Things to Do in Golden BC in Winter
I don’t know about you but come winter I need something to look forward to on a regular basis. In the summer, we go away almost every weekend, but somehow in winter we only seem go away every month or so. John and I decided we needed a break and decided to head to Golden BC for a change – and avail ourselves of winter activities both in Golden and in nearby Yoho National Park. Most people I know head for Kicking Horse Mountain Resort but on this trip we were looking for quieter winter activities.
Over three days in winter we knocked off some cross-country skiing, several snowshoe outings along with a couple of winter hikes. We also enjoyed some good eating and a fabulous stay at Home Lodge, just 12 minutes from downtown Golden. Check out all the things to do in Golden BC we discovered over just three days. Everything is listed in chronological order so you can see just how much you can do if that’s what you want. Mind you, a day of reading and napping at the Home Lodge would have been nice too.
Getting to Golden BC
I’m not going to lie. It was a gnarly drive to Golden BC from Calgary on the winter weekend we chose. In fact, we almost cancelled because of the weather. Once we got past Lake Louise the Trans-Canada Highway was down to one lane in each direction and roads were snow-covered and icy. Still, we persevered, breaking up the drive with a stop for a few hours of cross-country skiing in Yoho National Park.
Normally it’s about a three-hour drive to Golden from Calgary. What is different now and for years to come is the construction upgrade to Kicking Horse Canyon, just east of Golden. There are frequent slowdowns and even complete closings so always check the Kicking Horse Canyon website before you go. Its updated daily with all the wait times and closure information.
Location map of things to do in Golden BC in winter
Go cross-country skiing in Yoho National Park
I had read about some cross-country ski trails in Yoho National Park that I was keen to try. The one we did began at the side of the road near the Yoho Natural Bridge. The parking lot doesn’t seem to be plowed in winter but there is room to pull over and park.
We skied about 11 kilometres on a combination of the Kicking Horse and Otterhead Trails. Part of the trail is normally track-set but it had snowed so much that we broke trail the entire way. There was less than 50 metres of elevation gain.
The trailhead is near the washrooms on the north side of the parking lot. Ski a mix of wide roads and narrow trails through the woods, crossing both the Emerald and Amiskwi Rivers. Eventually you reach the Kicking Horse River where there are supposed to be wonderful views of the surrounding peaks, but we couldn’t see much.
We turned around before the light started to fade so we could get to Golden in daylight. We’d like to go back and do more skiing in this area as its in a snow belt and very peaceful.
Overnight at Home Lodge in Golden
We spent two wonderful nights at the Home Lodge in Golden run by Lynn, a Scot (fresh baked shortbread were waiting for us one evening) and Sigi a Swiss. Both are personable and welcoming – and know the region like the proverbial back of your hand. You can count on lots of local intel if you need suggestions on what to do, where to eat…
Even though the B&B is in Golden, it felt like we were in a nature sanctuary. The B&B sits on a large acreage with a view of the mountains – yet its just a 12-minute drive from the main street in downtown Golden. While you can still see a few other homes, mostly what you see when you look outside is either deer, birds or one of their photogenic Scottish Highland cattle.
We had the entire place to ourselves though there are four bedrooms. It was a treat to have a huge common area to sit and enjoy a glass of wine. And one night we brought a delicious Mexican dinner back from Reposados Tacos and ate it at their large dining table. Both nights we availed ourselves of their hot tub.
Breakfasts come with your stay. Not only are they delicious (fresh fruit, yogurt, bacon, pancakes…) but they’re fun and full of great conversation with Lynn and Sigi. And you get a view of deer checking you out as they walk by the kitchen windows.
Drive up Blaeberry Road and go snowshoeing
We wouldn’t have gone snowshoeing near the Blaeberry River if it wasn’t for Lynn’s suggestion. She did say we’d find lots of unmarked trails – and it would be beautiful. She was right.
To find somewhere to snowshoe, we drove down Blaeberry Road to the end of where it had been plowed. There’s a large parking area. From there you can do one of two things. Backtrack 150 metres to the bridge over the Blaeberry River. Cross it and then snowshoe on some forest service roads. That’s what we ended up doing for about 75 minutes. There’s a lot to explore and none of the terrain we were in posed any avalanche risk. As you can see in the photos, it was untracked and beautiful snowshoeing.
The other option is to continue up the unplowed Blaeberry Road to Thompson Falls. I don’t know if its 5.3 km one way – the distance marked on a sign we saw, but I assume that’s how far you’d have to go. I saw a photo on Tourism Golden’s Instagram feed of Thompson Falls – so I knew it was an option, though I know nothing about the trail itself.
Eat lunch in Bacchus Books and Cafe in downtown Golden
Another one of Lynn’s recommendations was to enjoy lunch at Bacchus Books and Cafe in downtown Golden. It was a great suggestion as the food is delicious, portions are large, and I love a good bookstore. Look for secondhand books upstairs while the downstairs has both new and used books.
I also understand that one of the cooks here is non other than Katie Mitzel, the beloved cook up at Skoki Lodge for many years. We thoroughly enjoyed her cooking over one winter weekend years ago, so we knew we’d be in for a treat here as well. Everything we ordered was delicious.
Walk the Rotary Loop beside the Kicking Horse River in Golden
After lunch we hopped onto the Rotary Trail from the back door of the bookstore. After crossing the Kicking Horse River on the aptly named Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge, we hung a right and made our way down to Confluence Park where the Kicking Horse and Columbia Rivers meet.
What was most noticeable was the amount of ice on the Kicking Horse River. There was so much that they had to dredge a channel, removing ice, so water could flow. Note how high the ice is in relation to the pedestrian bridge. I hope this doesn’t spell trouble come spring.
This is an easy out and back walk. To get to Confluence Park you do have to walk on a short stretch of road.
Walk or snowshoe the Moonraker Trails near Golden BC
The Moonraker Trails are accessed off the road to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. From downtown Golden, it’s about a 10-minute drive. There are over 50 kilometres of trails that are heavily used by mountain bikers and hikers in summer but in winter many of the trails can be walked or snowshoed.
We walked quickly to Cedar Lake – post-holing only occasionally and arriving about 45 minutes after leaving the car. All told it’s somewhere between a 4 – 5 kilometre out and back hike. It was pretty with a lot of snow. In summer, the lake is a popular recreation site, offering 22 primitive campsites.
Snowshoe or walk to Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park
We snowshoed to Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park on the drive home. The start of the trail, immediately off the Trans-Canada Highway, is about 30 minutes from Golden so it’s easy to do as a day trip.
It’s a delightful trail to the falls though it’s longer in winter as you must walk or snowshoe to the parking lot that is used in summer. All told it is 8.8 km return with an elevation gain of around 30 metres. Allow 3- 3.5 hours as you will want to spend some time at Wapta Falls, admiring the falls from different angles.
Unless there is a big fresh dump of snow, you should be able to hike to the falls though I would recommend that you throw some microspikes in your pack in case it gets icy.
Eating in Golden BC
We didn’t eat inside any restaurants while in Golden, but we did pick up food from Reposados Tacos on the Main Street. It was REALLY good. They have come up with a creative solution and are offering a dine-outside-in-a-heated-dome experience. You must reserve it.
Other restaurants in Golden that come highly recommended are eleven22, Whitetooth Bistro, and the Ronin Noodle Bar.
More reading on things to do in BC in winter
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