Situated between two national parks, the Kicking Horse Canyon is a natural starting point for many recreational activities. In winter, skiing, snowboarding and ice-climbing dominate. Summertime brings out the parasailing and hang-gliding adventurer, along with cyclists, rock climbers, hikers, kayakers, and white water rafting thrill seekers.
Work to improve safety on the Trans-Canada Highway through the Kicking Horse Canyon has resulted in a new role for a section of the old highway alignment, reborn as a recreation trail about 13 kilometres east of Golden, BC.
Recreation trail running between the river and highway from the rest area to lookout point
This cycling and hiking trail is accessible from the new Kicking Horse Rest Area where travelers have an opportunity to enjoy picnicking, perusing the historic interpretative sign and meandering within the scenic valley. The trail follows alongside 3 kilometres of the turbulent Kicking Horse River to a lookout point at the location of the former bridge across the river. Mountains, rivers, trains rumbling along the opposite riverbank and the majestic new Park Bridge are all sights to see — as well as the occasional herd of mountain goats and summertime rafters. And travelers stopping on the long drive to or from Alberta can really get out and stretch their legs!
Picnic tables in the rest area near the trail head
The design of all improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway in the Kicking Horse Canyon is being undertaken with a keen appreciation of the needs of cyclists, and the cycling community is represented on the project's liaison committee.
On the opposite side of the river from the new recreation trail, the CPR Railway tracks
follow the Kicking Horse River under the new Park Bridge
Cyclists will benefit from both the general improvements to reduce grades and reduce exposure to avalanche hazards and the specific improvements implemented specifically with cyclists in mind, including: 2.5 metre-wide paved shoulders, extended height bridge parapets, and bicycle-safe grates on bridge catch-basins.
These enhancements will make a noticeable difference for all cyclists – from participants in the 340-km Golden Triangle tour to those out for a leisurely side-trip along the new 3‑km riverside recreation trail.
Summertime is the season for rafting companies, and the Kicking Horse River has the reputation of being one of the most exciting and untamed in North America. There are several rafting access points for launch, take-out, meal breaks, and emergency pullout within the limits of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project. The Golden rafting community and local liaison committee provided input into the design of the new public rest area, which has safer access from the Trans-Canada Highway and better river access for rafters.
Project team members and other rafters on the Kicking Horse River
A study by the Conference Board of Canada predicts that better access to all area recreation opportunities is expected to translate into $46.1 million for the region, which should be a welcome boost for local recreation and tourism groups. Improvements under the Kicking Horse Canyon Project are ensuring safer access to national parks and all recreation opportunities throughout the region.