Monday, June 25, 2018

Family Adventure Bucket List for Golden, BC

Like many, my family has been guilty of using the town of Golden as a "refueling station," stopping for gas, coffee, or a quick bite to eat on our way to Revelstoke and beyond (usually heading towards the Okanagan on our summer vacation.)

Family Adventure Bucket List for Golden, BC

Golden as a Destination!

My family is well acquainted with the motels in Golden, frequently pulling into town for a night on our way out west, and I could easily list every fast food restaurant in town. Beyond that though, we'd never really thought much about spending an entire weekend in Golden. It was never a "destination" for us.

This started to change for me last summer though when I visited Golden for a guided Via Ferrata climbing tour at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Golden was actually our destination for that trip, and even though we only spent one night in town, we didn't drive any further. My girlfriend and I actually drove to Golden because we wanted to visit Golden!

Doesn't this look awesome?!! (Kicking Horse Via Ferrata)

My family recently spent a weekend in Golden and once again I was made aware that Golden is so much more than a "refueling stop," more than a quick overnight stay on the way to the coast, and much more than the highway you see driving through town.

Family hiking at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

If you aren't exactly sure where Golden is, visit the Tourism Golden website. Then check out my adventure bucket list below. I've got it on a notepad on my phone and am excited to check off one or two adventures each summer.

Family Adventure Bucket List for Golden, BC 

1. Say hi to Boo, the resident grizzly bear, at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Boo lives in the "largest enclosed and protected grizzly bear habitat in the world" and you'll get to enjoy a scenic chairlift ride to access the grizzly bear refuge at the resort. (words quoted from the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort website.)

Meet Boo in his wildlife refuge in Golden  (Photo credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

2. Climb to the top of Terminator Peak at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Reaching the top of Terminator Peak requires a short 1-2 hour hike that most families will enjoy. The trailhead is accessed by gondola where you'll do most of your height gain for the day.

And if you have teenagers in the family you can try the guided Via Ferrata climbing adventure

Climbing Terminator Peak on the Via Ferrata Climbing Route 

3. Try the brand new disc golf course at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Definitely one of the only lift-accessed disc golf courses in the Canadian Rockies. Ride the scenic chairlift and then play a round of disc golf as you hike back down to the bottom of the resort.

This activity makes for a great addition to the grizzly bear refuge tour since you'll be riding the same chairlift.

Note to access the course you need to purchase a Grizzly Bear Refuge ticket or Adventure Pass ticket and then ride the Catamount Chair to mid-station

Ride a chairlift up the mountain and then play disc golf as you hike back down

4. Have lunch on top of a mountain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Ride the gondola to the top of the mountain and then enjoy a decadent lunch at the Eagle's Eye Restaurant, "Canada's most elevated dining experience." - quote from the KHMR website.

You can go for a short hike while you're there as well and marvel in the views of the Columbia Valley spread out below you.

Enjoy mountain top dining in the Eagle's Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

5. Try downhill lift-accessed mountain biking at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

This one is very high on my son's list and he's already memorized the trails he wants to ride.

Enjoy all the thrill of downhill mountain biking with none of the work climbing up the mountain first! Sounds pretty good, right? And don't worry if you aren't the most "experienced" rider because there is a good selection of trails for all abilities. The resort also rents bikes and protective gear to keep you safe.

Mountain biking at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (photo credit: Dave Best)

6. Try rafting on the Kicking Horse River

There are at least 5 different companies operating rafting tours on the wild and adventurous Kicking Horse River, so choose one that offers a tour your family would enjoy and discover why this river has been named "one of the wildest and most intense recreational waterways in Canada." (Quote from Tourism Golden)

And don't worry if you've never tried whitewater rafting before because there are many different kinds of tours available in Golden. Family float trips focus on safety and a gentle introduction to the river, some trips suitable for children as young as 4 years old.

Rafting on the Kicking Horse River (photo: Alpine Rafting)

7. Explore the Columbia River by canoe, kayak, or stand up paddleboard

The Columbia River gently winds its way through Golden and "is home to the largest intact wetlands in North America." (quote from Tourism Golden)

My family loves kayaking and stand up paddleboarding down this river and has done numerous day trips through the Columbia Valley as well as one overnight trip where we camped alongside the river on a beautiful little beach we found.

Family float trip down the Columbia River

8. Bike the family-friendly Rotary Trails around town

Start at the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge downtown Golden (the longest timber-frame, covered pedestrian bridge in Canada) and hop on the family-friendly rotary trails for a leisurely ride around town with the kids. The Rotary Loop is a 7km long wide gravel pathway that circles the town. It is chariot-friendly and great for novice riders.

Along your way, stop at the town pump track and skills park located behind the Mt. 7 Rec Plex, visit the skate park next door, or stop in for a swim at the outdoor pool.

See a town map here (with the bridge located at Spirit Square.)

Note as of 2021 the pump track has been paved and now its a flowy smooth asphalt track.

The brand new asphalt pump track in Golden 

9. Explore the cross country mountain bike trails around town

Warm up with a couple family practice loops on "Bush Party," part of the Mountain Shadows Trail Network, and then move over to the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) Trails for some smooth, fast singletrack excitement off the CBT Mainline Trail. My son especially loved the "Mighty Quinn Trail."

Beyond those suggestions, stop in at a bike shop in town for more recommendations or inquire at the town visitor centre. Our go to source for trails is always the Trail Forks app - where you can look over all the bike trails in Golden

Regardless of which trails you try, make lots of noise. We saw a bear just as we were getting into our truck at one of the CBT trailheads.

Mountain biking on the CBT Trail Network in Golden

And for some fun downhill biking, try shuttling the family on Mount 7 where you might get to see paragliders take off from the launch site. My son loves the Schacher Trail which starts from the launch site and descends 1200 metres. For a pleasurable experience (without climbing the trail first) you'll need an adult who can drive down to the bottom while a second adult rides down with the kids.

This ride is rated intermediate but I would recommend it for strong youth who can handle a lot of berms and tight switchbacks. You'll have hundreds of them as you make your way down.

Park at Reflection Lake to wait for your riders at the bottom. And for the riders, when the Schacher ends, hop on Wood Lot and Premature to reach Reflection Lake. 

Standing on the launch pad on the Summit of Mount 7 above Golden

10. Take a Day Trip into Yoho National Park

My family loves Yoho National Park and there is no shortage of awesome places to visit in this park. Below are a few ideas to get you started:

Paddling on Emerald Lake 

Other Activities to Try Near Golden 

  1. Visit the Northern Lights Wolf Centre outside Golden

  2. Enjoy a restful beach day at Cedar Lake (perfect for a calm paddle, swimming, or playing in the sand)

  3. Visit the Dogtooth Indoor Climbing Gym  (Perfect for a rainy day in Golden or if you just need a break from the sun)

  4. Take a day trip to Glacier National Park (located between Golden and Revelstoke)  - and this would be the Canadian park (not to be confused with the American one by the same name.)  - Hiking trails in Glacier National Park can be found here.

  5. Take your older kids or teens on an off roading adventure 

Asulkan Valley Hiking Trail, Glacier National Park 

Where we Stayed on our Recent Trip to Golden 

We spent two nights at the Kicking Horse Kabins just outside Golden in the Blaeberry Valley. It was approximately a 20 minute drive away so we made sure that when we left our house Saturday morning, we had everything we'd need until we returned for dinner that evening.

Our accommodations in Golden, the Kicking Horse Kabins

We loved our accommodations with the highlights below:

We had a large house all to ourselves. Our cabin had three bedrooms upstairs (we only used two of them,) a comfortable living area on the main area, a very large dining room table (perfect if you're sharing the house with another family,) and a small kitchen that had everything we needed to cook our own meals.

We had a barbecue outside as well which was great for an easy dinner. We just picked up some steaks and corn in town, and that was our evening meal.

We loved the outdoor hot tub - that again, we had all to ourselves since it was a private house rental. The hot tub was located right outside the back deck and was protected by the large awning on the house, keeping us, the patio furniture, and the barbecue dry in case it rained - which it did.

Backyard with hot tub, barbecue, and private deck

We loved the farm atmosphere - There was nothing around our house except for other farms and acreages. It was very quiet and we didn't have to worry about loud neighbors partying in a hotel room beside us.

We got to listen to wolves howling at night - There's a nearby Wolf sanctuary and we got to listen to the wolves barking and howling every evening. That was probably one of the biggest highlights to staying at the Kicking Horse Kabins.

The cabin would be great with another family - With three bedrooms upstairs, and a pull out sofa, there was plenty of room for two families. It would be a great place to stay in summer or winter, and I've already got my eye on the place for a winter ski trip.

There was also a fire pit in the backyard which would have been a great way to spend the evening with friends after the kids were in bed.

Cozy living area in our cabin 

The food!!! - Owner, Karen Breedon, lives in the house behind the rental cabin (across a large field in case you're wondering about privacy, and she brought us fresh breakfast ingredients each day along with a freshly baked decadent dessert Saturday night. She would have brought us homemade pizza Friday night too but we didn't arrive in time.

Meals can be added on to all stays, and I highly recommend taking advantage of Karen's home cooking. We had freshly baked bread, muffins, cookies, and other goodies, enjoyed farm fresh eggs, bacon, and sausages, homemade buttermilk pancake mix, and condiments as necessary to enjoy our breakfasts.

The meals definitely take this lodging up a notch and set it apart from the other rental options in Golden.

Space for friends 

Thanks to Tourism Golden for sponsoring our trip to Golden and for Karen's hospitality at the Kicking Horse Kabins. 


  1. Sounds like a perfect mountain adventure vacation! With so much to do, I think we could spend a month there and never get bored :)