Video: Sledding in Golden, BC
The mountains around Golden are easy to access—thanks to many years of industrialization—making getting to breathtaking sledding areas a breeze.
There are a lot of good things to say about the sledding around Golden. It’s got ease of accessibility, variety of terrain and convenient location, but what really stands out is the snow. Golden’s ratio of snowy to sunny days is unparalleled.
Located smack dab in the middle of two major mountain ranges, Golden is home to two distinct snowpacks and weather patterns. On one side, frequent deep snowfalls pound in from the Purcells in the south. From the other, cold winds funneling down from the Rockies in the Yoho valley help preserve the cold smoke powder. Colder temps are also associated with sunny days. Add everything together and you have yourself a recipe for frequent bluebird powder days.
If you are travelling from Alberta, Golden is the first stop on the Trans-Canada Highway past the national parks, making it the perfect destination for a quick weekend getaway, or if you are eager to make it a day trip.
The area where Golden currently stands was first discovered in 1807 by David Thompson when he crossed over the Rockies via the Howse Pass and out the Blaeberry River valley to the Columbia. It wasn’t until 1882 that a settlement was started. The settlement consisted of one building, used as a cache and basecamp for Major A.B. Rogers. Rogers was surveying the area for a route through the Selkirk Mountains for the Canadian Pacific Railway’s transcontinental railway.
In an attempt to stand out over an encampment farther east called Silver City, Roger’s cache was called Golden City. However, the anticipated large deposits of gold never surfaced and ‘City’ was dropped and the town was simply renamed ‘Golden’. The Canadian Pacific Railway used Golden as a base camp for construction and upon its completion in 1885, it remained a prominent stop on the line. The railroad also played a major role in the routing of the Trans-Canada Highway, which helped transform the basecamp/cache into the thriving community it is today.
On May 8, 1886, Captain Frank P. Armstrong piloted the steamboat, The Duchess, to Golden. The Duchess steamed from Columbia Lake, carrying supplies to keep the railway construction crews nourished. But soon, the southbound railway line was completed in 1914, making logistics easier and thus ending the short-lived steamboat era.
The railroad recognised the area as a potential base for mountaineering and hired two Swiss guides, Eduard Feuz Sr. and Christian Haesler in 1899. In 1911, CPR built homes in Golden for their sons, Edward Feuz Jr. and Christian Haesler Jr. and their fellow guides, naming it the ‘Swiss Village’ or ‘Edelweiss’.
The final construction of the line required 3000 ties per mile of track, along with bridges, snowsheds, and buildings which made the forestry industry as important to the area as the railroad.
Trail maps of all three managed riding areas can be found online, or at selected local businesses.
Quartz Creek is the flagship area in Golden and offers riding for all abilities, from rolling hills to glades to steep alpine terrain. You will find it all at Quartz. Parking is a breeze with the plowed parking lot situated right off the Trans-Canada Highway about 25 minutes west of Golden.
The parking lot accommodates large trailers in the upper lot to the left just as you turn in, and to the right is parking for trucks with decks. Go see Norm in the shack to get a trail pass, and enjoy the groomed trail right to the front door of the newly renovated cabin.
We can thank SledGolden for raising the funds, and the contractors that did the work for the new ‘leak-free’ roof as well as the timber frame roof over the deck. Quartz Creek borders Glacier National Park, and it is up to you, the rider, to inform yourself of the border and to police yourself from riding in the park; sledding in the park is very illegal and if caught you will get the maximum penalty.
There is plenty of good riding in-bounds from Old Cabin Valley to Area 51; Quartz is also home to some great sled assisted skiing/snowboarding, however it is not marked on the map so you will have to use your own discretion.
Gorman Lake is the second most popular area and is recommended for more experienced riders. There isn’t much beginner terrain past the groomed trail.
Sunny days work best with Gorman as 95% of the terrain is in the alpine; hitting Gorman on a bluebird pow day is about as close to Jesus as we will get in our lifetime. Cranking out downhill turns down to the lake or blasting through the old moraines in upper Holt are some of the best days I have ever had on a snowmobile.
Heading up and over to the northwest into Lang Creek from Gorman opens up a whole different world of options; be sure to check the map before dropping into somewhere if you are not familiar with the area.
Silent Pass is the often overlooked area in Golden. It is a little farther out-of-town than Quartz or Gorman, but is always worth the drive as it doesn’t get the traffic that the other two spots get.
There is a fair portion of the journey that follows an active logging road. Refer to signage posted on the road for radio frequencies and more info.
Silent has a mixed bag of riding to satisfy any ability—from tech trees to rolling alpine to the burn down towards the Duncan Lake side. Be careful not to drop down too far into the burn as there have been a few cold and unplanned sleepovers down there.
There are more gas stations than you can shake a stick at in Golden with every flavour and octane to satisfy whatever hunger you have. VP Racing Fuel is available at Mountain Motorsports.
Golden has the only Ski-Doo dealership in the Columbia Valley and Motortech not only sells Ski-Doo but is also an authorized warranty repair shop.
Mountain Motorsports is your Arctic Cat, Yamaha, and Polaris dealer with sales and service to match. Pick up a trail map here along with accessories from a long list of different brands.
Thinking of staying in Golden in March or April? Check out Columbia Outpost Lodge, a new private lodge that sleeps up to 16.