Maple Ridge is a small city located between the beautiful Fraser River and the majestic Golden Ears mountain peaks. This family-oriented community prides itself on its culture and boasts some of the most beautiful parks in the province. Whether you live in Maple Ridge, are taking a vacation there, or are just passing through, you won’t regret visiting at least one of the parks on this list.
1. Golden Ears Provincial Park
24480 Fern Crescent, Maple Ridge, BC
On the north side of the Fraser River, nestled in the mountains, there lies a breath-taking natural park known as Golden Ears Provincial Park. At over 62,000 hectares in size, this park is one of the largest provincial parks in British Columbia and one of the more impressive parks in the Metropolitan Vancouver area. This massive park is located 10 km north of Maple Ridge and is connected to the even larger Garibaldi Provincial Park, which continues all the way up past Whistler. Golden Ears Provincial Park gets its name from the prominent twin peaks of Mount Blanchard that are commonly referred to as the “golden ears” because of their resemblance to bunny ears.
There are a plethora of activities available for visitors to this park that will appeal to all ages and activity levels. Home to three major campgrounds and an extensive trail network, Golden Ears provides a home for outdoor enthusiasts all year round.
The Alouette Lake campground is by far the most popular campground in this park, and is situated alongside the rather large Alouette Lake. Here, campers can enjoy stunning views of the lake and mountains while enjoying a picnic with the family on the spacious green lawn that precedes it. The lake itself is not monitored by a lifeguard, and has a rocky shore, so it is well advised to take extra precautions while swimming here. If you have a pair of water shoes, they are a good idea to wear, and if you are water skiing, fishing, or out for a casual boat ride, it is important to remember to wear a life jacket. If you are planning to fish, it is mandatory that you carry a freshwater fishing license. Aspiring anglers can apply for a yearly license for a small fee at this website.
This section of the park is open for weekend camping or for day use during the summer season (April to October) and also offers rentals on canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats, with weekend rentals starting on the May long weekend and continuing to the end of June, at which point rentals are available daily until Labour Day. For people looking to camp here, Alouette Lake is an extremely popular campsite and can fill up quickly. Reservations can be made through the Discover Camping website and can be made up to 2 months in advance.
If you continue north from Alouette Lake, you will stumble upon the Gold Creek campground, which is open all year round. This campground is situated by the river and features a 2.7 km trail that leads to Gold Creek’s Lower Falls. Along this trail, there is a small beach area that is perfect for stopping for a picnic lunch and taking a short dip in the water to cool off before continuing on your hike. While this campground is open all year, reservations can only be made from May until September.
If you’re looking for a bit more solitude, the North Beach campground is the smallest and most secluded campground in the park. This small campsite is located on the northern side of Alouette Lake and features a small, sandy beach with beautiful views of the mountains.
If you’re not looking for a camping experience and simply want to go to Golden Ears for a hike, there is an extremely extensive trail system that is suitable for both casual hikers looking to soak in the natural landscapes and for more intermediate hikers and rock climbers. There are also many trails for horseback riding and cycling. The Golden Ears trail is the most popular, extending 12 km and features a spectacular panoramic view of Fraser Valley at its peak. Remember that if you will be out hiking, these trails are not monitored, so it is important to let someone know the trails you will be hiking and your approximate return time. It is also important to remember to bring enough fresh water, snacks and/or a lunch, bugspray, and sunscreen, as there is nowhere to purchase these items once you enter the park.
As this is a natural park and things can change quickly, be sure to check their website for any updates or advisories before going.
2. Memorial Peace Park
22407 Dewdney Trunk Rd., Maple Ridge, BC
Memorial Peace Park is a lively park that is located in the downtown core of Maple Ridge. Surrounded by city hall, a leisure centre with a pool, the ACT arts centre, and the Haney Place mall, this spacious park was designed to be a community gathering place and has something for everyone.
This park is adorned with large fountains at its entrance, which give way to a sprawling green lawn and beautiful gardens. In the centre of the park, visitors will find a sizeable grandstand that is the centre of a multitude of events held in the park throughout the year, such as the jazz and blues festival, Christmas in the park, and the Santa Claus parade. The bandstand is also commonly used for wedding ceremonies and movie shoots. Because of the serene and picturesque backdrop, many romantic comedies are filmed at this location.
Throughout the summer months, Memorial Peace Park hosts special events weekly that are usually free to the public. These events include movies and live music in the park, as well as the Haney Farmers Market, which takes place every Saturday. To find out which events are happening during any given month, just check their event calendar.
No matter which day of the week you decide to go to this park, you will be sure to find families and individuals alike relaxing and enjoying themselves.
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3. Whonnock Lake Park
27871 113th Avenue, Maple Ridge, BC
This beautiful park is located in eastern Maple Ridge, and is a hidden gem that is teeming with wildlife and gorgeous scenery. The word “whonnock” derives from the First Nations language of Halkomelem, and is said to mean, “a place where there are always humpbacked salmon”. Whonnock Lake is a natural muskeg lake that, if left alone, would turn into a marshland. In the past, beavers would create dams that regulated the water levels of the lake, but now the city takes care of this body of water, ensuring that it is safe for people to swim and fish in. This park is home to many colonies of beavers and muskrats, as well as loons, mallard ducks, countless types of small birds, bullfrogs, and green frogs. The shores of the lake are filled with an abundance of large tadpoles that can be easily seen.
At the entrance of the park lies the Whonnock Lake Centre, which is home to many community activities, including adventure day camps for kids of all ages, kayak and canoe lessons for kids and adults, and yoga classes, to name a few. It is also home to the canoe and kayak club of Maple Ridge, as well as the Lakeside Preschool.
To adequately enjoy all that Whonnock Lake Park has to offer, it is best to plan to spend the entire day at this beautiful sandy beach lake. If you have kids, they will love coming here to swim, catch tadpoles along the shallow shores, or play in the large children’s playground. If you don’t have kids, Whonnock Lake Park features an abundance of activities for all age groups, including canoeing and kayaking, hiking, beach volleyball, and a large picnic shelter with barbecues that can be rented.
Whonnock Lake Park is a popular spot for people who enjoy fishing as well, as the lake is stocked with trout at various times of the year, and provides a peaceful and relaxing experience for those out on the boat.
The park is open to the public from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM, although these hours are subject to change.
4. Kanaka Creek Park
11450 256 St, Maple Ridge, BC
In the early 1800s, labourers from Hawaii (known in their native language as “kanakas”) were employed to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company transporting goods on ships into Europe. When these labourers arrived in Fraser Valley, many of them settled there permanently and made their homes along the lower section of the creek, which is how it got its name.
Kanaka Creek Park is located southwest of downtown Maple Ridge and extends for several kilometres along the beautiful Kanaka Creek. This park features all types of landscapes, ranging from forested trail areas for hiking, paths for cycling and horseback riding, and open green areas for picnics and relaxing in the park.
There are two main trails in this park, the Canyon Trail and the Riverfront Trail. The Canyon Trail stretches for a little over a kilometre and leads hikers to the salmon hatchery and Cliff Falls. This trail has an uneven terrain and is not recommended for cycling, but is relatively easy to walk through. On this trail, you will be led through the forest on a peaceful hike that is accompanied by the scents of Douglas firs and red cedars, and the sounds of birds chirping from the trees and the babbling of the creek that runs through it. Along the way, you will encounter majestic sandstone cliffs that have been carved out by the creek and a beautiful waterfall that is visible from several vantage points on the trail. If you choose to continue on this trail, you will come across the Bell Irving salmon hatchery where you can see spawn and young salmon in their natural environment. The fish are fed 2-4 times a day, and you can watch the feedings for free!
The Riverfront Trail is more easily accessible for people who are cycling or are in a wheelchair and provides a flat-surfaced walkway that makes for a nice leisurely stroll. If you go in one direction, you will be taken along the river and the trail remains out in the open. In the other direction, you will still be walking along the riverfront, but you will be taken through the forest in some areas.
It is important to note that bears are active in this forest, although they are generally uninterested in interacting with humans. However, knowing safe bear practices is recommended if you are planning to hike this trail--stay back at least 100 meters and make plenty of noise to warn bears of your presence. For any other advisories and information, you can check this website.
5. Maple Ridge Park
23200 Fern Crescent, Maple Ridge, BC
Maple Ridge Park is a large, family-friendly park that is located only 5 minutes from Golden Ears Provincial Park and features a shallow, slow-moving river that runs through the entire park. Because this river is a natural “lazy river”, it is a popular spot amongst locals for tubing, kayaking, and swimming.
In addition to the water activities that can take place within the river, there is also a spray park that operates in the summer and is perfect for keeping kids cool during the hot weather. Other amenities at Maple Ridge Park include a baseball diamond, a huge playground for kids, a horseshoe pitch, and several picnic benches.
The trail that goes into the forest surrounding the park is less than 1 km, and is accessible to wheelchairs. The trail leads you through a beautiful forest that is home to various native plants and wildlife, and ends not far from a privately-owned adventure playground called WildPlay Element Park that is open to the public. If you are interested in visiting WildPlay, you can check out their website for more information.
This park is very dog-friendly and allows dogs on all the trail areas, provided they are on a leash. It also has a rather large area where dogs are allowed to be off-leash that is divided into enclosures for small dogs/puppies and has a separate area for large dogs.
Maple Ridge Park is an all-around great spot for families, dog-owners, children, and individuals who are looking to spend some time in nature, so be sure to stop by and see it for yourself!