Adventures await when you tour the Golden Triangle
Do you ever get halfway through a tough section of an adventure and question why you even started it? But then the ridge or the peak come into view, the river bends, and you can see the finish line? That is the adrenaline we all crave. Yes, that effort was worth it. The Golden Triangle, that includes Kootenay and Yoho National Parks, and the mountains, rivers and valleys that connect them between Golden and Radium, offer endless adventures to challenge you to reach that breathtaking goal.
Take a look at the adventures that will plaster that “Yeah, I did it!” smile on your face.
Pick your adventure on Highway 93
Floe Lake accessed from Highway 93 is a classic mountain trail that will test your lungs and legs. At 21 km return with an elevation gain of over 1000 meters it’s a grind. But as always, worth the effort. Shortly after leaving the parking lot the trail crosses two dreamy powder blue rivers before starting the switchbacks. Prior to 2003 it was a dense forest, but the fire cleared that out. Trying to make lemonade out of the tragic loss means I focus on the unobstructed views, the regrowth, and the amazing array of wildflowers blanketing the landscape. A few more switchbacks finally brings Floe Lake into sight surrounded by massive grey layers of sedimentary rocks skirted by mini glaciers that somehow survive the summer heat. Toss down the pack and pull out a snack and watch the shadows move across that view. Consider booking a backcountry camping spot to extend your stay. I can say that the view is gorgeous during a sunset.
Hey, have you stopped in Radium lately? It’s a perfect basecamp for adventure. If your bike is on the bumper, there are hundreds of kilometres to rip. If it’s early June and you are hardcore sign up for the 50 km single track Kootenay Krusher race. If you love trail running, the rolling path through Sinclair Canyon is perfect.
North of Radium, Highway 95 follows the Columbia River as it weaves through a massive wetland. Dropping a paddleboard or a kayak in to drift along the lazy river is a great way to enjoy the afternoon.
Yoho National Park is more than just rocks.
I’m not going to lie; the Burgess Shale Guided Fossil Hikes are a bit daunting but well worth the effort. The guides take a slow steady pace up to either the Mount Stephen Trilobite Beds at 8km round trip and 800 metres of elevation gain, or the 22 km round trip tour to the Walcott Quarry with the same elevation gain. The Walcott Quarry however offers a fossil bed unseen by the rest of the world and a spectacular view of both Takkakaw Falls and Emerald Lake from above. Access to these protected UNESCO sites is forbidden without the guides.
If finding trilobite fossils the size of a football isn’t your fancy, a hike on the top of the world might do the trick. The Iceline Trail can be done as a day trip or spread out over a few days on a loop. We packed for a day hike and with many other back-country enthusiasts, hit the trail at the Takakkaw Falls parking lot. With 3 km of steep switchbacks in the trees, you soon lose the crowds and drink in the views that get better and better. Looking down at Takakkaw Falls – the second tallest waterfall in Canada is surreal.
Finish the day counting stars while camping at any of the National Park campgrounds along the highway. There are soooo many stars up there!
Golden has upped the summertime thrills
My legs were vibrating like a sewing machine jammed on a stitch. I used to be a rock climber, why was this happening! I was clipped in, holding onto the cable with both hands and looking down at the plank path suspended above T1 at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. My inside voice laughed at me, “You better buck up, princess. You signed on for the longest tour.”
The three-hour Ascension Route was about to take me across the mountain top using iron rung ladders bolted to the rock, steel cables, ladders, rock paths and that dreaded suspension bridge. Don’t worry, within the first few steps, I was my old self leaping out of my comfort zone. Using the secured holds made it easy to maneuver across the chasms, up the rock faces and over the ridges. The joys of seeing the world from the ridges far above the valley was worth all the grunting.
Also in Golden is the new Golden Skybridge with two of Canada’s highest suspension bridges draped 130 metres (426 ft) above the expansive canyon and waterfall. It opened in 2021 and every time I stop by, there are more adventures to do. Walk across the suspension bridges, fly across the gorge on the zipline and play - and I really mean play in the Canyon Edge Challenge Course. It is so fun with the challenges that test your balance, agility, and that comfort zone again.
If you like downhill mountain biking or ripping through the trees on rolling single tracks, check out the trails on Mount 7 and the Moonraker trails on Whitetooth Mountain. You will be pleased. Oh, and cap the day off at Whitetooth Brewery in Golden for a pint. You deserve it!