Skiing in Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse ski area offers high alpine bowl skiing that is the equal of almost anything in North America. Kicking Horse makes it easy to get spoiled skiing 4,100′ laps all day without seeing more than a few dozen other skiers.

Kicking Horse Ski Area

Kicking Horse Ski Area Overview

The alpine areas and bowls of Kicking Horse ski resort are more suited to expert skiers, who will appreciate the lack of crowds on powder days. The vertical in Kicking Horse is on par with the biggest in North America at 1,260 metres (4,133 feet).

The only drawback of the fast, high capacity gondola is that it has no mid-station. If the snow quality is not as good at the lower elevations, you have no choice but to grin and bear it until you reach the bottom of the mountain. The Stairway to Heaven lift is the only other option and is a great short cut back to top of Redemption Ridge once the more accessible areas have been skied out.

It is important to note that many runs designated as ‘single black’ in Kicking Horse would be either double blacks or unmarked lines at other North American resorts. Be sure to inspect all the lines from below before plunging off into jagged rocks, especially in the couloirs off the ridges. Zones designated as permanently closed are to keep from skiers from triggering avalanches that run onto marked runs.

Beginner skiers have one main option from the top of the gondola – It’s a Ten – a 10 km switchback trail. Otherwise, beginners are confined to a novice area near the village.

Kicking Horse is also renowned for its lift-accessed backcountry. Super Bowl lies on the other side of Terminator Peak, approximately 20 minutes hike from the top of the Golden Eagle Express. In the other direction, ski tourers may hike past Whitewall and Feuz Bowl to the more remote back country area of Rudi’s Bowl.

Beginner Skiing in Kicking Horse

The majority of the beginner terrain at Kicking Horse ski resort is accessed from the Catamount chair, for which you can buy a specially discounted learning lift ticket for this chair only.

Kicking Horse Beginner Skiing 660X260

Beginner skiers on a green trail near the base (photo credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Beginner skiers have limited options at Kicking Horse. The resort has a well-deserved reputation for off piste and big mountain free-skiing. The rugged peaks of the Selkirks are not ideally suited for novice ski trails, so it is unsurprising that Kicking Horse’s novice options are limited.

Most of the beginner skiing is concentrated around the base area, where the Catamount fixed grip quad services a handful of green trails. Although this main beginner terrain pod is somewhat small, the trails are enjoyable and uncrowded.

Kicking Horse’s longest run is also its premier beginner trail – “It’s a Ten.” This 10 km trail starts at the summit terminus of the gondola and falls 4,100′ back down to the resort’s base. “It’s a Ten” is a fantastic beginner trail because it offers long views of the valley around every bend. It’s the type of trail that a beginner feels a sense of accomplishment after completing. One top to bottom run might take as long as an hour for a beginner skier, so be sure to know your skill level before setting out. A great way to preview the lower portion of the trail is to take the Pioneer Double Chair to its top terminus. From there skiers can ski the lower quarter of the run back down to the base.

Intermediate Skiing in Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse’s intermediate skiing is on the more challenging end of the spectrum. Confident blue skiers will enjoy the resort’s high alpine bowls. From the top of the Golden Eagle Express gondola there are options for intermediates wanting to see the views from the summits.

Kicking Horse Intermediate Skiing 660X260

(Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Sluiceway is a great blue run that runs from the easier entrance into Bowl Over right down to the bottom of CPR Ridge. There are plenty of cat track access roads which have signs pointing you in the right direction for the next blue run. If you can handle moguls some of the black runs in the lower mountain are a great training ground.

Cloud 9 runs from Blue Heaven into Crystal Bowl and merges with the road from the top of the gondola. The Northern Lights trail also runs down the middle of Crystal Bowl. These trails can either lap back to the Stairway to Heaven chair or keep descending down to Tail Spin and the other rolling groomers on the lower mountain such as Wiley Coyote. Take care with speed travelling over blind rollers.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Kicking Horse

Expert skiers in Kicking Horse will have no difficulty in finding challenging terrain. Many single black trails in Kicking Horse would be designated double black or unmarked in many other ski resorts in North America and ‘permanently closed’ area signs must be respected.

Kicking Horse Expert Skiing 660X260

(Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Stepping straight off the Eagle Express gondola there is a field of steep glades on The Flying Dutchman, a great way to start powder days that may have poor visibility. This run links up to more steep runs towards the lower mountain such as Terminator, Liberty and Double Header.

For bluebird days you can ski the bowl down Think Twice on the other side of the ridge for an excellent warm up to the steeper terrain. This route links up with Bubbly and Euphoria and then down to the long, rolling descent down Porcupine. This route is a great opportunity to inspect the more complex lines off lower CPR Ridge. Be sure to use caution when choosing a line here, this zone has been used in numerous free skiing competitions.

Once you have had a good few laps on CPR Ridge you’ll be looking for the next zone to get fresh tracks. Take the Stairway to Heaven lift once it is open and ski the steep glades on My Blue Heaven, lap back to the top and explore the dozens of line off Redemption Ridge into Feuz Bowl. From the top of the chair you can hike over towards The White Wall, which offers yet another network of steep and technical lines.

Pay attention to not hike into the permanent closure on the far side of this bowl, locally known as the ‘no-zone’. All runs from Feuz bowl need to lap back to the Golden Eagle Express. The fast, rolling groomers such as Kicking Horse and Race Place ensure the ski down is more than filler between your alpine laps.

Boarding & Freestyle in Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse’s snowboarding offering are geared more towards the big mountain rider. Snowboarders who prefer mainly park skiing will be happier elsewhere, but the resort’s legendary powder, chutes, trees and big mountain bowls create a massive playground with ample opportunity for big air that would put any park to shame…

Kicking Horse Snowboarding 660X260

(Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Kicking Horse has allocated a small zone in the Catamount learning area for a terrain park . While the features are small, there is enough there to keep the park riders entertained while waiting for the higher lifts to open.

A new addition to the ski resort is the Hidden Nugget terrain features. These are constructed features built from trees or other natural obstacles that are made to fit into the flow of the ski run. Each feature is marked with a grading and they are great for jibbers looking for play areas on their way down the mountain.

Off-Piste & Backcountry Skiing in Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse’s high alpine bowls create an in-bounds backcountry skiing experience with many bowls providing excellent powder skiing just a short hike from the lifts. Perhaps more than any resort outside Jackson Hole, Kicking Horse has marked runs that can and should induce terror.

Kicking Horse Backcountry Skiing 660X260

(Photo Credit: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

In keeping with the ski touring popularity of nearby Rogers Pass, Kicking Horse can be just a start point from anything from an hour of off-piste skiing at the resort boundary to a long, multi-day tour off-piste.

Terminator Peak is around 20 minutes hike from the top of the Golden Eagle Express. From the top of this ridge you can access the expert only lines of Glory, Truth, Dare and Consequence. These exposed double black runs are within the boundaries of the resort, but care should be taken due to the high amount of exposure to cliffs and slide paths.

On the other side of Terminator Peak you can drop into Super Bowl, known as a favourite ‘slack country’ area which only requires the initial hike up to Terminator Peak. There is a large zone that is permanently closed on the lower end of this ridge, look for the signs as you traverse and you will know when you must turn into the fall line. The ski out from Terminator Peak eventually traverses back to the resort.

On the other side from the top of the Stairway to Heaven you can hike up to Whitewall which is still in the resort boundary and skis into the enormous Feuz Bowl. You can hike further along the ridge from Whitewall until you drop into Rudi’s Bowl. This area is considered remote despite the possibility to traverse back to the resort further down.

Avalanche safety equipment is essential and a mountain guide recommended for skiing off-piste. You should also check to make sure that snow conditions are suitable.

For more information on guided trips around Golden enquire to Cirrus Alpine Guides.

Mountain Restaurants in Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse’s mountain restaurant – The Eagle’s Eye Restaurant – is the highest in Canada and serves up some tasty gourmet ski chow. The main Daylodge base at Kicking Horse has a cafeteria serving grill style food, sandwiches and snacks. All the amenities make this a convenient location to grab a quick bite before hitting the slopes or snacking between runs.

Kicking Horse Mountain Restaurants

The pride and joy of the on mountain Kicking Horse dining experience is the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant. Located at the top of the Golden Eagle Express gondola, this is one of the highest restaurants in Canada at 7,705 ft.

With a 360 degree panoramic view, beautiful chalet setting and a world class menu, the Eagle’s Eye is a must for any visitors looking for a luxurious dining experience. The gondola occasionally runs late so the Eagle’s Eye can serve evening meals and the facilities are available for weddings and other functions.

For an alternative stop while on the slopes try the Heaven’s Door Yurt at the base of The Stairway to Heaven chair. This framed tent structure serves sandwiches and snacks and has a barbeque grill outside for burgers and hotdogs.


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