One of the newest bridges in Metro Vancouver is the Golden Ears Bridge in the suburbs which crosses the Fraser River with highway approaches to the bridge from Langley, Surrey, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. This 1 km. 4 lane road bridge with bike-pedestrian protected lanes on each side, was completed in June 2009. It is the first toll bridge in Metro Vancouver.
The name of the bridge was derived from a local naming contest organized by TransLink. Its iconic name aligns with several, nearby natural, eye-catching phenomena –the Golden Ears Provincial Park with its beautiful mountain range nearby as well as the golden eagle,a local species which is featured in information poster plaques along the bike-pedestrian bridge path.
The bridge design features 2 golden metal eagle sculptures at the top of the bridge, that were fashioned by a German company –after the initial sculptural design by a U.S. firm was abandoned for structural weakness. There are golden light posts that flank the entrances of the bridge. The bridge fence design mimics the local aboriginal fish traps (with metal fish shapes), used by the Katzie First Nations, who are part of the Sto:Lo people that lived, fished and farmed in this area for centuries.
It is this area where over 1 million salmon annually swim through the Fraser River from the Pacific. It is also an area where there have been the near-extinct sturgeon fish or as the aboriginals call it, “ancient” fish, since sturgeon can mature up to 80-100 years old.
Near the Golden Ears Bridge is the shorter Pitt River Bridge which was completed shortly before the Golden Ears Bridge. Other nearby local sites are Fort Langley, site of 1827 Hudson’s Bay Trading Post in Langley, Derby Reach Park and the Pitt Meadows Dykes area (beautiful purple carpet of vegetation in the fall). http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/bc/langley/natcul.aspx
It is over 100 km. round cycling trip between downtown Vancouver and the bridge which I have done several times. A nearly full day, if you make 1-2 stops to eat and relax. This area also can be reached by using the Central Valley Bikeway from Vancouver with connecting routes either via the Barnett Highway (which has a wide road shoulder) into Port Moody and onward. Check out the crossing area to the bridge here. Some cycling and walking map routes in the Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge which include the dykes park area. This web page also lists links to hiking trails in the Golden Ears Provincial Park and more parks.
You can also cut down the distance by cycling from the Sperling Translink Sky Train station near the end of the Central Valley Greenway path or from Braid Station.
During $800 million bridge construction, the project was planned to permit archaeological teams to comb through a part of First Nations land that the bridge would be passing through. The team led by a Simon Fraser University archaeology professor, discovered an incredible archaeological find of thousands of pottery shards, metal implements and most of all, preserved 3,600 year old wapato or potatoes.
The bog conditions preserved the potato evidence which in ancient times, was used as a form of food currency since carbohydrates were valuable compared to the local abundance of fresh salmon. This is evidence that these aboriginals were creating one of the first known gardens or mini farms in North America. It debunks the theory that earliest First Nations people were hunters and gathers. More about the archaeological discovery in the local paper, Maple Ridge Times.
It may be the suburbs. But I promise, you will see the distant mountain ranges often during the bike ride with stopovers in various parks along the way. Some more detailed bike route map instructions on dealing with some of the road ramps and interchanges close to the bridge: http://www.vacc.bc.ca/pdf/GoldenEarsBridgeCyclingFacilities.jpg