Golden Ears has two distinctive summits which from certain angles do loosely resemble ears. The mountain was originally known by the natives as the 'Golden Eyrie', the place where the golden eagles nested. Its northern ear can be acended via the golden ears trail. The southern ear is climbed much less frequently but can be reached relatively easily on the same day.
The Golden Ears are located in Golden Ear provincial park (located 40km east of Vancouver), one of the largest provincial parks in the province (62500 ha) and it is conjoined with Garibaldi provincial park to the north. The park is located 6km north of the town of Maple Ridge, a suburb of Vancouver.
The north Ear is one of the most frequently climbed peaks in the greater Vancouver area. It presents quite a challenge to hikers and climbers alike, and is a very popular destination spring, summer and fall.
The easiest route is a hike up with some class III section's and with the ever present snow and the steepness of the route it is much more than your average walk up. This peak is for more experienced back country hikers and climbers. It is far more remote than any of the other frequently climbed peaks in the greater Vancouver area and because of this should be taken seriously.
The trail is a 25km roundtrip hike that pretty much demands that the party stay the night or get an early start and prepare to get back late. The total elevation gain is 1500 meters, just under 5000 feet so it is no Sunday afternoon picnic destination.
The park is a beautiful place, the trail meanders along beautiful Golden Creek until you reach the point where you start across the alder flats and up towards panorama ridge. A great location for anyone who wants to really get a taste of what the North Shore mountains have to offer and wants to get away from it all in the back country without driving for hours.
The park is located off of highway 7. As Highway 7 enters the municipality of Maple Ridge from the west, it intersects with the Dewdney Trunk Rd. Drive east on Dewdney Trunk Rd, then north on 232nd St. Follow provincial park signs from here northwards until you reach the park proper.
From there proceed to the West Canyon parking lot where the West Canyon trail begins and later merges with the Golden Ears trail. You hike along gold creek and across the alder flats. This is where the trail steepens dramtically and most of the altitude is gained. The view form the top of Panorama ridge is incredible. From here you proceed across a permanent snow field to the tip of the northern ear and begin your final ascent.
As previously mentioned this back country trip is for experienced climbers only, it is a 25km (15.5 miles) roundtrip hike with an elevation gain of 1500 meters. Nothing for an experienced mountaineer but a climb to be taken seriously at the very least for even those with plenty of experience.
There are no permits required though back country camping is resticted because of limited sites. The area is an avalnche hazard for the winter because of the bowl of the valley starting at the base of Panorama ridge and moving westward.
As per all spots in the Greater Vancouver area the golden rule is to be followed... pack out what you pack in. It is also asked that you stay on the trail as much as possible so as to keep impact to a minimum. There is no parking pass required but ther are day use fees and overnight fees as well.
When To Climb
The best time of year to climb is May to October. As previously mentioned it is a far different task in the winter because of the five meter plus amounts of snow and the distinct avalanche hazard the area represents.
Camping is allowed in two places along the trail. At Alder Flats and on Panorama Ridge. Camping is tightly controlled and operates on a first come first serve basis. It is $22 CDN per night to sleep and there is a five dollar fee to park for the day at the various parking lots located throughout the park. There is a hut on Panorama ridge that can sleep eight people, but if that is your goal I would almost advise an alpne start as it is usually taken early.
There are no mountain web cams. The most accurate way to get weather data in my opinion is via theweather network check either its parks forecast for Golden Ears Provincial Park, or the weather for the town of Maple Ridge. That should yield the most accurate weather information. You can call 604 795 6169 for current weather conditions. The park staff are usually more than willing to help people out.
Check www.compusmart.ab.ca. I found this on a page entitled extensive moutnain weather forecasts. I checked it out and it has forecasts for all of the parks. Straightforward to navigate as well.