After our ride in Valemount, B.C., in mid-April 2012, my husband Monte and I made tracks to Golden. I was acquainted with high elevations and sledding in steep terrain from our experience in Valemount, but I was still somewhat unprepared for what lay ahead of us in Golden.
As a writer for SnoRiders, I’ve been told about the area’s champagne powder and variety of terrain choices, but I hadn’t seen it for myself.
Quartz Creek, Gorman, Silent Pass and Chatter Creek are some of the popular snowmobiling areas around Golden. Since Quartz Creek is the Golden Snowmobile Club’s showcase area and it is easy to access, we decided to go there. The parking lot and trailhead to Quartz Creek are located on Highway 1 west of Golden, and passes are available at the trailhead.
The temperature was well above freezing and the parking lot at Quartz Creek was free of snow, so I was surprised when we pulled in and saw that it was full of trucks and trailers.
The snow was a little slushy at the start of the trail, but it got firmer as we gained elevation. The Golden Snowmobile Trail Society grooms the Quartz Creek area regularly and the trail was smooth and well-maintained when we were there.
We passed by what I assume was the snowmobile club’s cabin and waved to a group of sledders who were taking a break. From there we followed a trail that branched off the main route and climbed to the top of a large, open play area. Monte did some exploring while I snapped a few photos and then we dropped back down through the trees onto the main trail and followed it into a valley where some other riders were hill climbing.
With the spring-like conditions, there was virtually no place these guys couldn’t go. I was still amazed, however, how high they climbed, and watching them on the descent was a bit hair-raising. One guy got bucked off his sled and he got up, unscathed, to watch his riderless machine surge down the hill. Fortunately, it missed every tree and reached the bottom in one piece.
What memories are made of
There was only a skiff of fresh snow on top of hard pack, so we didn’t get to make any turns or play in the powder—but I can only imagine how good the riding is in this area when there is two feet of fresh snow. Quartz Creek is big and there are some steep sections. I’m no rookie, but I found the size of the hills a bit intimidating. Visitors to this area don’t have to go beyond their comfort level to have fun, however, because Quartz Creek caters to everyone. There’s a groomed trail to ride on and flat areas to play in, as well as steep hills to climb and trees for boondocking.
We decided to call it a day around 4:30 p.m. and head back down the mountain to load up our machines and begin the long drive home to Cranbrook. That ride concluded our sledding season—and what a great season it was. It started slow but ended strong and we got to see some new terrain in the Kootenay Rockies region of B.C. as well as in the Thompson Okanagan. One thing’s for certain: we will visit Golden again next season.
On our way to Golden, we spent a night at the Powder Springs Inn in Revelstoke. Our generous host, Emma Kirkland, who is the manager of the motel, treated us like celebrities. We enjoyed the hospitality of her staff in addition to a great meal, drinks and live entertainment at the Last Drop Pub, an authentic British pub that is attached to the Powder Springs Inn.
Aaron Bernasconi at Mountain Motorsports on 9th Street North in Golden is the go-to guy for directions and information on current snow conditions. Local sledders usually gather at Bernasconi’s dealership in the mornings to talk shop and network with each other before heading out for the day.
There are plenty of great restaurants, pubs and sports bars in Golden to go to after your ride, but local sledders will most likely be at the Canyon’s Edge Steakhouse and Grill at the Golden Rim hotel on Golden View Road.