Gold Creek Falls Hike – Lower Falls Trail
Gold Creek Falls or the Golden Ears Lower Falls Trail is an easy 5.6km / 3.5 miles return hike located in Golden Ears Provincial Park about a 1 hour 10 minute drive from Vancouver. Golden Ears is an absolutely stunning park with huge pine trees, the greenest mossiest forests, a beautiful lake, waterfalls and insane mountains!
There are loads of hikes within Golden Ears and Gold Creek Falls is one of the easier ones. This hike is family friendly, stroller and wheelchair friendly and dog friendly and takes you through the forest along the creek all the way to the falls along a wide flat path. We thought the creek was absolutely beautiful!
Other than hikes, there are loads of other fun things to do in the park as well! Check out our guide on 8 Fun Things to Do in Golden Ears Provincial Park or our guide on the Spirea Nature Trail including how to find light rays!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about hiking to Gold Creek Falls (Lower Falls) including where to park, how to get park permits and what else there is to do in Golden Ears Provincial Park.
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📃 Hike Stats
Distance: 5.6km / 3.5 miles
Elevation: 80 metres / 262ft
From Vancouver: 1hr 10mins
Dog Friendly: Yes
Toilets: Yes in the carpark
📍 Where is the Gold Creek Falls Hike Located?
Gold Creek Falls is located in Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, about 1 hour 10 minute drive from Vancouver.
Where to Park
The closest parking lot to the Gold Creek Falls trailhead is the Gold Creek Parking Lot. To get to the parking lot, once you have gone through the gates of Golden Ears Provincial Park, follow the Golden Ears Parkway all the way to the end of the road. You will drive past the signs pointing to Alouette Lake and the campgrounds and follow the signs for the Gold Creek Day Area. Right before you reach the Gold Creek Parking lot, you will cross a bridge called Gold Creek Bridge.
This parking lot fills up pretty quickly in the day, especially in Summer even if you have a park permit. If this parking lot is full, you will have to park elsewhere and walk.
Finding the Trailhead
From the Gold Creek Falls parking lot, walk to the left-hand back corner of the parking lot and you will find a little trail that takes you out of the parking lot onto a dirt path. This is where the hike starts.
There are no toilets along the trail, however there is one in the parking lot.
🕐 When is the Best Time to Hike to Gold Creek Falls
The best time to see the falls is during Spring, when the waterfall is at it’s best. This would also be a nice walk for Winter, however the trail could be icy so make sure you are prepared and have micro spikes with you just in case. We have spikes from both Black Diamond and Kahtoola which work well for those slippery Winter hikes.
In Summer (the busiest season to visit Golden Ears), the trail will probably be quite busy so we recommend doing the hike first thing in the morning. The waterfall also might not be flowing as much as during Winter or Spring.
🎟 Do I need a day pass for Gold Creek Falls?
During the off season (aka Winter), you can visit Golden Ears without needing to book a permit. During Winter the park is extremely quiet and you will probably have it almost to yourself.
In Summer, however you will need a day pass to do the Gold Creek Falls Hike in Golden Ears Provincial Park. The park permit system usually begins in June so you just have to look out for it on the BC Parks website. You only need to book a permit to visit Golden Ears if you are visiting between 7am and 3:30pm. Outside these hours, you can come and go as you please as long as the gates are open.
The day pass is free and can be obtained from the BC Parks Reservation Website. These passes can be booked only two days before visiting and the booking system opens at 7am.
We have found, that even with a pass, you are not guaranteed a parking spot in the carpark that you have booked. Because of this, I recommend that you get to the park early to try to beat the crowds.
⌚ Golden Ears Provincial Park Opening Hours
The entrance to Golden Ears Provincial Park is Golden Ears has different opening hours depending on the season. It is open much later in the Summer and closes earlier in the Winter. You can check the current opening hours on the Golden Ears Twitter Account.
🥾 Gold Creek Falls Hike Difficulty
Gold Creek Falls is a great trail for families as it is a really flat and wide trail. We would rate this hike as easy- moderate. The hike distance is not too short and not too long, making it the perfect day hike to do with family or friends because relaxing at North Beach or Alouette Lake with a picnic.
🕐 How Long Does the Gold Creek Falls Hike Take?
The Gold Creek Falls hike to the Lower Falls takes about 2 hours return on average.
🐶 Is the Lower Falls Trail Dog Friendly?
Yes! Your dog can join you on the Gold Creek Falls hike. Dogs are allowed in Golden Ears Provincial Park, however must be kept on a leash.
🏊♀️ Can you swim in Gold Creek Falls?
Gold Creek Falls is impressive to look at and take photos of, however you should not swim in the falls as it is extremely dangerous due to the strong current of water flowing over the rocks from the falls. If you are looking to go for a swim in Golden Ears Provincial Park, you can swim in Alouette Lake or at North Beach.
🥾 Trail Description
Gold Creek Falls is a family friendly and dog friendly hike through the forest along the Lower Falls Trail which runs along the side of the creek. There are toilets located in the parking lot but none on the trail so go before.
The trail is wide and fairly flat so it is a great hike to do if you want to walk and chat with friends. There is minimal elevation and the hike is 5.6km return which will take you around 2 hours. From the parking lot, walk down to the trailhead and you will start walking along the trail through a beautiful mossy forest.
Soon you will start see glimpses of Gold Creek on your left and you will see a few different trails that lead off the path down to the creek. These are great spots to have a rest. Continue along the trail as it gradually climbs uphill towards the falls.
Along the trail, you will see the most beautiful mossy old trees. We came across this giant tree stump which reminded us of something out of the T.V show, Stranger Things!
At the end of the trail, you will reach the Gold Creek Lower Falls lookout. When we were there in Spring the waterfall was so strong that we got quite wet at the viewpoint.
This is also where the maintained trail ends and you do have an option to continue up on a much more confusing narrower trail through the trees to the Upper Falls. This trail is much less family friendly and more of a forest tree root scramble. We decided to end our hike here this time but we may explore the upper falls another time!
👚 What to wear hiking
Hiking Boots – Hiking boots are great for muddy, slippery hikes which is what waterfall hikes usually are, especially during Winter or Spring. Kerry’s loves the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots and Dave’s favourite boots are his Scarpa Kailash Plus Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots.
Hiking Socks – Good hiking socks are important to make your boots as comfortable as possible! Our favourite hiking socks are Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew Socks and the Darn Tough Hiker Midweight with Cushion Micro Crew socks.
Micro Spikes (If in Winter and the ground is icy) – Our micro spikes slip onto the bottom of our boots and have come in really useful on some of our waterfall hikes when the trails are a little icy! Ours are from Black Diamond and Kahtoola.
Merino Top / Tee – Merino is a great material to hike in so we use Merino tops to hike. Our favourite Merino tops are from Icebreaker!
Fleece – Our favourite fleeces are the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip (Kerry’s) and a Mac Pac Fleece from Australia (Dave’s).
Puffer Jacket – Dave’s favourite puffer jacket is the Arcteryx Cerium LT Hoody and Kerry’s favourites are the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Hooded Jacket and Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
Rain Jacket – We bring our raincoats along on all of our hikes, because you know.. just in case!
Beanie – While the weather is still cold, we still bring along our beanies on our hikes. Some of our favourites are from Dakine and Eddie Bauer.
Kerry’s Leggings – Kerry wears leggings on every hike and her favourites are the Lululemon Align pant.
Day Backpack – Our favourite backpack for day hikes is the Osprey Tempest 20 Backpack.
Your Camera Gear! We never go anywhere without ours!
⛺ Camping in Golden Ears
Golden Ears Provincial Park has 3 campgrounds which you can reserve. The campgrounds are all super convenient to get to the nearby hikes and lakes.
The closest campgrounds to the Gold Creek Falls hike are North Beach Campground and Gold Creek Campground. To book, head to the BC Parks Website. If you book a camping spot, you don’t need to get a day permit. The 3 campgrounds are:
- Alouette Campground
- Gold Creek Campground
- North Beach Campground
Other Great Hikes to do Nearby
Golden Ears Provincial Park has loads of amazing hikes but some of our favourites are:
Spirea Nature Trail
The Spirea Nature Trail is barely a hike and more of a stroll through a magical forest. This is probably the mossiest, prettiest forest I have ever seen and it is a great walk for families with young kids.
Golden Ears Summit
Golden Ears Summit is the opposite of the Spirea Trail and is one of the hardest but most beautiful backpacking trips Dave and I have ever done! It is a total grind and my knees still hurt from it but I would also do it again in a heartbeat! There are these amazing camping platforms at the false summit that look out over the jaw dropping views.
Golden Ears is one of our favourite parks near Vancouver and we think that Gold Creek Falls is a great hike to do either on a rainy day, or with friends and kids. If you decide to hike Gold Creek Falls, I recommend also checking out the Spirea Nature Trail or Alouette Lake on the same day.
You might also enjoy:
- 8 Fun Things to do in Golden Ears Provincial Park!
- Golden Ears Summit – The Best Backpacking Trip in Vancouver
- The Magical Spirea Nature Trail – Golden Ears Provincial Park
- 16 Incredible Waterfalls Near Vancouver That You Need to Visit
- Norvan Falls: The Most Beautiful Waterfall Hike in North Vancouver
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