Friday, August 05, 2016

Backpacking With Young Kids {Golden Ears Provincial Park}

Gary and I love backpacking. Since having kids we haven't been able to go often and have been eagerly awaiting until the kids were old enough so that we could all go together. When would they be old enough? I wasn't sure! I never imagined taking a four-year-old but after seeing what she could do hiking wise recently, I knew that if we found a relatively easy trail, she could probably do it. After asking around, we decided to try out a 4.5 km hike to Hiker's Beach at Golden Ears Provincial Park.

There are several routes to get to Hiker's Beach.  On the way there we took Lower Falls Trail to the Connector Trail Loop to the bridge and then hiked on the west side of the Gold Creek. On the way back, we took the East Canyon Trail the whole way. The East Canyon Trail makes for a shorter and easier trip but it was fun to experience so many different trails overall.

We gave the kids very little to carry but enough to lighten our own loads. Nya (4) had nothing, Koen (7) had a sleeping bag, Crocs, and a jacket, and Kai (10) had a sleeping bag, thermarest, water, and coat. I had four thermarests, two sleeping bags, water, camera, first aid supplies, and all of our clothes. Gary had two tents, one sleeping bag, one thermarest, stove, and food.

The walk to Lower Falls is very easy and we have done that portion before. The falls are at about the 2.5 km mark. Now the connector trail is a bit tricky–you climb towards to the top of the falls and then veer right before the end of the fence. There are yellow markers to follow along this trail and it takes a good 20 minutes to get to the East Canyon Trail. This was the most difficult portion of the hike.

There are a series of geocaches to find with the Game of Throne theme and we found five of them while hiking–this is always a highlight for Gary and the kids. I'm just going to add that I found three of them.

Koen and Nya do best holding hands while hiking. Koen tends to get distracted and Nya just loves feeling connected.

When you get to the bridge, you can choose to go over to the west side or stay on the East Connector Trail. We chose to cross over. In hindsight, I'm not sure we'd do that again as this requires that half an hour later you cross the river in bare feet. This was not ideal with having to get our kids out of their hiking shoes and carry their packs across icy water.

When you get to this sign, you do need to cross the creek but then it is just another five minutes until you get to the campsite!

As we emerged from the forest, this is what we saw! Nice or what? This side of the beach is called Hiker's Beach and the other side is Viewpoint Beach. We actually ended up crossing (again) to stay on the Viewpoint side. Crossing this river is much easier!

We were the only people there for the night. We ran into three women who hiked in for the day who said that they had seen a bear. This news was not ideal as I was already worried being that we were the only campers there. If backpacking, be wise and tie all of your food up in a tree (about 5-10 feet away from the trunk and 15 feet in the air). Also, stay close to your kids–I was really playing it safe and making sure that they were close to either Gary or myself the entire time we were hiking. I have a bear bell on my backpack but Koen chatted enough the entire time to ensure we were making enough noise.

We set up camp with our two tents as we don't have a five-man backpacking one. I shared with Koen and Gary was with the other two.

We love our hammock from Costco!  

Look at that beach that we had all to ourselves!  It was overcast which was great temperature wise. Also, there was adequate wind so there weren't many bugs at all. 

We had a bocce ball tournament which Koen won!  

The kids spent hours throwing rocks into the water trying to hit bug and logs.

I was so surprised that Nya was fine with everything–she did the hike no problem. Four-year-olds rock.

We weren't allowed any fires but made pasta and brownies on the stove.

We went for another walk (I know, I'm so mean!) towards Half Moon Beach where we found yet another geocache!  Cool one, right? There are very few signs with distances so we weren't sure how far that beach was and stopped after 1 km. 

There is an outhouse on the Viewpoint Beach side but it is in pretty terrible condition–I just like to know these things. We had hot chocolate and went to bed around 9 PM. The kids fell asleep at 10 PM and I lay awake until almost 1 AM mostly because I was afraid. Of bears.

Everyone was up by 6 AM and the kids some more hot chocolate and I had my coffee. Love these cups that are part of our MEC pot set!

We were all packed up and ready to head out by 7:30 AM as we had to get back home. It was so nice to see the reflection of Golden Ears as it had cleared up!  Beautiful B.C. or what?!

For the hike back we stayed on the East Canyon Trail and it was 4.5 km long and took us under 2 hours.

Nya is so sweet and took Koen's hand to encourage him.

The East Canyon Trail close to the Gold Creek Parking lot is absolutely gorgeous! If you are looking for a gorgeous photo location, I'd recommend it.

I'm so proud of my kids for doing this hike with minimal complaints. Nya was most upset that she couldn't wear a dress while hiking (normally I would let her but I wasn't sure about the conditions) and other than that, they were pretty good! Now I wouldn't say that they loved it but they definitely liked it.  

I really hope that a overnight backpacking trip can become an annual tradition!  Don't be afraid to try things just because your kids are young. On that note, there is no way I would have done it with a child under the age of four.  Don't forget that you do need a Backcountry Permit for camping at places like this–you can register online and the total cost was $20 for our family.

Finally, this is the only wildlife we saw.  Phew. So cute.

What do you think? Do you enjoy backpacking? Would you take your kids? Or, what is something you enjoy that you can't wait to share with your own kids?


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Backpacking with kids at Golden Ears, BC


  1. I think your kids are to be commended for doing this much hiking with minimal complaining. No, I would not like to backpack (I only tolerated sleeping in a tent a few times when I was younger) and if they wanted to, the children would have had to go with their dad - I would have stayed home and had a break! I am lazy and selfish like that! For years, when the children were growing up, we went to a church camp on a lake with cabins and eating meals in a dining room that was all prepared for me. That was ideal for us and we have great memories of those weeks.

    1. I let them know numerous times how proud of them I was! They have a lot of energy so I wasn't surprised that the boys could do it. Ha, no backpacking or tenting for you--got it! On our one week road trip we are doing we are leaving the tent behind and splurging on cabins and hotels :) Those memories sound lovely, Gary and I have often considered a family camp type of thing.

  2. I LOVE this post, you & Gary look so very happy on this little adventure with your kids. It's so great that your little ones are willing to try all the things you guys think up!

    1. Thanks, Maria! I'm glad too! Today we went to MEC and Kai was begging for a real pack (the one he used was my old one) so I think he really likes it!

  3. I would LOVE to do this with my kids. I grew up backpacking in the Rockies (mostly around Jasper). My parents took my brothers and I on our first overnight trip when we were 7 and 5. We went into Kinney Lake on Mount Robson (about 7 km) and each carried our own packs with some basic gear (sleeping bags, mess kits, and snacks and water bottle). I keep trying to figure out how to do it with our kids... maybe in a couple years when Pearl starts walking. I think Jade (3 this year) could do the trail you mentioned, if she wasn't carrying anything. She's a trooper, usually, and we've done several day hikes. It's carrying the baby plus gear that has stopped me so far. :) Thanks for the tips and ideas!

    1. I love Jasper!!! We are going to Mount Robson in a few weeks (but just day hike there, not overnight!). You're just a few years away :)

  4. Wow - looks like you had so much fun! Beautiful scenery, too. I would be SO SCARED of bears! On our last camping trip there were signs of a black bear in the area, and then when I woke up in the middle of the night at 3am I swear I heard one right outside our tent trailer (I heard super heavy bear-like breathing)...but the rangers said no one else had seen one so I don't know if I was imagining it/dreaming or if it was real. Glad you didn't encounter one!

    1. It was very fun! I'm not usually so afraid but because we had little kids along, I sure was. We actually went out today about bought bear spray for our next adventure (whenever that is!) Scary about your camping experience, I'd totally send Gary out to investigate!

  5. Great post! We made it a challenge to prove all those people wrong - the ones who give up what they love because they have children. As parents of teens now, I can tell you, this time flies by and what you make normal now will become the great memories your kids have of childhood, and teach them to challenge themselves. Here's to Living The Life Less Ordinary!

  6. This is SO GREAT!!!! I love that you did this, and it was very interesting to read of the supplies distribution :) WELL done to your kids, and you and Gary!
    Our kids want to do an overnighter like this...we should just do it :)

    1. Do it! Do it! Bring bear spray ;) We just bought some.

  7. Your blog is full of entertainment and helpful information that can allure to anyone anytime. Continue posting!

  8. Really loved your hiking backpack story with your kids. Spending quality time with your family can be quite exciting. It was a great adventure and fun time to your family.

  9. My boyfriend and I backcountry camp a lot. One of our last adventures was a 36km trip with 2 of my children and 2 of their friends. It was incredible! We also just stayed at Greendrop Lake for 3 days, not a hike with backpacks that I would recommend for younger children. Lots of technical parts on that hike. I want to do a trip with one of my other son's (I have 8 children - 5 boys) and was thinking of Hiker's Beach but was having trouble finding information on it, and thankfully stumbled across your post. I appreciate all the information and will now start planning our next adventure. Yes, always carry bear spray lol, but the amount we backcountry and hike we have yet to see a bear, but always come prepared. Happy hiking and way to go kiddo's!!!

    1. We have yet to see a bear on our overnight hikes too (although did see one on a day hike at Minnekhada, a great day hike!). I've only done Lindeman and not all the way to Greendrop though I've heard it's lovely! Thank you for your feedback!