Character

On the west side of the Columbia valley above the hamlet of Nicholson there is a large bench and it is here that the Moonraker trails are found.  The roots of cross country mountain biking in Golden, these trails can be traced back to the late 1980’s when a network of Nordic ski trials were built. The ski trails were eventually abandoned and resurrected a decade later as x-country bike trials. These smooth flowing trails are the hallmark of x-country riding in the valley.  Along with great riding, the Moonraker trails are rich with natural scenery; there are four lakes and numerous ponds, views of the Purcell’s Dogtooth range to the west and the Rocky Mountain’s Beaverfoot range to the east, and Canyon Creek with its spectacular gorge dropping over 200 m from the canyon’s edge to the creek below.

The lay of the land in the Moonraker system slopes downward from north to south, with Cedar Lake at the north end and the canyon (Canyon Creek) at the south end.  As such you’ll find many fast descents when riding south in the direction of the canyon.

Moonrakers offer something for everyone.  The smooth flow of the trails make this system a great choice for those somewhat new to trail riding.  Notwithstanding, there are several trails that more hardened riders will enjoy for either fast cornering descents (Devil’s Slide, Moonraker Trail) or steeper technical terrain (LSD, Canyon Creek).  Combining your rides in Moonrakers with the trails of the CBT Mainline will offer some of the best riding in the province (see Signature Rides).

All trails are well marked with a signed 4×6 post at every junction (with the exception of the ride up the Tallis Forest Service Road from Cedar Lake Trailhead to the Canyon Creek and LSD trails – these signs seem to keep going missing).  Nonetheless, take a map and get the app.  The app requires a data connection which you should be able to obtain throughout most of the Moonraker network.  The Gudjonson Trailhead is a notable exception – there is no data connection (or cell connection) right at that trailhead.  You have to go about 1km up the trail or 1km back towards the hamlet of Nicholson for data/cell service.

For the most part, the Moonrakers are located on crown land and are shared with hikers, runners and horse riders. There are several parcels of private land and a woodlot operation also exists. The relationship between GCC and the local woodlot licensee is an exemplary demonstration of how such groups can work together.

Access

There are two Trailhead parking areas used to access the Moonraker trail network.  Each has parking space, a toilet, and a kiosk with map.

Cedar Lake Trailhead: From town drive up the ski hill road (Kicking Horse Trail) for approximately 6.5km past the Columbia river bridge and turn left onto the Tallis Forest Service Road.  There is a large sign for Cedar Lake and Moonrakers marking this turnoff.  Continue on the Tallis Forest Service Road for almost 2km and you’ll see the Cedar Lake trailhead parking area with the Moonraker kiosk. (The road continues to the Cedar Lake Recreation Site which has a campground and day use area.) From the trailhead you can access the north end of all the Moonraker trails. You can avoid the 2 km of Tallis Forest Service Road potholes by parking on the KHMR paved road and taking the Odonata trail. The parking is obvious – located opposite the junction of the KHMR road and the Tallis Forest Service Road.

Gudjonson Trailhead: From Golden take Highway 95 south for about 6km where you turn right onto Nicholson Rd and into the hamlet of Nicholson. Continue for 500m turning right onto Canyon Creek Road.  Cross the bridge over the Columbia River and 100m past the bridge is a Y-junction where you turn right onto McBeath Rd.  Continue down for 1.5km and just before the road turns sharp right you’ll see Gudjonson Trailhead to the left.  Park here and use Sternwheeler to access the Moonraker trails at their south end.  Sternwheeler starts with at climb; if you’re not into that then try the Cedar Lake Trailhead.

KHMR: If staying at KHMR, you are able to access the Moonrakers via the new Scalli Mag trail which is due to be completed in 2016. Take Scalli Mag down to Odonata which will take you to the CBT Mainline and the Moonrakers trails.

Trails

Trails Map