If you’re looking to get your fill of trail kilometers, Golden is a great place to set up your base camp. Golden is perfectly situated near 6 national parks with a plethora of trails in its own right, so you can’t really go wrong, unless you’re really bad with maps and directions.
Here are my favourite 30+ km runs to hit in the Golden area are:
Terminator (T4) Ridge (35 km), Golden, BC
The terminator ridge loop is just less than 35 km with more than 1300m of elevation gain. It sounds like a doozy, but it’s really worth it as more than a third of the run is on the rim of a deep drainage/canyon with spectacular views into the Purcell Mountains.
Get after it: Park your car at the Cedar Lake trailhead which is super easy to find, following signs and or maps. Use the Arrowhead, Devil’s Slide and Klahowya trails to navigate from Cedar Lake out to Canyon Creek. Once at the creek, take a moment to absorb the views before heading up the Canyon Creek trail, then up the LSD trail, then up the T4 Trail. These are all pretty easy to find on Trail Forks or Golden Ultra’s website (hint: this is the “upper half” of the Golden Ultra 60 km course). All of the up trails are also popular down trails for mountain bikers, so keep your head up and eyes open.
(Photo: Bruno Long)
Once at the top of the Kicking Horse Resort you can use the Gondola or any of their many trails to descend to the bottom. The fastest route will be about 6 km on trails, the 10 km “Ten Road” is also an option, and certainly the easiest on the joints.
From the base of the resort, use the ScalliMag Trail to get back to the Cedar Lake network, and then switch to Odonata to get you as close as possible to the parking lot where you left your car. Cedar Lake is, conveniently, nearby and worth a quick plunge to cool off and relax.
Burgess Pass to Iceline Trail (35 km), Yoho National Park
This run links two classics into one epically beautiful run. The Burgess Pass extension gives stunning views of Emerald Lake from the Emerald Triangle Loop, while the Iceline Trail is legendary for it’s incredible views of the Emerald Glacier and Takkakaw Falls.
Get after it: This run requires a car shuttle. Park one vehicle at Takkakaw Falls and then drive back to the trailhead for Burgess Pass. There is no signage for the Burgess Pass trailhead from the TransCanada Highway, so make sure you have a good idea of where it is (approximately 0.5 km east of Field on the north side of the highway).
(Photo: Magi Scallion)
There is only one trail up Burgess Pass so just go for it. If you notice a fork, stay right and head uphill. Once at the top of the pass you get your first stunner of a view down at Emerald Lake. Turn “right” here (east) and follow the trail as it takes a highline around the east side of Emerald Lake with spectacular mountain views. After about 6 km of alpine running, you’ll hang a right toward the Little Yoho Lake and from there descend toward Takkakaw Falls. Watch for the intersection of the Iceline Trail on your left after about 2 km!
The Iceline trail is a stunner as you spend nearly half of the 20 km distance in an eerie moonscape at the toe of the Emerald Glacier. The lakes are chilly but worth a dip on a hot day!
After descending back into the forest you’re on the home stretch with mostly gradual downhill back to your vehicle at Takkakaw Falls. Be sure to take in Laughing Falls on the main trail back. If you’re keen for more, throw in the out-and-back options at Kiewetinok Pass and Whaleback/Twin Falls to increase the distance to 40+ km.
Rockwall Trail (55 km), Kootenay National Park
The mother of Canadian Rockies Epic Runs, the Rockwall Trail in its full glory is 55 km. Conveniently there are a few access/egress options that can reduce your commitment to as little as just over 20 km. But if you’re going to do the car shuttle you might as well run the entire trail, right?
Get after it: Most groups choose to run this trail in the southerly direction, starting at Paint Pots and ending at Floe Creek. This is most conveniently shuttled by heading south from Golden to Radium and then into Kootenay Park. The car you drop first will be the one you hop into at the end of your run. You can drive back to Golden by completing the circle (taking Highway 93 to Castle Junction, then Highway 1 to Golden) and enjoying lots of spectacular scenery and bakeshops along the way.
(photo: Kelly Kokolski)
Starting at Paint Pots the trail is pretty mellow up Helmet Creek until you start ascending Rockwall Pass, approximately 15 km into your run. The trail is well signed so stay the course until you reach the Floe Creek exit spot.
If you’re not feeling it or having a rough day, you can certainly bail out earlier – the Tumbling Creek Trail will take you back to Paint Pots, Numa Creek will hit the highway between Floe Creek and Paint Pots where you could hitchhike in either direction. There are also two trails that access the Rockwall Trail from the “Golden Side”, off Highway 1. Those are the Goodsir Pass Trail and Wolverine Pass Trail. The shuttle for those trails is much more committing but they’re a bit wilder and a nice feather in the cap if you’re up for something new!
There you have it, 3 runs that will not disappoint the eyes and will challenge your legs.