East Canyon Trail, 8 May 2010

Also known as the way to Hector Ferguson Lake. The weather forecast for the day was excellent, and given the snow levels we decided on a pleasant walk in the woods. We hadn’t really considered this trail before, but a favourable report from Ahmad on LiveTrails persuaded us that it would be worth a try. We left Vancouver under sunny skies and reached Golden Ears an hour later, parking at the East Canyon parking lot.

We set off on the horse/biking/hiking trail, an old logging road. I wasn’t looking forward to this bit, but in the end we chatted our way along and passed the time quite happily. We encountered a couple of groups of backpackers heading further up the trail. The trail was marked with orange squares at every km, and a short distance after about 2.5 km I saw the trail coming in from Gold Creek Falls. Though marked on the map, there was no description of a trail linking the Falls with so we stuck to the road. But now we knew of its existence we figured we’d take that route on the return to save us a little bit of boring logging road.

East Canyon Trail, 8 May 2010

A little bit more elevation later and we were at more or less the highest point on the trail and we descended over the next few hundred metres and returned to the river level. A gap in the trees allowed us to get to the edge of the creek with our first views of the snowy peaks of Edge and Golden Ears. A couple of km later (at 4.58 km, apparently) we came to a junction with an outhouse. A trail led to the left down to the river and a large open gravel bank with much better views of the mountains. Back on the trail, and within another 1.5-km the road came to an end, leaving us on a narrow muddy trail. The character of the forest changed within a matter of a few tens of metres from moonscape-second growth to lush old growth. Now we were at the point where things got interesting :-)

East Canyon Trail, 8 May 2010

We’d made quite good time so far, but within a short distance our pace slowed dramatically as we found ourselves in an infinitely-more photogenic landscape. Big cedars were all around us, with a rich understory of berry bushes and smaller trees. The sun was shining which deepened the green of Gold Creek. Gorgeous!

We crossed a small creek on a bouncy pair of logs with a very shaky handrail and spent the next few minutes walking alongside gravel banks of minor tributaries and/or braids of Gold Creek. A little further and we encountered the largest trees of the day with numerous huge cedars, one of which was slightly hollowed out at the base. Merewyn couldn’t resist crouching in the hollow to take on the appearance of a tree resident :-) The km markers slowly ticked by and just as we reached the 8 km marker near a rockslide we noticed the clouds were looking a little thicker. We checked the time and decided that we ought to turn around anyway, but within seconds of making that decision we heard a rumble or two of thunder and the heavens opened. Not with rain, but cold, hard pellets of hail. We beat a hasty retreat back under the dense forest cover and returned to the nearest gravel bank for lunch.

East Canyon Trail, 8 May 2010

A fallen tree made the perfect seat for us all to sit on and we enjoyed our lunch next to Gold Creek under blue-and-white skies. Merewyn sent her SPOT message as usual, Andrew skipped stones on the creek, while we relaxed and took photos. A woodpecker darted from tree-to-tree around us, and we caught it heading into a hole in a nearby maple. We must have spooked it as it didn’t re-emerge.

Our return journey was quicker and we soon reached the turnoff down to the falls. Initially fairly level, it dropped very steeply in the last hundred metres or so, leading us directly to the topside of the falls. We ventured out onto the smooth slabs by the creek, taking care not to slip. Gold Creek Falls aren’t very high, but the volume of water is impressive and a trip over the falls probably wouldn’t end well. By now the sun was shining again and the falls were clearly on the tourist radar. We took more photos, took the trail down below the falls to see them face on and took even more photos. The cold spray off the falls was really refreshing!

East Canyon Trail, 8 May 2010

Happy with our day out, we took the trail back to the car (passing numerous families along the way) through verdant second-growth before heading home via Tim Hortons for a crappy sandwich with their new bread. All in all a fine day out.

Distance: 16 km
Elevation gain: about 250 m
Photos on Flickr

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