Golden is recognized as a mountain bike destination with more than 120 kilometers of sweet, flowy, forested singletrack. It’s no surprise then, that the trail running is also world class.
News Flash: Trail running on “mountain bike” trails is not only great, but also permitted and highly recommended!
With that all cleared up, the question then becomes, “where is the best place to go trail running in Golden?” Tourism Golden prints maps annually (look for the date on the cover) that keep pace with all the new trail development, or you can download the digital version. You can also find all of the trails on the Golden Cycling Club’s app (Golden BC Trails in the app store) and TrailForks (another great free app).
While those resources are fantastic, it certainly does not answer the original question of “the best place to run in Golden.” To answer that question, you actually have to take a deep look into your motivation and running history. Here are a few “quick and dirt-y” (haha, get it?) recommendations:
Running from Town – You can get to anywhere from the Rotary Trails – approximately 10 km of mostly flat, double-wide gravel based trails that circle the Town of Golden, including beautiful stretches along the Kicking Horse and Columbia Rivers. The best place to hit from down-town, hotel, or coffee shop is the more technical but still awesome Mountain Shadows trail system.
Mountain Shadows - From town it’s about 2 km to the single track and there you can mix and match some loops to reach up to 25 km ... or more as the network grows. The plan is to build a trail that reaches the 13 km point (“the lookout”) on the side of the mountain, below the giant 7. Trails not to be missed in Mountain Shadows include Selkirk Slacker, Magic Dragon and Rock-about. Cliffside is also amazing but sometimes hard to navigate due to a lot of intersections with trails-bike trails.
So you’ve got a car and the sky is the limit... consider driving about 2 km out of town toward Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to hit the CBT Mainline and Moonraker networks. If you ask the local trail runners what their favourite trail is, it’s likely going to be CBT Mainline.
CBT Mainline is a classic and you can easily run it “out and back” or take alternate down routes including the Mighty Quinn or Gold Rush. The options and kilometres are limitless as you can also continue on to the Moonrakers (via Cedar Lake, also an option to park at Cedar Lake and swim in the lake after a hot run). The Moonraker system alone has 60+ km of trail including a trail known as T4 that summits Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Wait until July before attempting that adventure, though as you’ll not want to encounter snow!
Trails not to miss in the Moonrakers include Arrowhead, Tonight Tequila, Cedar Snag and Canyon Creek. Canyon Creek is a bit of a trek (7 km one way, direct) but so worth it to see the spectacular canyon.
If you’re new to town or passing through consider posting on the Golden Run for your Life Trail Runners group on Facebook. There’s a friendly group of runners who are always looking for an excuse to tour their favourite trails. I might even respond to your post and then you’ll get trail full of punny comments.