The Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears is a short and easy trail with the beautiful Gold Creek Falls at the end of it. This is the perfect spot for people looking to get out of the city and enjoy some incredible scenery without having to put too much effort in. The trail winds through the forest and along Gold Creek while the surrounding mountains tower above you on a clear day.
There is almost no elevation gain and this route is popular with families due to the easy access. As it is just an hour outside of downtown Vancouver, this is a great place to come and escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours.
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Lower Falls Trail Overview
This is a 5.5 kilometre out and back trail that should take 1.5 hours or less. The main trail is a relatively flat gravel trail that is super easy. Alternatively, you can create a loop by taking the East Canyon Trail and then the connector trail to Lower Falls. This makes the hike around 7.5 kilometres long and should take 2 hours. Both trail options will be covered in this guide.
How to Get to Golden Ears Provincial Park
Unfortunately, there is no public transport from Vancouver to Golden Ears so your only option is to drive. This park gets extremely busy on the weekends and it can be hard to find parking here after 9am. Try and visit during the week if possible, and if you go on the weekends make sure you arrive early.
From downtown Vancouver take the Trans-Canada Highway out of the city and take the exit onto the Mary Hill Bypass just before it crosses the Fraser River. This will take you onto British Columbia Highway 7 which you can take into Maple Ridge. At the Meadow Gardens Golf Club turn off onto Golden Ears Way and follow the signs to Golden Ears Provincial Park.
Once you are in the park follow the road all the way to the final day use car park, as this is where you will find the trail head for this hike.
Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears
The simplest and easiest way to reach Gold Creek Falls is to follow the Lower Falls Trail. You will find the trailhead just off the road that leads into the car park and you should easily spot it as you are driving in. There are several toilets in the car park which you can use before starting your hike but there is also another bathroom near the falls.
The trail starts off by winding through the beautiful old-growth forest before it eventually runs parallel to Gold Creek. Once you reach the creek the view opens up to the surrounding mountains and is sensational on a clear day. The creek is also extremely pretty and the emerald green water is crystal clear.
There are multiple viewpoints along this trail and we recommend stopping at all of them to enjoy the views. If you visit on a hot day and want to cool down in the freezing cold water, then there are also a couple of spots where you can swim along the creek as well. Just be careful and make sure that you choose a safe spot where the water isn’t flowing too fast.
Gold Creek Falls
After around 45 minutes you will arrive at the bottom of the falls where you will be welcomed by the spray that is created as the water crashes down the falls. It’s so refreshing to stand right on the edge of the viewing area and have the spray cool you down, especially on a hot and sunny day.
The falls are only around 20 feet tall but are extremely powerful. There is a huge amount of water pouring over the edge every second and you can feel the power of the falls as you watch them from below. After cooling off at the viewing area you can follow the trail up to the top of the Lower Falls.
You can climb down and stand right by the top of the falls, but watch your step as the rocks are extremely slippery. We saw several people dangerously sliding across the rocks during our short time here and were very close to the edge of the falls.
There is an emerald green pool at the top of the falls where the water swirls around before cascading over the edge of the rocks. The view from the top of the falls is really cool and you also get a small glimpse further up the creek.
Keep in mind the power of the falls and how careful you need to be around the water edge. I am sure it doesn’t need to be said, but this pool is definitely just for viewing. There have been several fatalities here in the past from people that have fallen in.
Once you have had your fill of the Lower Creek Falls you can make your way back down the same path to the car park. This route should take you no more than 2 hours and is very easy, as it is mainly a flat gravel trail the whole way. You can also complete this hike just as easily in the winter and it is one of our favourite winter hikes around Vancouver.
Want to know exactly what we pack for a day out hiking? Check out our quick list below or read our full guide for what to bring on a day hike here.
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Alternative Route: East Canyon Trail
While the Lower Falls Trail is the quickest and easiest way to get to the falls, we actually recommend taking the East Canyon Trail. This trail connects to the falls and then you can follow the Lower Falls Trail back to the car park. This means you can complete a loop trail, rather than an out and back trail which has different views and some slight elevation gain to give you a bit more of a workout.
This option is slightly longer at around 6.5 kilometres and there is just over 100 metres of elevation gain. This is still an easy route, but we found it more interesting to complete this loop.
The trailhead for the East Canyon Trail can be found right at the very back of this car park. The trail veers right before a short incline takes you into the forest. The path then gradually rises through the forest for the next few kilometres. There are several small creek crossings although there are plenty of stepping stones to help you get across and avoid getting your feet wet.
On this trail you will pass the turn off for Mount Nutt, which is on the right hand side, so you will probably see some serious hikers on this trail. After less than an hour of walking along this trail you will come to the Connector Trail Loop which will lead you right to the top of the Falls.
The Connector Trail is a short and steep descent through the forest and there are some muddy and slippery sections to navigate down, but overall it isn’t too difficult. The descent only takes about 5 – 10 minutes and literally puts you out right at the top of the falls.
You can complete this loop in both directions but we recommend going in via the East Canyon Trail and coming back out via the Lower Falls Trail as this gives you a gradual incline with a short and steep decline rather than the other way around. It is also nice to enjoy the views along Gold Creek on the way back out as well.
The Lower Falls Trail in Golden Ears is the perfect easy hike with a great payoff. It’s close to the city, has an awesome waterfall and it is super easy, which is a sweet combination. This is also a great spot to head with the family as it will be easy for the kids as well. Although it can be really busy on the weekends, we still really enjoyed coming here and the views around Golden Ears Provincial Park are stunning.
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