Golden Ears Provincial Park: The Complete Guide

Couple kayaking at Alouette Lake, BC, Canada

 

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Despite being one of BC’s biggest provincial parks, Golden Ears Provincial Park is only 11 kilometers away from Maple Ridge. Loved for its recreational offerings, the park’s trails are popular with hikers and horse riders, while Alouette Lake is a favorite spot for water sports and swimming. Home to three campgrounds and mountainous backcountry, there’s something for every adventurous traveler in this park.

Background

Originally the traditional hunting and fishing grounds for the Douglas-Lillooet (Interior Salish) and Katzie (Coast Salish) First Nations peoples, the Alouette Valley’s forests were also the site of BC’s biggest railroad logging operation in the 1920s until a devastating fire ripped through in 1931. In 1967, the 62,540-hectare area (about 154,500 acres) was named as a Provincial Park. Some people think it takes its name from the two peaks that look like ears whereas other theories are that it is was first named Golden Eyries, in honor of the eagles that live there.

What to Do and See There

Hikers can choose from varied trails that range from short strolls to intensive climbs, and horse riders have more than 20 kilometers of trails to explore on horseback. Spirea Universal Access Trail is wheelchair accessible.

Day visitors can explore the south beach part of Alouette Lake to enjoy the sandy beach and swimming area or rent a canoe or kayak. There are also opportunities for water skiing and windsurfing as the beach is vehicle-accessible at that end.

Interpretive tours are offered, and if you have the appropriate license, there is freshwater fishing available at Alouette Lake, Mike Lake, and Gold Creek.

Two red canoes seen by Alouette Lake in the Golden Ears Provincial park
Canoes at Alouette Lake in the Golden Ears Provincial Park.  

Best Hikes

Home to numerous trails, Golden Ears is a popular destination for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced hikers alike.

  • From the Gold Creek campground parking lot, there is a fairly even 2.7-kilometer trail to Gold Creek’s Lower Falls that takes around an hour each way, and a river beach halfway up the trail is an ideal picnic stop for lunch. Dogs are allowed, but it’s closed to bikers and horse riders.
  • Elsewhere the Mike Lake Trail is for horse riders and hikers—it takes two hours each way (4/2 kilometers) and climbs 100 meters.
  • The Incline Trail follows the line that was once used by loggers to transport huge logs down to Mike Lake (1.2 kilometers, about an hour each way).
  • Advanced hikers can tackle the Alouette Mountain Hiking Trail for spectacular views from Alouette Mountain (10 kilometers, five hours each way).
  • During the wet season, the Viewpoint Trail is home to plenty of waterfalls to enjoy along the way (1.5 kilometers, three hours).
  • Hardcore hikers can take the Golden Ears Trail to Alder Flats and then up an old logging road to steep Panorama Ridge where you can wilderness camp overnight (12 kilometers round-trip, seven hours, 1.5 kilometers in elevation).

    Camping/Facilities

    Options abound for campers with wilderness camping allowed at Alder Flats on the West Canyon Trail and Panorama Ridge on the Golden Ears Trail. Pre-booking is essential, and it's a 5- to 9-kilometer hike.

    If you’re traveling by boat, there are basic marine campsites located on Alouette Lake at Moyer Creek, The Narrows, or Alouette River and Pitt Lake at Raven Creek and North and South Osprey Creek. Only accessible by boat, these rustic sites have tent pads and a pit toilet but no campfires are allowed. Hot shower buildings are located at the Alouette and Gold Creek campgrounds, but there are no showers at North Beach campground. Alouette and North Beach campgrounds are open (and can be reserved) June to September, whereas Gold Creek is open May to October and can be reserved during the summer.

    How to Get There

    Situated in the Coast Mountains, the park can be reached by taking Highway 7 or Dewdney Trunk Road through Maple Ridge. If you’re heading west, turn right onto 232nd, and if you’re heading east, turn left onto 232nd. Then turn right onto Fern Crescent, and continue into the park.