Golden, B.C. is surrounded by six National Parks which makes it a great place for many hiking adventures. In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, we decided to name some of our favourite trails. They're all in the National Parks and we hope they help with your planning as you come to take in our breathtaking landscapes. This blog focuses on the 5 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park.
It's important to note this is Glacier National Park is in British Columbia, Canada - not the U.S.A.
Glacier National Park is the first park heading west out of Golden. It's home to famous Roger's Pass and is a shining example of the vastness of this area. With a handful of hikes easily accessible from Highway 1, there's no reason to miss the trails here.
Many of the hikes start at the same location - the Illecillewaet Campground. This is a good option for camping if you want to do multiple hikes.
Day trips from Golden are also possible (it's what we always do). This is what we recommend if you want a few more amenities throughout your stay. For lodging, restaurants, groceries, stores and gas stations, Golden, B.C. is a great option.
There is nothing between Golden and Glacier National Park, so be sure to pack everything you need. Lunch, snacks, water, hiking gear and extra layers are all a must.
We've done almost all of the hikes in Glacier National Park. It's hard to pick favourites, but here are our recommendations to at least get you started.
The 5 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park, B.C.
1. Hermit Trail
One of our absolute favourite hikes of all time! Get ready for a workout on this one, though. Although it is a short 3 km trail up, it gains 870 meters in that time, making it a steep climb.
BUT don’t be put off - the views from the top of this trail make it all worth it (the photo at the top of this blog was taken from Hermit).
The first half of this trail is a lovely trek in a rich, old growth forest. From here, you'll quickly come to an open view of the surrounding mountains. As you continue to the top, the path levels off to a stone slab and ends in a large rocky bowl with views of the ice fields.
There are often alpine flowers and streams flowing to connect a number of little pools.
For the more adventurous (or if you want to relax at the top), four backcountry camping spots are designated at the top. The tent pads are in good condition and there's an outdoor toilet hidden out of the way.
You can relax and soak in the views, before making your way back down.
We highly recommend this hike for a day - its a beauty! It's easily accessible from Highway 1. You'll see a sign indicating the trail 1.5km east of the Roger’s Pass Discovery Centre.
While this is not the easiest hike in the area, it is one we recommend to anyone looking for a challenge. With a stunning turquoise lake and magnificent views of the region, this hike does reward you for all the hard work.
This 11 km round-trip hike is one that takes you up more than 1140 meters, making it a strenuous route. The beginning of the trail is somewhat forgiving, with a gradual incline through the forest.
The forests and waterfalls you pass here are second only to the view that unfolds as you reach the end of the tree line.
At the 2.4 km marker you come to the trail junction for Mount Sir Donald and Perley Rock. From here on the views of the valley are spectacular.
At this point the hike continues on more difficult terrain through a bunch of switchbacks. The series of switchbacks will definitely get your heart racing, but you will be astonished at your surroundings. It's entirely worth it!
Insider Tip: Poles help on this one - especially for the way down.
This trailhead is located at the Illecillewaet Campground. It's located 3 km west of the summit of Rogers Pass, just off Highway 1.
3. Abbot Ridge
This is another hike located at the Illecillewaet Campground trailhead (we told you it might be a good idea to camp here!).
We love this hike and we tend to come back to it again and again.
Gaining 1029 meters of elevation in 6.8 km, Abbot Ridge takes you through a wide variety of terrain. It results in sweeping views of many iconic features in Glacier National Park - including over the backside which can't be seen from other hikes.
Starting in a subalpine forest, this trail quickly turns into a steep climb. You start in rocky terrain before the tree line breaks into a meadow. From here you'll notice the clearly defined trail that showcases the switchbacks leading to the ridge.
Although it looks full on, this hike isn't as bad as it seems. We find the breathtaking views are a good distraction from the effort. The end of the trail is marked with a sign, and will give you a wide variety of scenery to look at - from Mount Sir Donald to Marion Lake to the Vaux Glacier (only to name a few!).
4. asulkan valley
This hike is beautiful! If you love water - streams, creeks, rivers and waterfalls, this is the hike we'd recommend.
Unlike the other hikes in Glacier National Park, the start of the Asulkan Valley trail is nice and gentle. The first 4 km of the hike wind through the forest and follow a creek making it a very pleasant walk.
If you'd like to walk in the Park but don't have it in you to do a steep climb, you could do the first 4 km of this hike and then turn around. It will still take you past spectacular scenery. Rich, healthy forests, huge cascading waterfalls and towering mountain peaks. It is an out and back so you could stop when you feel you've had enough.
We recommend this to people all the time as a beautiful, calmer option.
Because, true to Glacier National Park style this trail does get steep for the last 3 km. You will need to do the climb to reach the top.
The end of this trail takes you along the narrow crest of a glacial moraine. It's a very unique experience and we haven't seen anything like it on the other National Park hikes.
You'll finish at the Asulkan Cabin. If you plan far enough ahead, you can reserve some nights here. Contact the Alpine Club of Canada to make reservations.
5. Mount Sir Donald
** Editor's note - this trail was inaccessible as of summer 2021 so be sure to check with Park's Canada before venturing this way. The trail ends at the junction with the Perley Rock Trail **
Like its partner, Perley Rock, Mount Sir Donald is a strenuous day hike with lovely views of the valley below.
The start to this hike is the same trail as Perley Rock. It begins somewhat gradually until you reach the fork in the trail. This is where you head left for Mount Sir Donald.
Although not as steep as Perley Rock - gaining 915 meters of elevation - this trail holds the same merit when it comes to the views.
From the fork, you'll be climbing a slope filled with boulders, but the big push happens within the last kilometre. As you near the top, the trail quality loosens, so be careful of the gravel.
Once you reach the summit, you will realize why we love this spot - it's one breathtaking view.
One of best parts about this hike? You can see the summit of Mount Sir Donald shortly after crossing Vaux Creek, making it a fun mission to get to the end.
This trailhead is also located at the Illecillewaet Campground. It's 3 km west from the summit of Rogers Pass, right off Highway 1.
So there you have it. Our recommendations for the 5 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park, British Columbia.
It's important to note that these hikes are not necessarily for beginners, and it is best to tackle only one per day. The rewards for your hard work are worth it. We love exploring here, and if you're up for the challenge, we know you will too!
Where to Stay and Other Activities in Golden, BC
If you're looking for a place to stay in Golden, B.C. while you access these hikes, we recommend Whitewater Lodge. It's a beautiful little lodge and bed and breakfast tucked away on the edge of town.
For other activities in Golden, B.C., rafting on the Kicking Horse River is something you won't want to miss. There are gentle scenic float trips, and options for big whitewater. With five trips to choose from on the Kicking Horse, can learn more about your rafting tour choices here. That page highlights the trip options, start times, prices and minimum age requirements.
Live an adventure and enjoy the hiking!
Cheers from the Glacier Crew