely open grassy meadow filled with alpine flowers, the other is a rugged moraine sweeping down to the lakeshore. You can walk around the lake to see it from all angles. The lake is also popular for fishing since the lake is stocked with trout.
A 17.2 km rough gravel road begins near the Golden Golf Club and ends at a parking lot almost 1000 m higher. You should take a high clearance 4WD vehicle as the road is very rough with numerous potholes and loose rocks.
Another option to get to Gorman is by bike. Maps.me suggests a bike route through Dawn Mountain Nordic Centre. We decided to use their route and it saved us at least 400 m elevation gain and 7 km on the road, but it’s still a long, hard ride. Biking up the last 9.6 km of gravel road was a tough grind, with over 660 m of elevation gain.
Once at the small parking lot, the hiking trail is easy and well marked. It begins on an open road, but then crosses a marsh using several boardwalks, climbs through the forest and then over a boulder field before arriving at the gorgeous lake.
There’s a small campground with 2 tent pads, a cooking area and an outhouse, but no food storage. If you leave your car overnight, bring chicken wire to wrap around your car to protect it from porcupines. They love to eat rubber from brake lines etc.
6. Hike to the top of Table Mountain
Near Golden is a short but steep hike up to the top of Table Mountain. This trail is only 5 km, but it scales an exhausting 1,230 m. The trail begins in the trees, but part way up, there are a couple of spots with great views of the Colombia Valley. The flat top lives up to its name as there is a large table plateau filled with a lovely meadow and views of the surrounding mountains. The actual summit is 100 m south, marked with a cairn, but it is an overhang so be very cautious near the edge.
7. Mountain bike on Mount 7
There are a lot of steep downhill mountain bike trails on Mount 7, but we prefer the single-track/ cross-country trail called Schacher (pronounced Shocker). It begins with a 4 km drive up Mount 7, but even with that head start you still have a quad-burning 670 m elevation to gain in the 11 km climb. The ups and downs of the trail make the gain even higher. The ride is mostly through a dense forest, but near the top the landscape opens allowing you to enjoy the view of the Colombia Valley far below. The trail ends at the main para/hang gliding launch pad where there are expansive views of the Dogtooth Range including Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, the Colombia Valley and the town of Golden. On the north side you can see Table Mountain and the Rocky Mountains.
Schacher is not a downhill run, but there are hundreds and hundreds of enjoyable switchbacks to make it a great ride both ways. If you’re missing the jumps there are a few sections where you have the option to jump off a natural feature. Don’t forget to check them out on the way up. If you prefer, take one of the black diamond downhill routes. These routes intersect with Schacher so be on the lookout for downhillers at the well-marked intersections.
If you’re not interested in biking, you can drive to the launch site on a gravel road.
Also on Mount 7 are the Mountain Shadows network of single track and downhill trails.
8. Visit a National Park
Golden is situated among six of the most beautiful national parks. With easy access, you can make a day trip by going for a hike in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Glacier, Kootenay or Mount Revelstoke National Parks. Some of our favourite day hikes are Hamilton Lake, Wapta Falls and Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park. Watch for an upcoming post with more information on these hikes.
9. Watch interesting clouds and fabulous sunsets and sunrises.
If you stay above town in the resort, you’ll have great views of the interesting clouds that often fill the Colombia Valley below. As well, the resort is a great place to watch the sunrises over the Rockies and their alpenglow during sunset.
10. Golf at the Golden Golf Club
A scenic golf course in the Colombia Valley, this 18-hole course has a classic layout with mountain views on every hole. The picture below looks toward Mount 7. It’s a community run course, and is surprisingly affordable for its stunning setting.
How to get to Golden
By car – Golden is very easy to access as its located at the intersection of the TransCanada Highway and Hwy 95. The drive is less than 3 hours from the Calgary International Airport, 2 ½ hours from Cranbrook’s airport and 4 hours from Kelowna’s airport.
Where to stay
There are many choices for accommodation in Golden and on the hill ranging from budget and bed & breakfast to luxury homes. Staying in town means you’re closer to a large amount of excellent restaurants, but have to drive 10 km to the resort. Accommodation in the resort can be more expensive, but you’ll have quick access to bike or ski and there are a few good restaurants nearby.
Where to eat
For a small town there are a remarkable number of excellent restaurants in town and on the hill. A few of our favourites are Jita’s Café for coffee, Wolf’s Den for burgers, 1122 for intimate dining, Whitetooth Brewing Co. for a cold beer, The Golden Taps Pub for a casual meal and The Island for the best patio. On the hill there are also restaurants at the resort and in the community. At the top of the gondola, Canada’s highest restaurant, Eagle’s Eye , offers not only delicious meals, but an incredible view.
For more information on Golden visit Tourism Golden.
Coming Next: Seven Summits – Climbing Kilimanjaro
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