The Golden Ears Canyon Loop is basically two fun hikes either side of Gold Creek Canyon, linked together by a bridge, so you can walk in a loop around Golden Ears Provincial Park. This Provincial Park is a gooorgeous area to travel to and explore just over an hour away from Vancouver. If you are an experienced hiker with loads of energy, you can hike up Golden Ears (the mountain the park is named after…) But if you’d prefer to avoid jelly legs, this walk is a far easier option.
We followed the trail described in the 105 hikes book (you can read my review about the 105 hikes book here) BUT as it was waterfall season, we changed the walk slightly to stay closer to the river. Basically we wanted to include the hike to both of the Gold Creek waterfalls. I mean if there is a chance to visit waterfalls, we’ll always take a detour to fit that in!
Golden Ears Canyon Loop Map
Golden Ears Canyon Loop – the basics
Distance: 14 km
Elevation gain: 340m if you go to Alder Flats
High Point: 480m at Alder flats
Time: We took 5.5 hours, including a looong break for lunch and at Alder flats. You can probably do the loop in 4 hours.
What to bring: A Camera!
The 10 Essentials
Facilities: There are toilets in the car park, and at the campsite at Alder Flats
Dogs: Golden Ears Provincial Park is a doggy wonderland.
How hard is it?
Moderate- The official Canyon loop is pretty easy (if a little long) there are some steep sections up to Alder Flats. If you follow our route, it is a bit steep between the waterfalls.
Gold Creek Falls Hike
After looking at a map of the area, we started with the Lower Falls trail (rather than following the official East Canyon trail.) This was mostly so we could take a peek at the Gold Creek Waterfalls. The Lower Falls trail is pretty popular as it is an easy short walk to the waterfall. This meant it was the busiest section of our hike.
Even it was busy, the mossy trees and countless flowers make this trail really pleasant. Can you see the dino face in the log above?
Look at this view of Evans Peak (far left). That mountain gave me complete jelly-legs last year, so it is kind of cool to look up to it and be happy that I made it up there. The other huge mountains are Edge Peak and Blanshard Peak (I think!)
Gold Creek Lower Falls
There are two ways to see the waterfall. There is a viewpoint looking up at the falls where you can see the water thundering down. Then, if you keep walking, you’ll reach the second viewpoint, above the waterfall. From here you’ll be able to see the beautiful green-blue pools of water. Just be reeeeeally careful on the rocks around the waterfall. I imagine it would be easy to slip and find yourself falling into the water and/or tumbling down the waterfall. Eep!
After relaxing and watching all that water charge down the falls, we found the path at the edge of the Gold Creek canyon that leads up to the upper falls. This section of the trail was pretty steep and rugged, with large rock faces and plenty of tall trees.
Gold Creek Upper Falls
It’s a bit more effort to reach the Upper Falls, so there are far fewer people here. To reach it, you can either take the Connector Trail Loop, or follow the trail we took along the top of the canyon. We visited on a busy Sunday, but by the time we got to this viewpoint, it was just us and one other couple. There is no official path down to the falls, but there is a fantastic view from up high.
It’s easy to see how this beach got its name! What a fantastic viewpoint! We looked up to Edge Peak and Golden Ears while munching some lunch. There was still a lot of snow up on Golden Ears. It is such an awesome-looking mountain.
Next you need to backtrack for 1 km to cross the river on a bridge. You might be able to wade across the river later in the summer, but the water was just a little *too* deep when we visited in April. The colour of the water is such a good shade of blue!
The West Canyon Trail
This is the section of the Golden Ears Canyon Loop that will get your heart pumping! The description of the Gold Creek Loop in the 105 hikes book includes a detour up to Alder Flats. We decided our legs needed a bit more of a workout, so we did this extra mini walk. There are plenty of boardwalks to help you cross the myriad of creeks, but the path is steep and a great little workout.
There are some fantastic views of the surrounding mountains from up at this camp site! I think this view is Edge Peak, with Golden Ears peeking out from behind it. Camping up here must be fantastic!
Gold Creek Lookout
After taking in the views, follow the trail back down to the West Canyon trail. Then, follow the path along to this viewpoint down to Gold Creek. A little further along, there is a side trail that will take you down to (fantastic sounding) view of the Lower Falls. We skipped that one so I might have to visit it next time.
Gorgeous Lighting through trees
By the time we made it to the end of the trail it was around 5:30pm, so the sun was shining with gorgeous golden light through the moss-covered trees. It was a pretty magical view to finish the day!
I hope you like the look of this as much as we liked walking it! It’s a great trail for acclimatizing your legs ready for more epic alpine hikes in the summertime.
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