First posted August 17, 2017 | Avenue Magazine | Andrew Penner
Make the most of the final weeks of summer with an off-the-beaten-path alpine adventure in Nelson, Golden, Porcupine Hills, Nordegg or Wheeler.
Clean, pine-scented air, crystal-clear rivers, inspiring vistas — what’s not to love about the mountains? How about crowds of tourists who clog up the roads and hold up your hikes? And just try booking a last-minute room or campsite in Banff, Jasper or Lake Louise this month. Good luck! But that’s the bad news. The good news is that if you take the roads less travelled, you’ll have all the space you need (and it will make all the difference).
For a mountain getaway to make the most of the remaining weeks of summer, your best bet is something a little off the radar. These five places are a good start.
Go for Golden
The town of Golden, B.C., is proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The roadside truck stops and fast-food greaseries along the TransCanada Highway definitely don’t do this mountain town justice. Late summer and early fall, when Golden literally lives up to its name, is the ideal time to slide into town (the real town), don your sporty shoes and hit the local trails. Mountain bikers looking for a white-knuckle ride will find it on the Canyon Creek Trail in the Moonraker trail area south of town, an epic rip that dips and dives along the rim of a deep canyon. Base yourself out of the Cedar House Chalets, which are also out that way on a serene, 10-acre spread.
The hiking hard core will want to take on the 16-km ridge-top trek from Kicking Horse Resort to Gorman Lake. The trail starts with a ride up the Kicking Horse gondola (an adult summer sightseeing ticket is $49.95) and sets out from the top. The entire hike is almost exclusively in the high alpine, save for the descent to Gorman Lake at the end. Take note: the 16-km distance is one-way, meaning hikers will need to drop a vehicle at the endpoint before setting out (the backcountry logging road to Gorman Lake isn’t exactly car-friendly, either). For something a little easier and simpler, try Thompson Falls in the Blaeberry area north of town, a secret gem of a trail that leads to a stunning waterfall.
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