Get Off The Beaten Track In Golden BC

BY JOANNE SWEETING

Surrounded by the Canadian Rockies, Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges, the town of Golden is unpretentious, friendly, and welcoming; a real town with real people, surrounded by natural beauty. Golden is the perfect base to access the hidden gems in some of Canada’s most iconic national parks. Experience alpine lakes, waterfalls, historic sites, and stunning scenery — but without the crowds.

Now that I have made my home in Golden British Columbia, I realise the satisfaction to be had from being in a real mountain town, off the beaten track, where the people have lived for generations.

Staying in Golden gives you the best of all worlds; close enough to Banff and Lake Louise so that you can visit those places whose images are so gloriously recognisable, but also offering lesser-known gems that provide, with a little effort, a high reward of beautiful alpine lakes, waterfalls, and stunning views over the Canadian Rockies.

Here are just a few of my own favourites in Yoho and Glacier National Parks:

BURGESS SHALE
These fossil beds are only accessible on pre-booked guided hikes, but it’s well worth the cost for the stunning vistas over Yoho National Park and Emerald Lake, and access to explore the extensive Cambrian fossil beds.

EMERALD LAKE & BASIN
The first 500m of the trail may be busy, but once the bus tour visitors turn back you can enjoy a quiet, gentle, hike around the lakeshore, or through the basin, surrounded by mountain and glaciers.

WAPTA FALLS
One of my favourite things is the easy hike to the base of this impressive 30 metre waterfall — the largest waterfall on the Kicking Horse River. It’s easy for a mixed group of friends, and always gets a great response.

RAILWAY HISTORY
The history of the unique challenges and solutions of taking a railroad through the Rocky Mountains is fascinating. In 1871, the Kicking Horse Pass was chosen as the route to build a railway link to connect B.C. to the rest of Canada. The steep grade posed a serious challenge, the solution to which was the Spiral Tunnels, completed in 1909. The Rogers Pass Visitor Centre in Glacier National Park features a theatre, and exhibits on the railway history of the area. The Loop Brook trail highlights the stone pillars that once carried the railway track across the valley, which are among the oldest surviving man-made structures in western Canada.

GLACIER CREST TRAIL
Not for the faint of heart, this is an out-and-back hike on a steep trail up to a ridge which provides views of the Illecillewaet glacier to the east and the Asulkan glacier to the west. I highly recommend the full effort for some of the the best alpine views and impressive pictures you can get!

For more information on Golden and the surrounding national and provincial parks visit lovethenationalparks.com.