- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
The Golden Ears Summit is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding hikes in all of the Vancouver region. Located in Golden Ears Provincial Park, this popular hike provides 360 views over stunning vistas and is often completed over two days.
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Route Description for Golden Ears
Find the trailhead for the Golden Ears hike from the West Canyon parking lot. Spot the sign for ‘Ridge Meadows Outdoors Club’ sign and head onto the trail. Almost immediately, you’ll arrive at a fork, take the path marked for Alder Flats and West Canyon Trail to the right.
The path starts off easy on a wide, gravel road with only a slight incline, though it won’t last long. Pass by Menzies Trail, a shared horse path, until you spot a sign for the West Canyon Trail.
Continue until you reach a footbridge, pass over it and in about 5 minutes you will see a trail on your left marked for the Viewpoint Trail. You can ignore this path, continuing straight on the trail.
Follow the orange markers for 1.0km, until you cross over another bridge, where the trail begins to decline downwards again. You’ll notice the trail begins to narrow, and you will continue over another large, fast-flowing creek via. a small bridge. Once you hit the 3.0 km mark, you’ll find a sign for Alder Flats and Golden Ears to the left, follow it as it cuts up and becomes steep and rocky
At the 3.5 km mark, the trail will become significantly harder with steep wooden steps to climb and short switchbacks. While it may become more difficult, it is still well-marked by orange trail flags.
Soon you’ll reach the unmissable Gold Creek Lookout. Spot the sign and head out to the point for a beautiful look over the waters below.
The trail carries on from the lookout, rolling up and down, with the valley down to your right.
From here, take in the scenic forest and listen to the stillness that surrounds you. Cross over the next creek, then find the marker pointing out Alder Flats to the left and East Canyon Trail to the right – go left towards Alder Flats.
You’ve arrived at the wetlands, where you’ll walk over a metal boardwalk keeping you off the wet, muddy ground.
At about 5.0 km into the hike, you’ll come to a bridge crossing yet another creek. This is the last point for drinking water and you should definitely stop to refill here for your journey ahead.
Continue over a multitude of creeks, too many to count. Then head uphill on the path, keeping the creek to your left. This will be well-marked.
Around 5.5 km, you will reach Alder Flats Here, there is the option to set up camp or use the outhouse. Continue to follow the orange markers, where now the Golden Ears Trail begins and the West Canyon Trail comes to an end.
The path quickly turns uphill along an old logging road, where the trail becomes covered in roots, before becoming a rocky single-track trail. You will come to a point where there is a sign pointing you to Golden Ears to the left.
From here, the path becomes very steep up a rocky path, but you’ll immediately be rewarded with views overlooking Alouette Mountain, Blanshard Peak, Edge Peak, and Golden Ears.
Just past this lookout of these beautiful mountains, you will see a 6.5 km marker in a tree.
Spot the 6.5 km marker and follow as the trail cuts back into the forest, rising over a rocky path.
Get the blood flowing as you head even further uphill, until you finally reach the next clearing overlooking Edge Mountain on your left. Stop here for a moment, before heading up the wooden staircase to your left.
The terrain gets technical here, with short flights of stairs and rocky outcrops. Then you’ll come face to face with some ropes that are needed to help you scramble to the next point.
Just after the 8.0 km point, you’ll reach a lookout where you can take in the mountains to the east: Mount Robie Reid, Mount Martyn and others. The higher you go, the better the views with Golden Ears and the surrounding ridges, including aptly named, Panorama Ridge.
At one opening, you’ll have almost 360-degree views, with Mount Baker to the south.
From this point, you’ll notice a handful of side trails, you want to follow the pink flagging to stay on the trail heading up towards the sub-alpine.
Come to a clearing at the 9.5 km mark, where you can spot the beloved Mount Garibaldi and Atwell Peak, rising up above the clouds.
Veer left, staying on the trail, following the direction of the little arrows in the trees if you can spot them.
The trail heads west, opening up to views of Pitt Lake . You’ll spot a wooden ladder that will assist you as you descend a steep drop.
From here, you begin to ascend the Panorama Ridge, keeping careful footing along the narrow pathway. Take in the incredible mountain views surrounding you: Golden Ears directly ahead of you. Behind you, Raven Lake can be found nestled down below Raven Peak. To the south, you will see Mount Baker.
Continue to follow the orange markers and at 1,370 m elevation and 10.5 km into your hike, you’ll arrive at an emergency hut (though it is only to be used in emergency situations).
The views here are breathtaking and this is typically the end point for most hiker’s journeys.
But that being said, if weather permits and you are very physically fit, you can continue onwards to the summit. You will need at least 45 minutes to reach the summit from the hut and be sure to do it during daylight.
From the hut, push onwards along the ridge, where you should proceed with caution over the loose rocks.
There is no clearly defined path, but you can see the general markings of the route most hikers take. Prepare for some very hard climbing that will require using your hands at times.
Once you’re at the next lookout point, you’re going to turn to your right and climb up. From here, things get very steep, exposed, and more dangerous. Many people feel uncomfortable and turn around at this point, so only proceed if you have the skills to be safe in this type of environment. Even if you have the skills, if you are low on energy, time, or confidence, this is the spot to turn around. If you are proceeding onwards, watch for markers and really take your time as you climb to the top.
Finally, take in the incredible, sweeping views as you emerge at the summit of Golden Ears. There is truly no other view like it in all of Vancouver.
After a long rest, you can return to your car by following the trail from the emergency hut, to Alder Flats and back to your car, or you can choose to camp for the night at one of the two backcountry campsites listed above.
Insider Hints for Golden Ears
- While beautiful, this is not a beginner hike. It is steep, long, and difficult! Those wanting to complete the hike in a single day need to start early and be prepared to be finishing late.
- There are two backcountry camping options for the Golden Ears hike: Alder Flats Campground & Panorama Ridge Campground)
- For the Golden Ears hike, bring plenty of water and a means of filtering water as well. There are no spots to refill past the half-way point, so bring more than you think you’ll need.
- Summiting the mountain is possible, but not recommended. At all times during the year, except late summer on low snowpack years, you will likely need crampons and an ice axe to safely traverse the snowfield and icy terrain to gain the summit.
- For this hike especially, ensure you have a headlamp packed as you will be traversing downhill over rocky, tricky terrain in the dark.
Getting to the Golden Ears Trailhead
From Maple Ridge head north on 227th Street and go right on 128th Avenue. Turn left on 232nd Street, then right on 132nd Avenue. Go right on Fern Crescent, which turns into Golden Ears Parkway. Continue to the West Canyon Parking lot in Golden Ears Provincial Park.
Golden Ears Elevation Graph
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