Golden Triangle – Hidden gems are golden
Strolling a path or riding a bike along trails where your only companions are those that live in the wilds is a treat. Finding those gems creates a conundrum though. Do you tell anyone? Or do you keep your treasure to yourself? The good news is, The Golden Triangle is loaded with hidden gems. Here’s a three-day tour to hike, bike and explore the not-so-busy gems. This blog starts in Golden travelling east first but it's easy to do either way.
Golden offers pleasant hikes to fascinating waterfalls
Golden has a couple hikes that are perfect for solitude. A stroll up to Thompson Falls is not just a visit to incredible waterfalls, it’s also a step into Canadian history. The Blaeberry River Valley was used by the Canadian Indigenous peoples and later by David Thompson who mapped the western frontier.
The trail starts at the map kiosk just beyond the Redburn Creek Rec Site campground on the Moberly Road and follows the river for 6 km. If you just want to see Thompson Falls without the journey, continue past the campground 6 km. The Blaeberry River tumbles and snakes though a few tight gorges where logs are still jammed since the spring rush. You can stand on the ledge where water has carved smooth routes through the rock.
South of Golden accessed through Nicholson is a 4 km hike through a dense forest to views of a spectacular deep canyon on the Canyon Creek trail. We have approached the rim on bikes from Moonraker Trails but the hike up from the hamlet is pleasant. It’s steep to start then continues at a steady climb. Canyon Creek is a very narrow gorge demonstrating the power of water etching through soft rock. Insider tip - watch for mountain goats.
Make sure you stay in Golden long enough to stroll across the wooden bridge and stop for a refreshment at any of the new patios fringing the new promenade along the Kicking Horse River.
Yoho National Park offers secret picnic sites, hikes and a tour through historic Field
Yoho may be a small National Park but it packs a punch. So, bring a lunch, your all-weather jackets and bear spray and head for an adventure.
When we hiked the Hoodoo Trail, there were only three other small groups on the trail. And they were all visiting from Europe. Someone must have written about it over there. And with good reason. This short and steep 5.2 km (return) hike rewards the hardy hiker with views of towering hoodoos. The geological gems compete with the conifers for height. They are massive! The trail splits so you can view from below or from above. We did both.
Only minutes from Hoodoo Trail is the Faeder Lake day-use area. Stop in for a quick dip in the shallow mountain lake. Insider tip - walk three minutes to the other side of the lake for an epic photo of Chancellor Peak reflecting in the calm water.
Pack a lunch in your daypack from one of the cafes in Field, and enjoy a picnic along the shores of Sherbrooke Lake. The trail is only 6. 2 km (return) but offers that classic view of towering peaks, glaciers, and wildflowers. If you’d like to add a thigh burner, continue on to the abandoned Paget Fire Lookout. Knowing that it was for spotting fires, you know the view will be unencumbered.
The gems don’t always have to be far from the car. Field is small enough to walk the entire town on a self-guided tour. It has quite the history with the railway and the fossil beds that surround it. There are quite a few B&Bs to tempt you to stay over.
Kootenay National Park and Radium round out your journey
Stanley Glacier hike can be completed in three hours but then, what’s the rush? The trail signs say it’s a moderate hike but that’s because the first bit before you burst through the trees is a bit of a switchback grind. Beyond that, it’s an easy incline surrounded by stunning views. It doesn’t take long to reach the 4.2 km sign, signifying the end of the maintained trail but that’s where it gets really interesting. The additional strenuous 3 km loop takes you to views of Stanley Glacier, under a waterfall, or through rubble that tumbles from the cliffs hiding fossils. My family of amateur paleontologists were sidetracked with the first sighting of a trilobite. Guided hikes are available through Parks Canada if you want to learn more about the fossils.
You don’t need an excuse to say ahhhh in Radium
A soak in the soothing hot springs in Radium is such a luxury. How many pools in the world have such a beautiful backdrop? Sit back and enjoy the experience. Then, take a walk through town. I love the new traffic circle! Not just because it eases the traffic congestion, it has the biggest set of bighorn sheep horns you’ve ever seen. Not exactly hidden but totally a gem! Speaking of Bighorn Sheep, there is a herd that lives near town. It's highly likely you will see them. Stop in town for a Segway tour or drop the bikes off the rack to take a ride on the easy 6 km Sinclair Creek Trail.
The stretch of highway 95 between Radium and Golden follows the sluggish Columbia River. The more it meanders the more wetland habitat for waterfowl and wildlife is formed. I’ve watched so many people in kayaks drift along. Maybe next time it will be me.