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Larches Hike at Frosty Mountain, Manning Provincial Park

Larches Hike at Frosty Mountain, Manning Provincial Park

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Frosty Mountain in EC Manning Provincial Park is a great hike with stunning mountain views. One of the best times to do Frosty Mountain is when the larch trees are turning golden yellow. However, it’s also extremely busy at this time too. Thought busy in the summer too, it’ll be slightly less so compared to peak golden larch weekends!

Whatever time of year you plan to do the Frosty Mountain trail, you’re sure to enjoy the amazing views on one of the best hikes near Vancouver.

Mt Frosty, EC Manning Provincial Park

EC Manning Park is home to Manning Park resort and many different hiking and snowshoeing trails including Windy Joe which I snowshoed a few years prior to visiting Mt Frosty.

Manning Park is also the terminus (or beginning) of the well-known Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) which runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington. You’ll see a few signs as you hike around Manning Park and, depending on the time of year you visit, you may even see some hikers coming to the end of their PCT adventure of just starting out.

How to get to Frosty Mountain

EC Manning Provincial Park is along hwy 3, about an hour outside of Hope, BC. From Vancouver, it takes around 2.5 hours driving on Hwy 1 through Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Hope. Allow longer for weekends due to traffic or when it’s raining/snowing.

What are golden larches?

Larch trees or alpine larches are super unique trees and their uniqueness is one of the reasons why people go crazy around late September/early October.

You may have heard of people getting ‘larch fever’ (not a real fever!) or going on a ‘larch march’ and this is the term given to going on a hike with the aim of seeing the larch trees as they turn golden.

Yes, these larch trees aren’t evergreen even though they’re coniferous!

Despite the fact that the larches live and grow up at high elevations in snowy and rocky conditions, they’re hardy and they can live for over 1,000 years!

The Frosty Mountain larches are some of the closest golden larch trees to Vancouver in the fall, with most other alpine larch trees being found in Eastern BC, or in the Rockies. Such as at Floe Lake which I hiked early one October and saw a few of the trees turning color.

Best time to see the Manning Park larches on Frosty Mountain?

The larch trees usually turn golden from late September to early October (with Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend being a prime time to do this hike). However, it depends on the weather leading up to this time.

Sometimes you’ll get a good few weeks of snow-free hiking and golden larches, other times it’ll be more blink and you miss it!

Always make sure to check the trail conditions before heading up to Frosty. It’s not an easy hike and the conditions can make it treacherous despite the fact that it’s busy.

Be prepared and always hike with your 10 essentials.

Trail Guide: Mt Frosty Hike

Here’s everything you need to know about hiking Frosty Mountain!

Frosty Mountain hike stats

These trail stats are for an out-and-back hike. You can make this longer by looping up with Windy Joe and returning that way.

  • Distance: 22km
  • Duration: 6-9 hours OR overnight by caping roughly half way at Frosty Creek campground.
  • Elevation: 1160m
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Trailhead: Lightning Lake, Manning Park Parking Lot

Mt Frosty Trail Route

lightning lake frosty mountain larches
Lightning Lake, Manning Provincial Park

Park up at the Lightning Lake parking lot in Manning Park and head across. the bridge to begin the trail. The bridge is towards the entrance point to the parking lot.

Once over the other side of the bridge, look for a sign pointing you to the right into the forest.

This trail takes you uphill in a series of long switchbacks for around 5km. It’s never super steep (i.e. North Shore steep) at any point but may test some people.

A couple of kilometers in, there’s a small trail off to your right which you can follow to get a view of Lightning Lake from above and some of the surrounding mountains too.

frosty mountain larches
Lightning Lake view

As you come to the end of the switchbacks, the trail flattens out a little and takes you through the forest before arriving at Frosty Creek campground around 6.5-7km into the hike.

This campground is very basic and close to the trail (I can’t imagine it’s the quietest place to camp on a busy weekend!). There are very obvious camp spots, an outhouse, a bear cache area, and a shelter too. Depending on the time of year you visit there may be a small creek for water, but don’t rely on that being here in the summer.

After the campsite, you’ll soon come out into the open and get your first glimpse of the golden larch trees if you’re hiking in the fall!

Around 1.5km past the campsite, the trail flattens out more and you’ve arrived at the plateau (or the larch plateau). Here there’s a sign with information about the larch trees and what makes them special and, of course, lots of larch trees!

frosty mountain larches
frosty mountain trail golden larches
frosty mountain manning park
Borrowing friend’s dog

If you’ve only come to see the larches, you can turn around here (after some photos!). If you plan to summit Frosty Mountain, then continue as the trail begins to climb once again.

Passing the larches, the trail gets much steeper and rockier. The rocks can be a bit slippery and on a busy weekend, it can be difficult with the mass of people going up and down on a narrow, rocky trail.

The path is pretty easy to follow in terms of seeing where it goes as it’s well-worn. Take your time if you’re nervous about slipping – poles would be useful here to help with balance.

Soon, the trail comes to what looks like a dead-end but there’s a sign marking the junction to the summit, or down to the Pacific Crest Trail. To summit Mt Frosty, make a right and walk along the ridgeline. There’s one final climb before you top out Frosty Mountain, 2408m, marked by a sign.

Enjoy the views of both BC and the USA (just 1 km away!), and follow the route you took up here to return to the car.

frosty mountain larches
From the summit of Frosty Mountain
summit mt frosty manning park

For Windy Joe to Frosty Mountain, see this map – you’ll just need to add a little extra to it.

What to know before hiking Frosty Mountain

Here are some things you should know before ding the Frosty Mountain hike.

  • Mt Frosty is. apopular trail especially if you’re planning to see the Mt Frosty larch trees. Start early (e.g. before 8am) and try and avoid weekends if possible for a more enjoyable hike.
  • Always take your 10 essentials and bear spray when hiking!
  • While there are sometimes some streams to provide water, this isn’t guaranteed, take plenty with you.
  • Pack layers always, it’s often windy at the summit
  • If hiking in spring or fall, take microspikes (I use Yaktracks) as there’s often some snow and/or ice at the higher elevations.
  • Dogs are allowed on a leash
  • Manning Park trail conditions are posted here.
  • See this Manning Park map for other trails and activities.

Manning Park, BC Camping

There is one campground, Frosty Creek campground, along the trail to Mount Frosty about halfway. There are no reservations that guarantee you a camping spot, but you must get a backcountry pass.

These cost $5 and are available at discovercamping.ca. Make sure you select backcountry reservation when getting your pass.

Alternatively, you can camp at the campgrounds at the beginning of the Frosty Mountain hike within E.C Manning Park. These include Lightning Lake campground, Coldspring, Mule Deer, and Hampton campgrounds.

Lightning Lake campground is 100% reservable, Coldspring and Mule Deer are approximately 50% reservable and 50% first-come, first-served sites. Hampton campground is 80% reservable and 20% first-come, first-served.

What to pack to hike Mt Frosty, Manning Park

If you’re backpacking, check out my packing list for multi-day hikes. For day hikes, check my day hike packing checklist.