Golden is a very dog-friendly town so it’s a little surprising that taking your dog for ski is not easy. This is mostly because our primary cross country ski area, Dawn Mountain, only has a 250 m long trail that is dog-friendly.
I accidently rescued a puppy (named Moberly) in June and have been trying to figure out the best place to ski with him, as skiing is my favourite form of winter exercise.
Moberly is a mid-sized dog (about 50 lbs) so a 250 m long trail is not going to cut it for daily exercise. Not to mention that Dawn Mountain is a 30-minute drive from where I live on the east side of the valley.
I spoke with a number of other dog owners for ideas and they recommended:
Golden Eco Adventure Ranch in Nicholson. This summertime campground has a large tract of land and they even track set on occasion. Located south of Golden proper it gets a bit less snow but it’s normally pretty good in mid-Winter.
Cedar Lake on the road up to the ski hill. This area is generally ungroomed but there are lots of options! You can ski in and around Cedar Lake and along the mountain bike single-track trails, which are regularly snow-shoed, so it is somewhat packed down. There is also the new Scalli-Mag trail that connects to the resort so you could feasibly ski right from the base area to Cedar Lake and back. I’d recommend wearing a slightly wider pair of cross-country skis for adventures in this area.
Blaeberry River Loop located north of town in the Blaeberry. This area is frequented by snowmobiles and very well packed down, albeit it can be a bit rough. There is also a resident in the area with a tracksetter so sometimes you can even find some track set along the river. It’s truly a beautiful place to ski with mostly flat or rolling terrain and, if you stay on the north side of the Blaeberry River, the snowmobile traffic is much less frequent.
My favourite place to ski is a bit closer to town, known as Hospital Creek. There is a snowmobile tour company that grooms the trails for their private tours (recommended day use fee is $10, payable at the drop box on Oster Road) so the trail is well packed. The tour groups generally travel slowly with a guide so keeping your ears open and being ready to get off the trail keeps relationships positive. This trail is a long uphill climb (and downhill on the way back) so if you want a good workout this is good.
Both the Blaeberry River Loop and Hospital Creek trail travel into avalanche terrain. You should make sure that you have basic knowledge and equipment, let somebody know where you’re going, and check avalanche conditions before you go out. None of these trails are exclusively for Nordic skiing so be respectful of other users – they’re the ones doing the grooming so we are definitely lower on the food chain. Otherwise, have a great time with your pooch!