Quartz Creek Snowmobile Riding Area near Golden, BC
September 12th, 2012

Quartz Creek, Golden BC

DISCLAIMER: Snowmobiling in the mountains carries inherent risk. It is up to the rider to gain the necessary training, skills and experience required for safe snowmobiling in the mountains, and to exercise caution in areas with avalanche danger and other hazards.

Quartz Creek is the most popular sledding area near Golden, BC. It consistently receives great snow, is easy to access and has a well-maintained groomed trail. There’s a large, modern day-use cabin with a covered deck at Quartz Creek. But the biggest draw for sledders is a variety of terrain that suits a wide range of experience levels.

An aerial view of the terrain at Quartz Creek, Golden BC.

Quartz Creek Snowmobile Area near Golden, BC

On any given day there will be flocks of guided beginners, boondocking freeriders, intermediate chute climbers, sno-moboarders and all tribes in-between pulling into the area. The parking lot is approximately 35km west of Golden along Highway 1 (114 km east of Revelstoke). The turn-off is well-marked along a straight section of road, which has a separate turning lane. There are two large parking lots that can accommodate large trailers. These are cleared of snow whenever possible.  Big rig drivers should be aware, however, that it snows a lot in this zone and it can be pretty common to see large enclosed trailers haphazardly jammed up because their drivers underestimated what it takes to turn into the upper left lot.  Cell phones work at the parking area and on the ridges in the zone.

The Trail

The 14km trail into the cabin is groomed multiple times a week (almost every day during busy holiday times) and the trail fee is $25. Just after the grooming shack is a large billboard explaining avalanche terrain in the zone. There is also a transceiver checker that will blink to let you know your transceiver is sending a signal. No one should proceed past this sign without a transceiver. There is also a transceiver basin up at the cabin to hone your search skills as well.

Be aware that this a popular zone, so drive with due respect for your fellow riders. The groomed trail into the area leads through forest and over creeks.  Several times a year it seems, a rider will miss a bridge and launch into one of creeks en route. So take care and keep to a reasonable speed. There is some fun boondocking along the road that can be loads of fun on deep days, usually later in the year when the snowpack is deeper.

The trail into Quartz Creek takes riders over creeks and through a scenic rock garden.

Quartz Creek Warm-Up Cabin

One of the great benefits of riding Quartz Creek is the cabin at the end of the trail. Riders can pack plenty of food and gear, which can be stashed there for the day.  You can roll-in heavy and carry extra amenities that you wouldn’t for other trips.  For heat, the cabin has a large wood-burning stove. Wood is stashed underneath the cabin, which can be accessed from the outside.

The cabin is generously maintained by the volunteers of the Golden Snowmobile Club; every year they spend hours keeping the cabin in shape, stocking wood, clearing the outhouse and cleaning up around the place. Please continue to show respect to the area and pack all your garbage—including empty beverage containers—out.  The cabin is non-smoking. This is for two obvious reasons: smoking in wood cabins can be a fire hazard and that there are a lot of groups that use this cabin every day, including children.

The cabin at Quartz Creek.

Riding Terrain at Quartz Creek

Now for the good part: the riding terrain past the cabin, of which there is plenty. The most obvious choice when leaving the cabin is to go right or left.  Technically you don’t actually have to make this choice, since you can link most of the area via the ridges, but if you don’t know where you’re going, you probably want to start with this decision.

Going Left and Old Cabin Valley

For the less capable, going left first is usually recommended.  After a short section of whooped, uphill road, you’ll enter into a wide meadow that is a great spot to get the feel of your sled and warm up on some mellow terrain. You can follow this flatter terrain all the way to the south east end of the zone, which ends at the Glacier National Park boundary. The out-of-bounds Park closure includes the large, sketchy face to the east of Old Cabin Valley. To the west are the open hills of the Top of the World riding area.

Aaron Bernasconi—owner of local snowmobile dealership Mountain Motorsports—enjoying the terrain above Old Cabin Valley.

Going Right and Prairie Hills

From the cabin, continue straight ahead and follow the fork to the right. This will take a rider up into the Prairie Hills area. There are some rolling meadows to play in along the way to some steep climbs at the back of the drainage. To the northwest are some additional bowls called Area 51 and Area 52. Watch for Glacier National Park boundary signs which indicate the closed Park area.

Tree Riding around the Cabin

One of the best features of the Quartz areas is the technical, treed boondocking around the cabin.  This is where some of the deepest and most fluffy snow falls. The trees, while tight, usually have enough space to get through. This is a great place to sharpen your skills because, for the most part, the terrain will spit you back into open areas. There are also a lot of hidden micro-openings through these threes and when you find yourself in a fresh one, it’s pretty cool.

All the usual hazards of boondocking exist here, like creeks and stumps and tree wells, so be smart when riding these trees. Tell your group roughly where you’re going and carry a radio to call for help when needed. Plenty of fun can be had on deep and low visibility days in this area. The trees offer several spots where newbies can dip their toes.

Quartz Creek Snowmobile Area Stats

  • Cabin GPS Lat and Long: N 51˚ 22’ 42.75”, W 117˚ 20’ 37.79”
  • Elevation: 1934m/6345ft
  • Distance to Golden: 35km
  • Annual Snowfall: 14m/45ft
  • Max Elevation: 2590m/8500ft
  • Distance from Parking Lot to Cabin: 14.4km
  • Terrain Rating: Beginner to Expert

For more on Quartz Creek, visit Sled Golden and Tourism Golden.

– MS

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