Generally, the further west down the Columbia valley one travels, the more snow you will find; the further east down the valley, there are more sunny days. Golden is kinda smack dab in the middle of the delicate balance between sun and snow. The cold weather blowing from the Rockies in the Yoho valley keeps temps cold, the sun out, and the snow light and dry throughout the season. Golden is all about having the best of both worlds.
Once the days get a little longer, and all the sun is nuclear, it’s time to head into Gorman Lake; Golden’s second most popular riding area. Gorman offers great spring conditions and lots of great spots to build a jump and get sendy, or if gravity is more your style and you want to hang out on the ground and watch, there’s plenty of room for that too.
Sending it into spring like...
Head across the Columbia River on the bridge that goes to the ski hill, a hundred meters or so, on the other side of the bridge turn right onto the golf course road. Follow the paved road for about a kilometer then turn onto the Dogtooth Forest service road. Continue along until you reach the ticket booth, and if you don’t have a seasons trail pass (available at www.sledgolden.com) the daily trail pass is $25; bring cash or credit card, no debit, sorry. The road is steep and windy past the booth but very quickly empties into the parking lot/staging area.
The groomed trail passes by some breathtaking views of a number of tall peaks in the Dogtooth range as it winds its way up towards the alpine, ending at the bottom of the first climb that heads up towards the lake. Once up at the lake, most people head across to the other side and start the climb either into Lang Creek or Holt creek. Lang Creek has enough bowls and tree riding to keep any group busy for an entire weekend; Holt Creek offers lots of natural jumps in the alpine and down lower gets a little tight in the trees but there are still good lines to be had.
Both Holt and Lang Creek are best on a sunny day as the entrances into both zones cross through some high alpine that can yield both flat light, bad vis, and high winds making it tricky to navigate the undulating terrain, so keep that in mind. Luckily, spring brings the sun, long days, and the visibility to go the distance through all of the areas accessed from Gorman Lake.
Because Gorman is so close to town it is also my pick for late starts; when the sun is out till 7 or 8, starting at noon doesn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore. Celebrate the dog days of winter with a trip to Gorman and don’t forget your sunscreen.
Check www.sledglden.com for grooming conditions and weather conditions.