“You’re taking your kids to Kicking Horse to bike? That’s an aggressive hill…”
Those words rang in my ears as we headed west to Golden for a family trip to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. The kids, ages 1, 5, and 7 were buzzing with excitement. The parents were buzzing too - but with nerves. Our little boy had ridden lift-access trails only a couple of times, the girls were both too young to bike, and we hadn’t looked into whether or not our golden retriever was welcome. Great planning – I know.
When we pulled up to our free campsite our breath was taken away by the sweeping mountain views, and we started to give in to the kid’s excitement. The spot alone felt well worth the trip. Within minutes, the kids discovered a park, beach volleyball court, frisbee golf and a pump track that got them grinning. The members of staff were all so friendly too, giving directions and tips and even patting our vagabond pup. Things couldn’t have gotten better and we hadn’t yet gotten on a lift.
The five of us hopped on the high-speed quad chair to go see Boo the grizzly bear who’s lived at the sanctuary since his mom was poached as a cub. Between his enormous presence and the guide’s funny and informative lecture, we were enraptured. (The Steve Erwin-type experience was only enhanced with his Australian accent – the guide’s, not Boo’s.) The kids could hardly believe that we came so close to this huge grizzly, and I could hardly believe we were spending all this time together as a family even though only a couple of us were riding at a time. After the tour, our son and I hopped on our bikes to chase each other down the mountain where we all met again to head up the gondola.
The views from the top were staggering, and we drank it in from the Eagle’s Eye restaurant. We enjoyed watching climbers on a via ferrata adventure out the window before the younger two scrambled at the top with their dad before catching the gondola down. Our seven year old and I tore down the mountain, as there are green and blue runs appropriate for him the entire way down. Often, green runs at lift-access locations means cross country-like up and downs that would never be found at the top of the mountain and they can be a bit boring for downhill riders. Not so at Kicking Horse. Green runs meant appropriately steep single track with equal care put into the building and design as black diamonds. Rolling wood features, little jumps and fun sweeping berms were characteristic of the easier runs.. My husband and I took turns biking with our oldest on the hill while the other enjoyed endless activities with the younger two, which often included all of us taking lift and gondola rides together and spending time exploring as a crew between runs. It was really hard trying to narrow down the best parts – so we asked the kids. The “pro list” got lengthy, so I tried asking what they would change.
“Next time, let’s stay for fourteen days instead of four!” That summed it up perfectly.