Getting everyone and their gear to a sledding zone can sometimes be a bit of a nightmare, especially if highway conditions are less than favorable. A reliable truck with good winter tires is the best way to travel in the mountains, but what if you would rather stay off the highway altogether? Or maybe a late night caused a bit of a sleep in? Waiting for the sled shop to open to grab a jug of oil or a fresh set of goggles can mean a late start as well; the Gorman Lake riding area has it’s staging area 5 minutes from Golden and offers a solution to late starts or when the highway is closed or just not good for traveling on.
To access the Gorman lake staging area, cross the bridge over the Columbia River, head towards Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and turn right onto the Golden Golf Club road. About a kilometer down the road turn left onto Dogtooth Forest Service road and continue along until you reach the ticket booth. Trail passes are $25 (cash only) and are sold Thursday through Monday. Your trail fees are %100 returned to the user through grooming, brushing, cabin development and maintenance, etc. Grooming for the Gorman Lake trail is regularly scheduled for Thursday and Saturday evenings with extra grooms as needed.
After paying your trail fees continue along the Dogtooth Forest Service road until the 3.5 km mark where you will find a plowed parking lot to unload. The board (SledGolden) that manages the main riding areas in Golden have plans to expand the parking lot and are currently working through the grant writing process to achieve this goal. For the latest in sledding conditions and weekly grooming reports head to www.sledgolden.com for more information.
Follow the groomed trail for approximately 20 km to where the trail ends; a short climb up to the lake reveals 360 degree panoramic alpine views from Gorman Lake. Due to the technical terrain, Gorman is considered an advanced riding area and is not recommended for inexperienced sledders; the lack of trees can also make it difficult to navigate on days when visibility is not at its best.
The creek at the back of the lake leads to two different passes that allow access to two different riding areas. From the lake, the pass on the left goes into Holt creek; an endless playground of moraines that form perfect jump spots. Following the drainage down further reveals cliff drops and lots of wind lips to practice re-entries on. The pass on the right is to Lang creek; navigating down to the creek from the pass can be a bit tricky in flat light and the snow tends to be a bit thin up higher leaving some of the rocks to lurk inches below the surface. Once you have picked your way down through the creek you will find access to some hidden upper bowls with great alpine riding. Following Lang creek to the end will lead you to another pass that will take you into Cirque creek; another alpine paradise with bowls, jumps and cliffs to test anyone’s ability.
SledGolden is currently working on securing permission to build a cabin in the Gorman Lake area but for now be sure to bring some extra goggles, mitts, and maybe an extra layer for the ride out as the sun goes down behind the peaks fairly early in the afternoon.
The Gorman Lake area is one of the best spots for spring riding with its close proximity to town; showing up in the parking lot at noon isn’t uncommon as the endless alpine terrain is quickly accessed. Bring extra fuel if you plan on heading in early because it won’t be hard to run out of gas before you run of fun in one of Golden’s premier sledding areas.