This is an amazing trip, that can be done as either a day hike or overnight. It may be quite challenging, but it is well worth the tough slog to the peak. If you make it to the top on a nice day, you will have stunning views all around, and a good change from the views you get on the usual trails along the Sea-to-Sky highway. It is not frequented by many people, yet it is still relatively close to Vancouver, and if you go in late August, the blueberries and huckleberries are unbeatable! All in all, it is a great hike, but a good physical condition is required as it ends up being around a 9 hour day. But in the end, you get to swim in the wonderful waters of Alouette lake.
- North ear summit: 1 706 meters
- Panorama ridge: 1 000 meters
- Trailhead: 160 meters
- Trail length (round trip): 24 km
- Time to complete: 9-10 hours
- Difficulty: a tough day trip (C2)
- Technical difficulty: steep grade, overgrown trail, loose rock scrambling and permanent snowfield near the top
- NTS Topographic Map: 92 G/7 & 92 G/8 (spliced pdf)
- BC Parks Map (pdf, no contours)
- Google map of trail
- GPS file of the trail
Take the Lougheed Highway East from Vancouver and turn off at the second Dewdney Trunk exit. Follow Dewdney Trunk Rd to 232nd St and take a left. There will be a Golden Ears Park sign on the right at Fern Crescent. Take a right here and follow the main, windy road right into the park gates. Continue along the road and park at the West Canyon Parking Lot with signs for upper and lower canyon trails. Right after passing the park gates you may notice a pullout directing you to pay for parking here and may not have the appropriate loonies/toonies to do so; don't worry, you can pay at the trailhead too.
Note that the park gates are closed from 23:00 to 07:00 in the summer.
The trail is well marked with yellow markers and pink and blue ribbons. Start by following the West Canyon trail, and stick to the main clear trail. Ignore all the little turnoffs to the sides, which you will notice for about the first 2 km or so. At a signed intersection, take the left, as the right will take you to Lower Falls. After about 5.5 km you will reach Alder flats, a small but nice campground beside a creek. Until now the trail was wide and relatively level. From this point and all the way to the ridge, it will be much steeper and more rugged. Also note that the creek is your last water source until about 3 km from the peak. After the campground (but before the steep climb up the ridge begins) the trail follows a long trail of loose rocks. As you come out onto the ridge, make sure to try some of the delicious blueberries. The ridge features enthusiastic swarms of bugs. Going along the ridge, and already enjoying the great views, you will eventually reach an emergency shelter, which can sleep about 6 people, with a good water source. From here all the way to the top, you will have to do some scrambling and route finding, as the trail markers aren't always clearly visible, and there isn't an obvious route. Be careful along this section as you will probably have to cross some snowfields. After a nice break at the top, retrace your steps all the way to the bottom.