Golden Ears – “The Mountains are Calling, and I Must Go”

View of Golden Ears from Langley Photo: Wikimedia Iykkelige

Gazing at the North Shore mountains, I am often reminded of John Muir’s famous  and beloved quote, “The Mountains are calling, and I must go.” This simple, yet inspirational message, says it all!  When listening to Muir’s call and seeking mountain adventures Vancouverites look first to the North Shore Mountains. Then eyes will turn to the majestic Sea to Sky corridor.  However, directing the compass east points explorers to a wonderful outdoor playground known as Golden Ears Provincial Park.

Entrance to Golden Ears Provincial Park Photo: Rob Weiss

Situated on the north side of the Fraser River, near Maple Ridge, Golden Ears is one of British Columbia’s largest parks.  Featuring hiking, biking, cycling, and equestrian trails, and numerous water sports activities including fishing, swimming, water skiing, paddling and windsurfing, the park is a dream for those seeking outdoor adventure. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound, and birders will delight in the quest to complete their sighting checklists. Hikers will revel at the thought of 80 km of trails all varying in length and difficulty.

Well marked trails in Golden Ears Provincial Park Photo: Rob Weiss

Recently, my hiking partner and I decided to visit Golden Ears and check out the East Canyon Connector route.  This day hike is relatively easy and suitable for children and families.  Climbing gently along the canyon above the creek on an old service road the route features terrific views of the second-growth western hemlock, western cedar and douglas fir forest. There are several creek crossings with numerous opportunities to rock hop.  Always a hit with the kids!

Thanks to the Ridge Meadows Outdoor Club there is a newly flagged “unofficial” route from the East Canyon Trail to several viewpoints on Mt. Nutt.  This trail is rated difficult, and with limited daylight, we decided to save this one for another day, although it was tempting to climb!

Greenery in Golden Ears Provincial Park Photo: Rob Weiss

Continuing along the East Canyon route, we were able to catch glimpses of the Golden Ears looking stunning with a dusting of new snow. Wanting more of a challenge, we decided to follow the connector trail down to the Lower Falls route. The connector route is quite steep, and as we descended to the falls, we quickly become mesmerised by the forest.  The trees towered above us and we found ourselves surrounded by ferns, mosses and lichens, a sea of green!  We did not encounter a single soul on the trail and enjoyed the stillness and calm of the forest as we listened to the falls roaring below.There is evidence of past logging along the route, and as we observed the ancient stumps, we marvelled at the thought of what these trees might look like today.

Moutain Views Photo: Rob Weiss

With daylight hours dwindling, we decided to return to our vehicle via the Lower Falls trail.  Popular among park visitors the lower falls trail is similar to a sidewalk – wide, flat and obviously well used.  Gently, it winds its way along Gold Creek. A fitting end to a lazy day jaunt in Golden Ears Provincial Park!

Getting There:

Access to the park is through Maple Ridge via Dewdney Trunk Road.  Winter camping is available at the Gold Creek Campsite.  Be sure to check the Golden Ears Park Operator’s Twitter feed @ssgparks for updates on winter park and road conditions.  Note, winter park hours are 8 am – 5:30 pm.

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