Hikes in Golden
Golden, BC is a prime location if you are looking for a centrally located hub from which you can explore the rugged wilderness of British Columbia’s mountains. Situated at the confluence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse rivers, this charming town is perfectly positioned to provide access to six national parks -- Yoho, Glacier, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Mount Revelstoke -- creating an endless supply of opportunities to explore the great outdoors.
Surrounded by breathtaking scenery in every direction, a trip to Golden will allow you to fully disconnect from the outside world and get in touch with the natural environment. Whether you are looking to summit challenging peaks in the Purcell, Selkirk, or Rocky mountains; navigate the region’s winding rivers and tranquil alpine lakes, or simply visit heritage and historical sites from the distant past, an excursion in the Golden area will truly open your eyes to the natural beauty in this part of British Columbia.
10 Amazing Hikes In Golden
While there are countless outdoor activities to experience in Golden, the region’s rugged mountains, dense forests, and picturesque alpine meadows create the perfect type of terrain for hiking. From beginner trails within close proximity to the town, to remote treks that require a 4x4 vehicle to access the trailhead; you will certainly be able to find the perfect trail to meet all of your hiking needs.
The mountainous terrain that surrounds Golden and makes it such a great place to explore the outdoors can also be its downfall when it comes to accessibility for inexperienced hikers. Long seen as a fairly remote area, Golden and many of its hiking trails can seem daunting to beginner hikers that are unfamiliar with the rugged terrain. This has begun to change, with easy access to the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and its network of mountain top trails, even the greenest of hikers can gain some confidence in the mountains before extending their adventures out into the remote wilderness nearby. Check out this amazing list of Golden hikes that we’ve put together below:
- Grassy Knoll (T2 Peak): This hike is a short out-and-back that sets out from the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and takes you along a ridge for some amazing views overlooking Golden. For the minimal effort required, the views along this trail are truly spectacular.
- Mount 7 Trail: The Mount 7 Trail is a right of passage for anyone in the Golden area, taking you up to the summit of this iconic peak for sweeping views of the town and surrounding mountains. The name derives from the “7” shaped patch of snow that can be found on the slopes of the mountain in the early summer. If you are only going to attempt one hike in Golden, this should probably be it.
- Cedar Lakes Trail : This hike is a peaceful stroll through a beautiful stretch of woodland terrain that will take you to a series of four tranquil lakes. The ease of accessibility of the Moonraker Trails Recreation Site and well-maintained paths make this perfectly suitable for hikers of every skill level.
- Table Mountain and Navvy Peak: This is a challenging, but rewarding climb through some steep terrain that will take you up to the summit of these two peaks. Views from the top are spectacular and include a sweeping sightline of the valley and surrounding mountains.
- Quartz Lake: Hiking up to Quartz Lake is a scenic route that will expose you to some amazingly beautiful scenery. While out on the trail, you will pass through intermittent forests, charming meadows, and climb up steep terrain to reach the picturesque alpine setting of the emerald lake.
- Frenchman’s Ridge: This is a short but steep route that climbs uphill for some amazing views overlooking the Columbia Valley. Often compared to Vancouver’s Grouse Grind, Frenchman’s Ridge is a bit more rugged, with no stairs to help you in your climb to the top of the trail.
- Wapiti Ridge: As with many other trails in the Moonraker Trails Recreation Site, this route passes through a dense stretch of woodland terrain and works around a charming lake, before climbing up to the top of the ridge. Once there, you will be treated to some amazing views overlooking the vast expanse of the Columbia Valley.
- Gorman Lake Trail: This stunning trail is a fairly short adventure west of Golden that will lead you to the shores of a charming lake. While the hike itself isn’t overly challenging, the drive into the trailhead is a rugged adventure that should only be attempted with a high clearance vehicle, making this half-day hike into a full-day adventure.
- Lower Certainty Mine Trail: Hiking the Lower Certainty Mine Trail is an amazing experience that will take you along an old mining access path for views over the valley. Try combining this with the Upper Certainty Mine Trail nearby for an even longer adventure.
- Thompson Falls: This trail is an amazingly scenic riverside adventure that will lead you through the forest alongside the Blaeberry River for views over its rushing waters. Near the end of the trail, the dense cover of the forest will break, offering an awesome sightline over the river as it plunges into a rugged canyon.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Golden?
As with many mountain towns, Golden sees a fair amount of snow in the winter, some of which can remain on the higher trails into the summer season. Depending on the type of hiking you are looking to do, the best overall time to hike in Golden is from late May to October. In this window you should be able to explore the plethora of hiking trails along the valley floor, as well as most of the routes that climb a bit higher into the rugged mountains. If you are aiming for the beginning of the season, make sure to hike the Mount 7 Trail in order to see the “7” shaped sliver of snow that remains on the mountain in the early summer. Those adventurous enough can also ski or snowboard the “7,” an iconic pastime in the area.
Other Outdoor Activities in Golden
With a wealth of stunning landscapes surrounding the town, Golden offers access to a number of different activities that will get you out exploring the rugged terrain in no time. From hiking and mountain biking through the forested slopes surrounding the town, to rock climbing and mountaineering expeditions high above the valley floor, there is no shortage of leg-driven activities to experience. If you would like to let the forces of nature take over, try paragliding high above the mountainous landscape or paddling the coursing rivers that carve up the valley floor. For those looking for a more relaxing experience, a weekend of camping in the wild or fishing on a tranquil lake will allow you to recharge and unwind from the hectic aspects of everyday life. No matter the type of adventure you are after, Golden and its stunning landscape will have you covered.
Frequently Asked Questions About Golden
What is Golden known for?
When it comes to the world of outdoor exploration, Golden is known for its stunning landscapes and its position as a central hub that offers easy access to six national parks. Within driving distance are Yoho, Glacier, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Mount Revelstoke national parks; all of which mean that your next big adventure is never too far away.
Why is it called Golden?
The name Golden can be traced back to 1884, when a nearby lumber settlement changed its name to Silver City. Not to be outdone by its neighbours, the Settlement known as McMillan’s Camp changed its name to Golden CIty as a one-up. Over time, people in the area began to feel that the name was a bit too pretentious, eventually shortening it to Golden, which has remained the name of this charming town ever since.
How far is Golden from Banff?
The distance from Golden to Banff is 98.0 km, although the actual road distance is 139.2 km. This is largely through mountainous terrain, with a driving time of 1.5-2h.
Best Hikes in Golden
Grassy Knoll (T2 Peak)
The hike up to Grassy Knoll (T2 Peak) is a quick 2.6 km out-and-back hiking route at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort that will take you up a short and scenic ridge to the summit. From here, you will have sensational views overlooking Golden and the surrounding area, including the Columbia Wetlands and the rugged Purcell Mountains. While the views on this hike seem as though they belong to some difficult-to-reach peak, the route up to Grassy Knoll is accessible and should not pose a problem to beginner hikers.
Gorman Lake Trail
The Gorman Lake Trail is a 5.8 km out-and-back hiking route through a beautiful alpine valley west of Golden, BC, that ends at the picturesque edge of Gorman Lake. The trail itself isn’t very difficult; however, the drive up to the trailhead is challenging, so make sure you have a 4x4/high clearance vehicle for the trip. If you can successfully reach the lake, the stunning views and relaxing atmosphere are sure to make you forget all about the trouble of getting there.
The hike to Thompson Falls is an 11.9 km out-and-back route that runs alongside the Blaeberry River and allows you to experience its mighty, rushing waters as they flow through a canyon. The trail is largely forested, which blocks many views of the surrounding area; however, the woodland atmosphere is relaxing, and the portions of the trail close to the river will provide some magical scenery. Bears are known to frequent this area, so make sure to bring bear spray along for this hike.
Canyon Creek Loop
The Canyon Creek Loop is a 14.5 km hiking route through the Moonraker Trails Recreation Site that utilizes several multi-use trails to form a loop around the most scenic highlights in the area. Along the trail, you will pass by the beautiful waters of the Cedar Lakes before hiking through the wetlands toward a lookout over Canyon Creek. This lengthy hike will allow you to get the most out of your day within this dense network of hiking and mountain bike trails.
Cedar Lakes Trail
The Cedar Lakes Trail is a 7.1 km hiking route in the Moonraker Trails Recreation Site near Golden, BC, that will take you through a beautiful forest landscape to the shores of four charming lakes. With minor changes in elevation and well-maintained paths, this route is perfect for hikers of all skill levels. This trail is part of a complicated and extensive network of hiking and mountain bike routes, so make sure to bring a trail map or GPS for easier navigation.
The trail to Quartz Lake is an 8.9 km out-and-back hiking route that will take you uphill through an alpine valley to the beautiful emerald waters of the lake. The trail is varied, with sections of light forest, steep trail, and often muddy paths that follow along the creek to the picturesque alpine setting of the lake. For those looking to extend their trip and explore the area over a few days, there are two tent pads, a food cache, and an outhouse at the lake for your convenience.
Frenchman’s Ridge is a 2.6 km out-and-back hiking route near Golden, BC, that traverses a steep incline to provide scenic views over the Columbia Valley. The trail is an intense uphill slog that is often compared in difficulty to Vancouver’s Grouse Grind; however, Frenchman’s Ridge differs since there are no stairs to aid in the climb. Although short and challenging, this route will reward those who persevere with awesome views.
Moonrakers Classic Short Hike
The Moonrakers Classic Short is an 8.0 km lollipop trail through the Moonraker Trails Recreation Site near Golden that takes hikers through the dense forest and past several scenic lakes. This route combines different hiking and mountain bike trails in the area, so hikers should keep an eye out for any passing cyclists and remember to share the path. Along the route, you will experience beautiful views that look out over the tranquil lakes and capture the mountainous backdrop behind.
Moonrakers Classic Medium Hike
Moonrakers Classic Medium is a 13.2 km hiking circuit near Golden, BC, that utilizes both hiking and mountain bike paths to create a fun route through the scenic woodland landscape. Similar to Moonrakers Classic Short, this route will take you along some mild elevation gains and drops as you explore the area around the Cedar Lakes and beyond. Keep an eye out for passing cyclists, and remember to share the path with those looking to pass.
The trail up to Wapiti Ridge is a 4.5 km out-and-back hiking route in the Moonraker Trails Recreation Site near Golden, BC, that will take you past a tranquil woodland lake and through the dense forest to the scenic ridgeline. From here, hikers will have a sweeping view that looks out across the Columbia Valley and the nearby peaks. Remember to bring a trail map or GPS to avoid any unnecessary detours along the dense network of trails.
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