Nothing beats a cold shower, sipping a well-earned beer in a hot tub and then crawling into a cloud like bed with the smell of fresh mountain air after a day of hiking. While not to under play the epiceness of the mountains, there’s something to be said about being able to retreat to comfort and maybe even luxury after a day on the trail. Staging your summer hiking adventures from the base of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort will not disappoint, the variety of adventures will keep you busy for days on end! From winding valley bottom hikes to alpine traverses this list should keep you going for a while, especially with a refreshing nightly reset.
KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN RESORT HIKES
Taking the gondola up is a great way to gain quick alpine access and will make for a rewarding hike in any direction. Not to mention the option to end with a decadent bite at the tallest restaurant in Canada, Eagles Eye Restaurant. Here are few hikes available from the top of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Terminator RIDGE + PEAK
Head towards the marked CPR Ridge trail, which we also recommend doing as a separate hike, more info below. Follow the signs south for Terminator. You’ll cross under the gondola and pop out on the wide ridge walk. The summer reveals the shear ruggedness of the Purcell Mountains, hard to believe most ski this with ease in winter! Keep walking until you see a sign to the east for Terminator Peak. Prepare for ropes, boulders and careful footing as you push up to this iconic Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Peak. Take in the elevated views of the resort, base, town of Golden and surrounding valley, it’s a breath taker!
Alternatively you could experience Terminator Peak by signing up for the Via Ferrata course, definitely the more adrenaline-pumping route!
Recommended to add on after completing Terminator Peak for the full experience but can be accessed with out first visiting the peak. From the gondola head towards CPR ridge and cut right onto the labeled Terminator Ridge trail, continue on the ridgeline past the Terminator Peak trail. As you pass behind the bulk of Terminator peak you’ll be exposed to terrific views off the back of Kicking Horse Mountain, take it all in before you head up, up and away. Stay left on the winding trail complete with rock staircases to the top of T2 Peak. Arriving at the tranquil alpine meadow summit you’ll be greeted by the seemingly endless views of the Columbia Wetlands and beneath your feet the town of Golden BC.
CPR RIDGE / BOWL OVER / IT’S A TEN
Centrally located this astonishing ridgeline lets you see it all. From the top of the gondola wander down CPR Ridge as far as comfortable, but we recommend a loop instead of a there and back for a change of scenery.
Bowl Over CPR Loop: At the end of CPR Ridge cross under the gondola at tower 15 and begin the hike up Bowl Over. You’ll get glimpses of a seasonal tarn and surely enjoy the elevation gain through the wild flowers and scattered trees. The final steep will have you in perfect shape for a beer on the patio of Eagles Eye.
It’s A Ten CPR Loop: A the end of CPR Ridge head towards Crystal Bowl on It’s A Ten. Be cautious of bikers as they also share this route and have the right of way. Enjoy the smooth wide trail and admire the meadows below and peaks above from the wild open basin trail.
Note that these can be linked in any direction, as all trails are two-way. You can also do It’s a Ten to Bowl Over and skip CPR Ridge, but trust us, you don’t want to miss it, it’s stunning.
DOGTOOTH RIDGE + TRAVERSE
From the top of the gondola head towards Crystal Bowl on It’s A Ten road. After a short 200m you’ll veer left at the Y intersection. Here you’ll gain a familiar winter peak opening views to the west side of the resort and beyond. A view only accessed from this hike, it’s unique and often one of the quieter hikes.
For those craving a multi day or one really, really, really big day, you can extend your hike from here and cover the entire Dog Tooth Range. You’ll need a car waiting for you at the opposite end, maps, backcountry communication and your own beta to conquer this not so well worn route. No doubt here that your preparation will be rewarded with pure mountain bliss as you walk in the wild side of ridges and peaks before descending back into the valley.
HIKES NEAR KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN RESORT
So you’ve checked all the resort hikes and are craving more? These recommendations will have you covered.
A relatively easy hike with unbelievable views! High clearance vehicles are advised to reach the trailhead off of the Dogtooth Forest Service Road. From the end of the road it is 3.3km and 290 meters of elevation again through a mature forest and boulder field before you’ll find the pristine Gorman Lake! An outhouse, picnic tables and a canoe await your arrival and provide a perfect place for lunch and an afternoon of peak scrambling. Extend your hike my walking the circumference of the Lake or by hiking up and over to Holt Lakes. Please be respectful of the canoe so it remains a treat for all to enjoy for years to come.
DAWN MOUNTAIN SKI TRAILS
Over 25km of trails wind the base of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offering endless loops, connections and valley strolls. Choose the length of your wander by studying the map outside the closed lodge. The bears love these berry filled trails too, so be sure to pack the bear spray, bring some pals and make some noise.
Connect all 4 Cedar Lakes by following a series of trails. Maps are available at the visitor center in Golden. The daring will enjoy the rope swing and all will welcome a dip in the lakes on a hot day. A sign on the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort access road will show you the entrance to the Cedar Lakes trails. 500 meters form the junction is a parking lot. Please note these trails are multi purpose and bikers use them frequently.
There’s no shame in down days. When your body begs for shoes other than hikers explore the list of possibilities!
- Frisbee Golf is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors with out spending all day on your feet.
- Meet Boo the Grizzly Bear.
- Adrenaline junkies will love taking a whirl on the bike trails.
- Swim at Cedar Lake.
- Check out the Tourism Golden event calendar for live music or other town happenings.
Words & Photos by Abby Cooper
There’s no convincing needed when it comes to visiting Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. It sells itself with its diverse terrain selection, impressive annual snowfall and stunning location – the only question is when to experience it all. In reality there’s no bad time to visit Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, its alpine peaks and deep snowpack will surely impress all season long. But here’s why January midweek is prime time.
LOTS OF SNOW
According to WeatherSpark, the most snow for the Kicking Horse region happens the first three weeks of January – hello reliable powder days! After the previous two months of snow you can count on a solid base meaning if not all, the majority of the resort will be wide open for shredding. With the snow stacking quickly this time of year you can count on getting in on some fresh stuff and watching the mountain transform into an even snowy-er wonderland before your eyes – well what you can see between face shots that is!
Past the winter solstice, January offers more daylight than the months preceding it, but with out the heat associated with sunlight in the spring. What does this mean for you? Long full days of daylight filled with chilled quality champagne powder preserved day after day.
Let’s talk about this whole midweek thing. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is known for delivering access to sensational snow and terrain with out the lines, imagine having no lines. Well if you visit in January you won’t have to image. Typically January is a quieter time of year for travel, which means more of the mountain for yourself, especially mid week when all of the weekend warriors will be working.
Just in case the whole daylight, snow stats and private resort concept wasn’t enough to convince you that Kicking Horse Mountain Resort midweek in January is the time to go, the deals certainly will. Lodging packages range from 20-50% off midweek this time of year. And we all know that the best feeling after a full day on the slopes is knowing that you can ski to your on mountain accommodations and soak in the hot tub with out a worry in the world.
All this talk about January has us feeling antsy to get through the holidays and into the snowiest month of the year! Speaking of holidays, a little trip to Kicking Horse in January sounds like an excellent gift for you and your favourite ski or snowboard partner, wink wink.
Words + Photos by Abby Cooper
Spring, it’s the time of year when the flowers bloom and everything turns green, unless you’re in the Canadian Rockies. If you find yourself in the Rockies come spring, you’ll quickly notice that the winter blanket of white snow is far from disappearing. In fact, spring in the Rockies offers some of the best skiing conditions. Not to mention the added bonus of starting après before sun down, not that you have to stop when the sun disappears, no judgments here!
Ever heard the expression “suns out guns out’ or “skies out, thighs out”? We are pretty sure they were first said by a hardy Canadian spring skier wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts while laying down a killer line in the Rockies. Warmer temps bring out some of the best and most amusing spring skiing fashion trends, again, no judgments. The warmth of the sunshine isn’t just great for tan lines, but also works its magic for ultimate snow conditions. One thing that’s reliable in the Rockies is epic corn snow. Corn snow, or “hot pow” if you will, is a descriptive term for the glorious snow that coats our backyard all spring long, it’s fast, warm, and punch-able for ultimate control.
Spring is the ideal time to celebrate in the mountains. Everything from live music, pond skims, themed races and festivals make their way onto the calendar come spring. Fernie Alpine Resort welcomes April with live outdoor music and an unforgettable Festival that goes by the name of Fernival. A film festival kicks of Fernival followed by the famous Raging Elk Powder, Pedal, Paddle Relay, what better way to fully embrace spring that in a multisport multi-season relay. Fernie wraps up their season with the Coca Cola Slope Soaker and live music. If spring skiing is half about skiing and half about socializing, Fernival is exactly where you want to be. Strictly skiing more your style? Kimberley Alpine Resort has some of the longest days available for lap crushing by offering night skiing. Hop on the first lift at 9am and ski right until 4pm. A mandatory break of operations will remind you to eat, relax and enjoy some live music before getting back on the slopes at 5:30pm when night skiing kicks off. Nakiska is the place to see it all, and ski it too, Calgary’s closest mountain shouldn’t be missed! Nakiska is home to fun event weekends in April referred to as Spring Fiesta’s with family friendly activities and of course, the tube park will be open! The biggest crowd drawing event at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is non other than the famous Wrangle the Chute Freeride World Tour 4 Star qualifier. Watch some of the most talented athletes tastefully choose lines to tackle with style in front of the stoke filled crowd. The after party is quickly becoming equally as famous, another reason to put Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on your spring hit list.
Combining long, warm, and snow filled days with awesome events sounds like the perfect reason to get to the Rockies this spring if you ask me. If you haven’t experienced spring the Rockies you don’t know what you’re missing and hopefully I’ve given you enough reasons to change that!
Bucket list checker? Kicking Horse Mountain Resort has more than a few noteworthy check marks that you’ll want to add to your list. Kicking Horse is home to Canada’s highest restaurant, has the most in bounds chutes in North America and hosts the 4th biggest skiable vertical in Canada. Need I say more? This mountain resort stays pretty humble about all its braggable features, but these aren’t the only reasons Kicking Horse Mountain Resort should be in your ski vacation cards.
The vast terrain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is jaw dropping. The choices for skiable terrain are endless. Kicking Horse is family friendly with many groomed leg burners to boot, but if you’re here to get rowdy you won’t be disappointed. Out of the 120+ runs, 45% of them are for advanced skiers and riders and 15% are rated for experts. This means that more than half of the mountain is ready to push your limits and fulfill all your adrenaline junkie dreams. Four distinct ridgelines separate the resort into bowls and various sub ridges and faces. The unique collection of terrain means there is always a powder stash somewhere, although this shouldn’t be much of a worry since the average snowfall is 750cm! Whether it’s technical spines, gladed trees, sneaky chutes, big bowls or groomers you’re after you can guarantee you’ll find it here. With terrain choices bursting at the seems it seems silly to leave the resort, but if you’re craving a backcountry tour grab your avalanche gear and an equipped friend and check out some of the equally impressive slackcountry.
Vistas in all directions encompass you as you step off the Golden Eagle Express Gondola. It will make you feel although you’ve stepped onto another planet, a planet filled with peaks galore. Looking down the valley you’ll see the town of Golden nestled in the Rockies Trench as you peer across from the Purcell Mountain tops. Do a 360 spin and try to find a boring view, we dare you. To take the view to the next level, yes it’s possible, head up the Stairway to Heaven Chair and climb the black Stairway to Heaven Whitewall staircase (only if it’s open) for the view! Even if you head back down the stairs, it’s worth the small work out to see some incredible peaks. Sounds a bit too good to be true? Kicking Horse is the ultimate skier playground, and it’s very real.
Best way to enjoy that view? Dinning at 7,705 feet (2,350 meters) sounds pretty ideal. Eagle Eye Restaurant is the highest restaurant in Canada, most definitely making it a checklist item! From the delicious list of entrées to the custom cocktails, this place is a haven for hungry skiers and sightseers a like. Don’t leave with out trying the truffle fries and a tasty specialty coffee or one of the signature Great Canadian Caesars.
Needless to say, if Kicking Horse Mountain Resort isn’t on your current “must ski” list, it probably should be. The massive amounts of inspiring terrain will keep your ski cravings curbed, although the more you ski, the more see that can be skied! This place might be a little addicting, but in the best way possible. Tired legs are happy legs and with 1,260 meters (4,133 feet) to conquer lap after lap we can guarantee you some pretty tired legs.
Photos by Abbydell Photography, Jeff Bartlett & Emile Lavoie