I think if you embrace winter by still getting outdoors then it makes the short days and grey skies a lot more bearable. I’m a skier and so have always loved getting up into the mountains bust since moving to Vancouver I’ve enjoyed a different way of experiencing snowy landscapes: snowshoeing.
I’ve done a couple of snowshoe trips so far this winter with hopefully a few more to come! More recently I embarked on my longest snowshoe trip yet with a friend to snowshoe Windy Joe Mountain in EC Manning Park, BC.
There are lots of snow shoeing trails in Manning Park and Manning Park Resort but this has to be one of the snowshoeing and winter hiking trails in Manning Park with the best mountain views!
About EC Manning Park and Manning Park Resort
Manning Park and the Manning Park Resort are located along Highway 3 in British Columbia, Canada. This road just so happens to be one of my favourite BC roads too thanks to its scenic views!
This area is home to both a resort and a provincial park. The resort is made up of accommodation, a downhill ski area and a Nordic ski area with snowshoeing and cross country ski trails.
There’s also a larger area known as E.C Manning Park which is run by BC Parks.
Manning Park is also where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) starts or (more commonly) ends. If you’re visiting Manning Park in August or September, you may see some PCT hikers finishing up their epic hike in Manning Park.
In the winter Manning park makes a great place for snowshoeing near Vancouver.
Where is Manning Park?
Manning Park is about 2.5-3 hour’s drive away from Vancouver in the south coastal region of British Columbia, Canada. It’s in the Cascade Mountains and is home to great snow.
About the Windy Joe Mountain Firelookout
This is one of the Manning Park hikes that is great both in winter and summer. At the summit, you’ll come out at the refurbished lookout. It hasn’t been used since 1965 and is now open to the public.
It’s not meant to be used as a backcountry hut for overnight trips and there’s no insulation or stove but it’s a great spot for a lunchtime picnic!
Trail Report of Windy Joe Mountain Snowshoe Hike
We snowshoed to Windy Joe in Manning Park in late January and the weather was beautiful. Having driven through a pretty gloomy looking Chilliwack and Hope it was a bit of a surprise to see blue skies when we parked up at Manning Park Resort.
We hired snowshoes for the day and then drove out to the trailhead which is a couple of kilometres from Manning Park Resort.
The Windy Joe Mountain trail begins by following the Similkameen Trail along the Similkameen River and you’ll being by snowshoeing through a fairly flat, forested area that acts as a nice warm-up for the climb that comes later. There are a few sections here where you’ll cross over some streams and climb up and down a little. Don’t worry though, there’s nothing too challenging on this Manning Park hike.
Around 2km in, you’ll come off the Similkameen Trail and join the Windy Joe trail. This is where you’ll being the gradual, but fairly long trail.
Since this is a popular snowshoeing trail in Manning Park, it’s unlikely that you’ll be the one having to break through fresh snow. When we snowshoed the snow was pretty well packed which makes it a lot less tiring! However, I’d still recommend snowshoes over crampons as there were some areas where it was a bit softer and the snowshoes stopped us from sinking too far.
About 3.5km in you’ll cross a stream and then, after second stream crossing (there’s a trail you won’t need to walk through water/ice), you get the fist view of Windy Joe Mountain which is the highest peak in Manning Park.
At 5.5km there’s a fork in the trail. Bear left here to stay on the WIndy Joe trail as the righthand fork takes you to Frosty Mountain along the PCT.
After this point, the trail turns into a series of switchbacks as you wind your way to the summit of Windy Joe Mountain and the Manning Park fire lookout.
When we hiked this section there were quite a few fallen trees that we needed to duck under or go around. We did pass a couple of guys with a chainsaw (and feared for our death!) who were skiing up and clearing trees so the way back down was much easier.
At the top of Windy Joe, you’ll get great views towards the south over to Frosty Mountain and across the US/Canada border. You can also see towards the north into BC too. The fire lookout is one of the main attractions of this snowshoe trail. It was open when we visited and the upstairs area had the sun streaming in making it super warm. The original instrument used for recording the location of fires is still there. There are useful plaques around the fire lookout too so you can identify the mountains you’re looking at.
To return, you simply retrace your steps.
Windy Joe Mountain and Windy Joe Firelookout trail stats
Where to stay near Manning Park
There aren’t loads of places to stay near Manning Park but there are a couple of options for Manning Park hotels. Here’s my pick of the closest three Manning Park accommodation options.
- Manning Park Resort: This is the closest place to stay since it’s inside Manning Park. Manning Park Resort has suites, cottages, villas and there are also Manning Park chalets. If you’re visiting Sunday – Thursday they also have some pretty sweet deals on accommodation such as $99 per person for 1 night’s accommodation & 2 days of lift tickets.
- Sunshine Valley RV Resort: Over in the Sunshine Valley there’s the Sunshine Valley RV Resort. This is a great option if you’re camping in an RV or camper or are looking for Manning Park cabin rentals. They have 1 and 2 bedroom chalets that are just 30 minute’s drive from Manning Park.
- Sandman Inn Princeton: If you’re travelling to Manning Park, BC from the east then you might choose to stay in the Sandman Inn in Princeton. This doesn’t get quite as high reviews as the other two options, but it’s still pretty good and is just under an hour away from Manning Park resort.
Camping in Manning Park
If you’re looking to camp in Manning Park in the summer (perhaps you’re not planning on snowshoeing to Windy Joe) then you’re in luck. There are 5 campsites near to Manning Park Resort as well as some others a little further out in the backcountry of EC Manning Park. However, only two of these are open in the winter for winter camping in Manning Park.
All campsites must be booked through DiscoverCamping.ca and it’s recommended you book in advance especially in the summer and over long weekends.
Winter camping in Manning Park
The two campsites open in winter are listed below and they cost $13 per person, per night:
- The Lightning Lake Day-Use area which is suitable for campers and RVs
- Lone Duck campground for tent camping and fires are also permitted
Summer campsites in Manning Park
In the summer the other Manning Park campgrounds are listed below.
Vehicle Accessible camping sites in Manning Park :
- Coldspring Campground ($23 per party per night)
- Hampton Campground ($23 per party per night)
- Mule Deer Camground Manning Park ($25 per party per night)
- Lightning Lake Campground ($35 per party per night)
Walk-in/Wilderness Camping (all $5 per person per night):
- Buckhorn Campsite
- Frosty Mountain Campsite
- Grainger Creek campground
- Kicking Horse wilderness campsite
- Monument 78
- Mowich walk-in campsite
- Nicomen Lake campground
- Pacific Crest wilderness campsite
- Poland Lake
- Strike Lake campground
What to pack for snowshoeing in Manning Park
Before you go snowshoeing it’s important to make sure you’re prepared. The following items should be on you or in your pack.
- Snowshoes (see below for where to rent these)
- Winter boots (ideally Goretex since your shoes are going to get wet. Link to the ones I currently use)
- Nice woollen socks (helps keep your feet warm and dry)
- Lots of layers
- Outer layer: Thom treated me to an Arc’teryx jacket for my birthday and currently I can say I think theyare worth the money. But any waterproof outer layer will do
- Thermals/base layer: I like to wear my Mountain Warehouse thermals some good alternatives can be found here.
- Insulated jacket
- Gloves or mittens (I have these ones)
- Camera (check out my shop for the camera gear I have)
- Water (at least 2L)
- 10 essentials
Where to rent snowshoes near Manning Park
Wondering where to rent snowshoes for your snowshoe trip to Windy Joe Mountain in Manning Park? Here are a few places you might pass along the way.
- Manning Park: You can rent snowshoes from the Manning Park Resort Nordic Centre. Manning Park rentals cost $25 and include a trail pass for the Manning Park trails withing the Resort area
- Mount Waddington’s Outdoors, Chilliwack: $19 for the first day, slightly less for multiple days
- MEC, Vancouver & North Vancouver: $15 a day but you need to book in advance as they’re often booked up
What to know before snowshoeing in Manning Park
- Manning Park Resort Nordic Centre is open from 8:30 am – 4.30 pm. However, you can return snowshoes to the front desk in the Manning Park lodge area
- Check avalanche conditions on Avalanche.ca before going. You shouldn’t snowshoe this unless the avalanche rating is below 2-Moderate
- Always check the trail conditions and the Manning Park weather before you go snowshoeing. Recent conditions can be found here for the resort area and here for the rest of Manning Park
- Take a Manning Park trail map! The Windy Joe Mountain trail is well marked and you can also get a map on AllTrails which I love using for hiking. Manning Park Map: You can see a basic map here
- It’s a good idea to check the road Manning Park road conditions before your trip. DriveBc.ca is the best place for this.
- Dogs are allowed in EC Manning Provincial Park but must be on a leash at all times
- ALWAYS practice Leave No Trace values
- Take your 10 essentials