When the weather is nice, it's easy to stay in Vancouver and enjoy all of the sites and sounds of the city. After all, Stanley Park, English Bay, Jericho Beach and Granville Island are all fun attractions to visit, but there's something so blissful about leaving the city for something a little off beat. Jump in your car and start driving towards Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge. It's amazing how you can be in a city one minute and about 60 minutes later be in pure silence amongst the beautiful forests inside this provincial Park.
The great outdoors — Photo courtesy of Marcin Chady on Flickr
Golden Ears Provincial Park is perfect for a day or a week. There are hundreds of camp sites within the park that can be reserved months in advance. If you're planning on going for more than a day on a long weekend, it's advisable that you do take the opportunity to book well in advance. If you're going for a day, no need to worry about that, parking will be the only thing you will have to worry about.
From the moment you enter into the provincial park, you may notice that your cell phone reception shuts off. This may make meeting up with people somewhat tricky, so it's a good idea to have a meeting place and time before you go as a back up. Inside the park there are trails that you can hike, bike and even horseback ride on. You will know which ones you can cycle and horseback ride on as there are signs indicating so. The southern area of Golden Ears Provincial Park is the most accessible and has the highest concentration of trails to use.
The park surrounds Alouette Lake, a crisp fresh body of water that's ideal for canoeing, fishing, sailing and swimming. The water can be quite cool, but it's a welcome chill on a hot summer day. If you do go fishing, make sure that you have acquired a BC fishing license. They're inexpensive and easy to get, too. The south side of Alouette Lake is where the day use beach and picnic areas are. The campgrounds have their own private beaches, but campers sometimes venture over to the south side as well. If you have your own boat, there's a boat launch that you can use to load in your vessel and head out on the open waters.
The Classic Course — Photo courtesy of WildPlay Element Parks (Facebook)
One of the newer attractions down the road from Golden Ears Park is WildPlay Elements Park. This park is an old campground that has been revitalized into an interactive park that will keep kids happy and entertain the adults too. The park is a series of treetop adventures, ziplines and other adrenaline inducing activities. The treetop adventures get you to traverse zip lines, swing on ropes, climb scrambling walls and hanging nets, test your balance on wobbly bridges, and navigate other fun challenges. The park has areas that are specifically for younger children and those ages 12 and up, so you really can please everyone in your group. There is also a barbeque area and picnic tables within this park, so feel free to bring a picnic lunch.
Test your reach on these ropes! — Photo courtesy of WildPlay Element Parks (Facebook)
This day trip is really one not to be missed because the drive is easy and the destination is more than awesome. Don't be surprised if you find yourself planning your next trip back to Golden Ears, but for camping the next time.