The wheel size debate probably thrives in the outdoor mecca called Golden, BC, as the major trail networks – Mountain Shadows, CBTs and Moonrakers – offer everything from wide-open machine-groomed flow trails to ultra technical rock’n’root sections. There are jump lines, wooden features and white-knuckle descents mixed in with a healthy dose of climbing.
I spent two days exploring the trails last fall, riding with locals Sean Allen, and Andy Brown. Between the three of us, we ran the full gamut: 26”, 27.5” and 29” wheels and we all thrived in different sections of trail. But since I know it’s impossible to convince you all that 29” are superior, I thought I’d give you five good reasons to grab whatever bike you own and head to Golden in 2016.
Just make sure to download the Golden Cycling Club’s Trail Map app before you go, so you won’t get lost on an all-day ride.
Five Obvious Reasons to Mountain Bike in Golden, BC, This Summer
1. Downhill for Days
I know I’ll be returning to Golden, BC, this summer to ride the T4 Alpine Trail. It begins with a hike-a-bike from the top of the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort gondola. Once at the top, it’s a long descent. T4 measures 9 KM with a 1000 m elevation drop, but that’s just the beginning as the trail links into LSD and the Moonraker Network. By the time mountain bikers reach town, it’s just less than 25 KM and 2000 m descending!
If you need more convincing, check out this video from pink bike:
“Pyschosis, hosted by the Golden Cycling Club (GCC) for its 10-year existence and sponsored by Red Bull for the last four, was the longest, most-demented single-track downhill mountain bike race in the world that attracted some of the most talented racers on the planet. Compared to the standard World Cup race time of 2-5 minutes, Psychosis’ 12-20 minute, 1200 metre pulverizing descent into madness was extraordinary.
The race may be gone, but the course and its sister trails still maintain their grip on the sides of Mt.7 and on the minds of shuttlers.”
2. Mountain Shadow vs Moonrakers/CBT
If you favour earn-your-descents riding like I do, Golden has plenty of riding that begins right in downtown. The three major trail networks are Mountain Shadows, Moonrakers and CBT.
The Mountain Shadows are far more technical, with rocky cross-country trails that will leave little room for relaxing. The CBT and Moonraker trails are both home to some truly high-speed descents and machined trails; however, each lap begins with a lengthy climb. I almost consider this a single trail group, to, as the CBT network joins the Moonrakers near Cedar Lake.
After your ride this summer, make sure to let me know what your favourite Golden MTB trail!
3. KHMR XC and DH
In the winter, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is my favourite ski resort simply because the gondola makes it possible to ski massive vertical in a single day. It’s no different in the summer, as the Kicking Horse Mountain bike park is home to 3700’ of downhill magic (yes, that makes it the longest top-to-bottom bike park in the country).
Another really cool project has introduced a series of not-quite-XC trails in the alpine linked by a single up trail that makes it possible to put in a long day in the saddle without ever leaving the alpine.
4. Machined Trails
In Golden, I absolutely love riding the newer trails for a single reason: they’re machine built.Since I live in Jasper National Park, all of our trails are hand built, which means few jumps and fewer berms. Naturally, this means I love opportunities to open up the throttle and get into a solid flow. Trails like Mighty Quinn and Hymenoptera are a rare challenge that introduce a whole new thrill level to my style of ride, even if some of the features terrify me.
5. Golden 24
A new signature event, the Golden 24 (pronounced Golden two-four) debuts on June 18-19 this summer. Organized by TransRockies events, which have 20+ years experience with major races like the SingleTrack 6, the Golden two-four promises to make quite the splash with endurance racers and relay teams looking for an exciting way to challenge them early in the season.
With approximately 500 m climbing mixed into a short 14km loop, racers will be battling the challenging course as much as each other. If you aren’t keen on racing the full 24 hours, relay teams and/or the 8-hour race are great ways to get involved with the new event!
Bonus reason to Visit Golden, BC
6. Get off the bike and explore
I’ve always considered Golden to be a ski and bike town; however, after 5 visits in the past year, I’ve discovered it’s much more than that. It’s less than a three-hour drive to five national parks, so there is an endless supply of sightseeing and hiking trails nearby.
After a big scare this spring that threatened to shut down the Kicking Horse Canyon to white water rafting, the industry recently reached an agreement with the Canadian Pacific Railway to keep the Kicking Horse rapids open for the summer.
For wildlife, there are two unique experiences that allow visitors to get up close and personal with some incredible animals. The town’s most famous resident is Boo the Grizzly. He lives at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort’s Grizzly bear interpretive centre and there a couple different programs to visit him. The second option is a visit to the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, near the border of Yoho Natioanl park, where it’s possible to get a hands on experience with incredible wolves for an unforgettable experience.
See you in Golden!