Hidden Heights – Exploring the Best Kept Mountain Secret

IMPACT was ON LOCATION in Golden, B.C. immersing in the sights and adventures, enjoying exhilarating trail runs, soaking in the solitude and mountain scenery, and engaging with locals who came to play and decided to stay.

Golden, B.C. might initially seem like a perfect spot for a quick leg stretch on the Trans-Canada Highway during a long drive. However, this town, located just under three hours from Calgary and nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, is a hidden gem that beckons to nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, diverse outdoor activities, and welcoming community, Golden offers a unique blend of tranquility and excitement that captivates all who visit.

Often referred to as the “Heart of the Parks” due to its location, Golden sits in the middle of six National Parks: Yoho, Glacier, Kootenay, Banff, Jasper and Mount Revelstoke, making it the perfect basecamp for adventurers looking to explore the Canadian Rockies and the Purcell Mountains. Aside from the nearby national parks, both the CBT Mainline and the Mountain Shadows mountain biking trail system are accessible from town and hiking trails such as Canyon Creek and Table Mountain are just a short drive away. You gotta come here.

Crossing the Heights: A Day at Golden Skybridge

Golden Skybridge
Golden Skybridge

Golden Sky Zipline

Our first stop took us to a ridge at the northern edge of Golden, B.C., where lies adventure and natural beauty—the Golden Skybridge. When we stepped through the entrance, we were welcomed into a wilderness wonderland, alive with the sounds of nature and the not-so-distant hum of excitement. General manager Tristan MacLaggan says, “Golden Skybridge was a unique opportunity for the Pursuit Collection (parent company) to bring an iconic, unforgettable and inspiring experience to the majestic town of Golden.”

The first thing that catches your eye is The Village Grill, where the tantalizing aroma of freshly grilled food mingles with the crisp mountain air. Families and friends gather at the ample picnic tables, their laughter harmonizing with the live music that fills the atmosphere from the nearby stage.

Just beyond the tables, the real magic begins. An imaginative playground, artfully woven into the surrounding forest, beckons children into a world of fantasy and fun. But the enchantment doesn’t end here. A left turn leads you to the axe-throwing area, where welcoming staff members teach you the art of hitting the bullseye. Further along, you find the slackline park, a test of balance and nerve, and the Giant Canyon Swing, a heart-pounding ride that lets you soar solo or with a partner high above the canyon.

The highlight of this adventure land, however, lies in the bridge itself. Canada’s highest suspension bridge, towering 130 meters above the Columbia Valley, stretches 150 meters across, offering a breathtaking crossing over Edelweiss Creek and its cascading 61-meter waterfall. As you step onto the bridge, each footfall sends a ripple of exhilaration through your body, amplified by the stunning vistas that unfold with every step.

On the other side, the adventure continues. The Railrider Mountain Coaster awaits, a thrilling descent of 73 meters along the canyon’s edge, where you control the speed and the rush of adrenaline. The Canyon Edge Challenge Course, a ropes course high above the forest floor, dares you to tackle its three routes, each more challenging than the last.

As your day of adventure winds down, you have two choices to return to the main area. You can brave the lower Skybridge, which, at 80 meters high and 140 meters long, offers a slightly more wobbly but equally scenic route. Or, for a final thrill, strap into the Zipline and fly across the 304-meter span at a heart-racing 70 kilometers per hour.

Golden Skybridge isn’t just an attraction—it’s an experience, a symphony of nature and adventure that leaves you breathless and longing for more. For MacLaggan, born and raised in Nelson B.C., and having worked many years in corporate tourism and hospitality internationally and most recently in Banff, the draw to Golden was “the opportunity to open a world-class attraction back in my home region of the Kootenays. It is a dream to work and play in the most beautiful place on earth.”

Whether you’re seeking the thrill of the Giant Canyon Swing or the tranquility of a picnic in the pines, this magical place promises memories that will soar as high as the bridge itself.

Finding Heart and Home with the Dirtbag Corporation

Dirtbag Corporation Climbing Centre
Dirtbag Corporation Climbing Centre

In a modest building on 9th Street, lies Dirtbag Corporation—a climbing, wellness, and social hub created by a young man with big dreams. We had the great pleasure of meeting Daniel Geddes, who at 27, has transformed a local climbing gym into a vibrant community center, proving that passion and perseverance can turn dreams into reality.

Originally from Stony Plain, AB., Geddes moved to Golden with a simple but profound goal to find a meaningful way to stay in the mountains he loved. Despite working multiple jobs around town, he found himself unfulfilled. With an ACMG rock guide certification and a background in youth leadership, he envisioned a place where he could combine his skills and passions.

Three years ago, Geddes took over the Dogtooth Climbing Gym and transformed it into Dirtbag Corporation and it wasn’t just about climbing. He expanded the gym’s offerings to include a wide range of outdoor education experiences. Today, Dirtbag Corporation is a community hub that encompasses holistic living, sustainable farming, and family wellness.

“I’m so much more than a climber,” Geddes says, reflecting on his broader mission. “You don’t have to self-identify as a climber to come here.” This philosophy is evident in the variety of programs he offers. From winter programs and summer camps to parent-tot courses and private guiding, there is something for everyone. He’s even built two greenhouses behind the gym, teaching kids how to garden and fostering a connection to the earth.

Geddes’ commitment to the community extends beyond Dirtbag Corporation’s walls. He sits on six different boards in town, advocating for youth programming and community development. His leadership program for teens helps them earn guiding certifications and develop essential life skills, preparing them for the future.

Walking through Dirtbag HQ, you can feel the difference from a typical climbing gym. There’s a spray wall for climbers of all levels, an upstairs cave for advanced training, and seedlings growing in the greenhouses—evidence of his dedication to holistic wellness. The facility offers 24-hour access for qualified members, fostering a sense of trust and community.

Plans for Dirtbag Corporation are ambitious. Geddes envisions camps, retreats, and a kitchen to further integrate health and sustainability into the community. Emphasizing the transformative power of the sport, he understands that Dirtbag Corporation is about more than just climbing—it’s about building connections, nurturing growth, and creating a supportive community.

Geddes is redefining what it means to be a climber and a community leader, proving that with heart and determination, you can create a place where both dreams and people can grow. We left uplifted and inspired by this young man’s heart and mission.

Brewing Dreams at Ethos Café

Joel Falardeau and Daphnee St-Pirre Chicoine, Ethos Café
Joel Falardeau and Daphnee St-Pirre Chicoine, Ethos Café

Ethos Café stands as a symbol of community, passion, and perseverance. Located on 13th Street, this charming coffee shop is the creation of Joel Falardeau and Daphnee St-Pierre Chicoine, a couple who brought their dreams from Quebec to the picturesque mountains of B.C.

Falardeau passionately shared their journey to Golden with us that began with a daring leap. Stepping off an eastbound bus from Vancouver in the dead of night with just $250 in his pocket and no place to stay, he was fortunate to find refuge and a starting point for his new life at the DreamCatcher Hostel on Main Street at 2 a.m. From there, he spent several years working as a barista and coffee shop manager at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and Double Black, a job that allowed him to indulge in his passions for snowboarding and mountain biking.

St-Pierre Chicoine, also committed to building a life in the mountains, travelled back and forth from Golden to Quebec to earn her accounting degree before finally settling in Golden. Almost three years ago, their ambitions paid off when a local developer offered them the opportunity to open their own coffee shop and they took the leap. In December 2023, Ethos Café was born, marking the beginning of a new chapter for the young couple.

Ethos Café quickly became a beloved spot for locals and visitors alike. Known for its killer premium coffees and teas, the café also offers exceptional breakfast and lunch plates, with a menu that changes every six months to take advantage of locally sourced ingredients. Under the culinary guidance of their head chef, Brie, a local talent, Ethos Café has become known for its standout offerings like the Breaky Roll and a unique sourdough bread, which Falardeau has perfected over many years, producing 40 to 60 sold-out loaves a day. We couldn’t leave town the next morning without a fresh loaf (which we devoured before getting back to Calgary).

Falardeau was drawn to Golden’s sleepy town vibe, its strong natural energy, and the close-knit community. During Ethos Café’s soft opening, a line stretched out the door for ten straight hours, a testament to the local support and the strong relationships the pair built over the years. Their reputation for premium, quality products accessible to everyone has made Ethos Café a favorite stop, particularly for mountain bikers sand skiers seeking a refreshing break.

Balancing a new business with raising a two-year-old child, their love for Golden is evident in every aspect of their café. “Golden offers a landscape that is equally an inspiration and an escape from our work. It is the embodiment of the Western dream: freedom, opportunity and self-determination”, says Falardeau. Ethos Café isn’t just a coffee shop; it’s a gathering place, a testament to their dreams, and a beacon of warmth and hospitality in the heart of Golden.

Falardeau’s and St-Pierre Chicoine’s journey from Quebec to Golden, from baristas and students to café owners, is a testament to the power of community and perseverance. Ethos Café is more than a business; it’s a part of the Golden community, a place where dreams are brewed daily, and where everyone feels welcome. And they arguably serve the best coffee in town.

Baking a Legacy at the Golden Bakery & Deli

Standing beside the picturesque Kicking Horse River is a testament to enduring dreams and family heritage—the Golden Bakery & Deli. Established in 1970 by Joe and Evelyn Dusevic, this beloved bakery has been a cornerstone of the community for over half a century. Today, their granddaughter Faith, her husband Spencer Lainchbury, alongside Faith’s parents, Darren & Nola Dusevic, continue to carry the torch, blending tradition with modernity.

Faith Dusevic grew up in the bakery, learning the secrets of baking from her grandparents and parents. Lainchbury, a constable with the RCMP, arrived in Golden in 2009. Drawn by the majestic mountains and small-town allure, he met Faith, and their shared love for Golden and each other inspired him to leave his position and join the family business.

Each morning at 4 a.m., the bakery comes alive with the smell of fresh dough and the hum of activity. Faith and her dad are at the heart of it all, ensuring every pastry, bread, and treat is crafted to perfection. Locals will tell you that the apple fritter is a must-try, while the apple turnovers and cinnamon twists are also crowd favorites. We wholeheartedly agree. Every bite reflects the love and tradition that have been baked into the delectables for decades.

From Bakery to Boutique Hotel

Rooms at Riveredge
Rooms at Riveredge

The family’s entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop at the bakery. Their latest venture, the Rooms at Riveredge, is a boutique hotel situated in the same block. This high-end, cozy retreat offers five beautifully designed rooms, each with breathtaking mountain views and direct access to a rejuvenated riverside pathway. The self-check-in rooms provide a perfect blend of modern convenience and tranquil escape, making it an ideal base for exploring the Columbia Valley’s natural wonders.

Golden is more than a business location for the Lainchburys­­; it’s home. They relish the tight-knit community, the skiing and the hiking. It’s a wonderful place to raise their young family, a sentiment echoed by the growing number of families moving to the area.

The Rooms at Riveredge has quickly become a sought-after destination, so early booking is essential, especially during peak season. This expansion represents the family’s dedication to offering not just a place to stay but an experience that captures the essence of Golden.

For Lainchbury, transitioning from the RCMP to the family business was driven by a desire for meaningful work and a deep connection to the community. “Golden is our home,” he says, reflecting on their journey. “We’re honored to be part of its story and to contribute to its future.”

The Golden Bakery & Deli and the Rooms at Riveredge are more than businesses—they are extensions of a family legacy and a testament to the spirit of Golden. Spencer and Faith Lainchbury are not just preserving history; they are creating a vibrant future, one delicious apple fritter and one serene hotel stay at a time.

Quad-Tastic Adventures

Canadian Off-Road Adventures (provided by Emily Meyer)
Canadian Off-Road Adventures (provided by Emily Meyer)

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, climb aboard a quad and immerse yourself in an exhilarating adventure. Even if you’ve never been on an ATV, by the end of the day, you’ll be channeling your inner speed demon, riding full throttle through rivers and rocky terrain. We enjoyed a thrilling backcountry adventure, navigating rugged trails with each turn revealing breathtaking, mountain vistas.

You will be captivated by and greeted by an array of wildflowers, crystal-clear rivers and streams that weave through the terrain, and you may even catch a glimpse of the local wildlife.

Canadian Off-Road Adventures company offers full- and half-day ATV tours.

Chance Discoveries

An unexpected delay to our departure found us at Eat Pure Mountain Market grabbing healthy snacks for our drive home. Little did we know, this delay would lead us to a remarkable encounter.

Inside the quaint local shop, we met Jennifer Elliot Fenn, a vibrant soul who shared tales of her life on Raspberry Rose Acreage, and Megan Twaits, from Refuge Farm.

They enriched us with stories of the women who had chosen to uproot their lives and find solace and purpose in the serene beauty of Golden. Their passion for farming, foraging and fostering community was palpable.

Time flew by as we listened to tales of resilience, growth, and the deep connections forged among these and other women. We were grateful for the unexpected delay that had led us to such an inspirational and enlightening encounter. Take the time to talk to the locals as they hold the key to a wealth of discoveries that will draw you back for more. Who knows, next time, it might be you who decides to stay.

Exceptional Places and People We Met

Basecamp Lodge

Dirtbag Corporation

Eat Pure Mountain Market

Ethos Café

Golden Bakery & Deli

Golden Skybridge

Rooms at Riveredge

Things to Do & See

Canadian Off-Road Adventures

Cedar Lake

Columbia River and Wetlands

Golden Museum

Hiking & Heli Hiking

Kickinghorse Pedestrian Bridge

Mountain Biking

Mount 7 Lookout

Thompson Falls

Trail Running

Whitewater Rafting on the Kicking Horse

World’s Largest Paddle

Where to Eat

Bluebird Café


Ethos Café

Golden Bakery & Deli

Indian Kitchen

Reposados Tacos y Tequilla

The Golden Taps Pub

The Island Restaurant

Wandering Fern Café

Whitetoosh Bistro

Whitetooth Brewing company

Wolf’s Den