If you’re a skier or boarder from Alberta or British Columbia there’s a high probability that you’ve been to Kicking Horse Resort, one of Canada’s world-class downhill skiing destinations. While it’s renowned for its spectacular alpine setting, long runs and abundant snow in winter, it’s equally beautiful in summer. From the top of the Golden Eagle Express Gondola enjoy sweeping Rocky Mountain views. Then look way down and you’ll see the Columbia River Wetlands snaking through the valley bottom.
If you’re a hiker you’ll love the choice of hiking trails at Kicking Horse from the short and easy CPR Ridge trail to the longer and more difficult hike up T2 Peak. If you want a real adrenaline fix check out the Via Ferrata. You can choose from three routes of varying length and exposure.
Starting from an elevation of 2,347 metres (7,700 feet) at the top of the gondola pick one or more of the following seven hikes to do. You could easily do several of them on a visit. I recommend taking a photo of the hiking map before you begin so you have a sense of where you are. When you’re finished hiking why not enjoy a drink and something to eat at the beautifully situated Eagle’s Eye Restaurant?
The CPR Ridge Hiking Trail
If you’re looking for a short, easy hiking trail that will give you a sense of the beauty of the area, choose this hike. From the top of the Golden Eagle Express Gondola head down the ridge parallel to the gondola. Along the ridgeline you can see both the Blaeberry and Columbia River Valleys and of course the Rocky Mountains. You really only need 20 – 30 minutes to knock it off.
From the top of the gondola look for It’s a Ten road and follow it for about 200 metres. Continue on a marked trail that climbs up the ridge crest. Hike up and over two high points – Blue Heaven Lookout and then Ozone. You’ll see the Stairway to Heaven chairlift just below the summit of Blue Heaven.
From Ozone the route is less defined and rougher. While it’s possible to continue over another couple of high points, you need to pay a lot more attention to route finding. The terrain gets steeper and tougher. Turn back and retrace your steps if you’re out of your comfort zone.
There may be the odd patch of snow you have to cross early in the summer. Enjoy wildflowers and first rate mountain vistas along this trail. Allow one to two or even three hours depending how far along the ridge you go. Retrace your steps to return.
It’s a Ten
For an easy loop hike It’s a Ten is a great choice. Head down the mountain from the top of the gondola on a well-marked trail that takes you through Crystal Bowl. It’s in a sensitive alpine area so be sure to stick to the trail. Underneath the gondola this trail links up with the beautiful Bowl Over Loop trail. Continue back to the top. Allow one to three hours.
The T2 Peak hike is one of the more difficult ones of the seven available. From the top of the gondola it will take you one to two hours to do this out and back hike. The trail drops down briefly and then heads back up to the main ridge from the Super Bowl Saddle. Continue past the Via Ferrata climbing area along the Terminator Ridge hiking trail to reach the T2 summit lookout in a meadow. Enjoy the wildflowers along with spectacular mountain views.
Bowl Over Loop
On the Bowl Over Loop hike you actually do two trails – the CPR Ridge trail and Bowl Over.
To begin the hike head out on the CPR Ridge trail, losing elevation until you reach Tower 15 on the Gondola. Then the hard work begins. Head up through alpine meadows and along a moraine left by a retreating glacier, enjoying the expansive beauty of Bowl Over between breaths. There’s one final steep push to get to the Kicking Horse summit and then you’re done.
Terminator Ridge and Terminator Peak
The easy Terminator Ridge hiking trail takes off from the top of the gondola. It heads to the Super Bowl saddle before gaining the ridge. Revel in the fantastic views you get of the Purcell Mountains and even the town of Golden thousands of feet below.
If you want to include Terminator Peak look for a sign approximately halfway along Terminator Ridge. Head up for your summit experience, keeping an eye out for climbers finishing the Via Ferrata.
The Via Ferrata Experience
If you’re after real adventure with regular jolts of adrenaline sign up to do one of the Via Ferrata routes. You have a choice of three lengths – and three levels of exposure. I’ve not done one at Kicking Horse but I have done a couple of Via Ferrata’s and I guarantee it will get your attention. While you may be scared at times, that’s all part of the fun and the sense of accomplishment. To book your Via Ferrata experience visit the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort website.
Visit the Kicking Horse website for operating hours and to book your online tickets for the gondola. Hiking kicks in once the snow has melted.
Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.
Thank you to the RCR (Resorts of the Canadian Rockies) for making this post possible.