BC Interior Snowshoeing Vancouver Area

The Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Manning Park: 10 Places to Go Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing at Manning Park

Manning Park is probably the best place to snowshoe in south west BC. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but let me prove it to you: Easy drive from Greater Vancouver on a plowed and sanded highway. Usually low avalanche risk.  Better weather and fluffier snow than the coast.  No stupidly steep climbs. Gorgeous mountain views. And TONS of trails ranging from super flat beginner routes to all-day epics in the backcountry that climb mountains. Plus you can rent snowshoes there too. I mean, what else do  you need? In this guide I’ll give you all the details you need to choose the right trail for snowshoeing in Manning Park, plus tips to keep you safe on the trail.

 

But First… Be Prepared

Make a Trip Plan

Snowshoeing in BC is no joke. While these trails may be steps from a busy highway, they access serious wilderness. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Check out the great trip planning tools over at Adventure Smart. Keep in mind that snowshoeing is tougher than hiking and it will take you longer to snowshoe a trail than to hike it. Plan to start early so you don’t get caught out in the dark.

Check the Weather, Trail Conditions and Avalanche Forecast

Snow conditions and the weather can play a big factor in the success of your snowshoeing trip. Be sure to check trail conditions online before you go. If you are snowshoeing in Manning Park, you should also check the avalanche forecast for the South Coast Inland zone. Unless you have taken an avalanche safety course, you probably shouldn’t go out unless the forecast is rated “Low” or “Moderate”.

Wear Winter Clothing and Pack the Essentials

Make sure you wear proper winter clothing and footwear. Check out my post about what to wear snowshoeing to get you started. I’ve also got a post with tips for winter hiking and snowshoeing that will give you a good overview of what safety gear to pack and how to stay warm. I always pack a headlamp or flashlight on every snowshoe trip in case I get stuck coming back in the dark.

Use Safe Snowshoeing Techniques

Snowshoes give your feet more surface area to spread out your weight so you don’t sink into the snow. They also have crampons and other traction aids underfoot to help grip icy snow. But snowshoes are not the best gear for walking sideways or downhill. The platform part of the snowshoe gets in the way and the crampons under the snow can’t bite into the snow properly. When it’s icy, snowshoers are prone to slipping and injuring themselves in these types of scenarios.  Michael Coyle, a Search and Rescue Manager, has a great article explaining snowshoe slip and fall accidents called “How to Kill Yourself Snowshoeing“. It’s a great read for any snowshoer, both beginners and experienced.

If you encounter a steep slope (one that looks steep enough to ski on or slide a toboggan down) and it’s very icy, it’s probably not a good idea to tackle it in snowshoes. Consider taking off your snowshoes on these kinds of slopes when descending or sidehilling. I pack a pair of microspikes (mini crampons) to wear on steep and icy slopes. If you don’t have crampons, you can also kick steps into the slope with your boots. I also bring poles that I can use for balance and to help anchor me to the slope. For more info on safe snowshoe travel in steep terrain, read Michael Coyle’s other excellent article “How NOT to Kill Yourself Snowshoeing“.

Take an Avalanche Safety Course

Unless you plan to only snowshoe on super easy beginner trails that are totally flat, you should take an Avalanche Safety Course. The courses aren’t that expensive (usually $200-$300) for a 2.5 day course and could save your life. They teach you how to look at terrain and “read” it for potential hazards. After I took my Avalanche Skills Training 1 course (AST1) it totally changed the way I look at the mountains. If you aren’t ready to take the plunge and sign up for a field course, there’s a great FREE online beginner tutorial on Avalanche.ca.

 

Where to Rent Snowshoes in Manning Park

If you’re looking for advice on how to choose snowshoes, check out this great article from MEC. I like to wear MSR snowshoes which are better for steep and icy trails. If you want to save some money, rent your snowshoes in town before you arrive in Manning Park. Sunny weekends and holidays can be really busy for rentals, so try to reserve a pair ahead of time if possible. (Note that prices below are current as of January 2018.)

You can rent snowshoes in Surrey at Skyview Outdoors for only $10 a day. They have MSR Evo snowshoes, which are great for steep and icy backcountry terrain.

In Langley head to MEC where you can rent basic snowshoes for $15/day or fancier ones for $18.

Mount Waddington’s Outdoors in Chilliwack has snowshoe rentals for $19 day.

If you didn’t pick up snowshoes before getting to the park, don’t worry: Manning Park Resort rents snowshoes. The rental price includes a pass to the resort trails and is $24/day. There are also cheaper rental options if you only want to go snowshoeing for a few hours.

 

Where to Go Snowshoeing in Manning Park

Quick Reference Guide

Trail Rating Time Needed Cost Dogs
Skagit River Trail Easy 3-4 hours FREE Yes, on leash
Cambie Creek Loop Easy 1.5-2 hours FREE Yes, on leash
Fat Dog Trail Challenging 6-8 hours FREE Yes, on leash
Manning Park Lodge Trails Super Easy 1-1.5 hours $6.50 Yes, on leash
Steamboat Trails Easy/Moderate 2-3 hours $6.50 Yes, on leash
Canyon Nature Trail Easy 1-1.5 hours FREE Yes, on leash
Windy Joe Mountain Challenging 5-7 hours FREE Yes, on leash
Lightning Lakes Loop Moderate 3-4 hours FREE Yes, on leash
Poland Lake Moderate/ Challenging 4-7 hours FREE/$10 No
Shadow Lake/Three Falls Easy/Moderate 2-4 hours $6.50 Yes, on leash

 

Snowshoeing on the Skagit River Trail at Sumallo Grove

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The Trail: The Skagit River trail runs 15km down the banks of the… you guessed it: Skagit River. In winter Delacey camp at the 4km mark makes a good place to turn around. Along the way you’ll pass through the large old growth trees of Sumallo Grove. Be sure to take the side trail around the 2km mark to visit an old abandoned mining truck. Since the access road is gated in the winter you’ll add an extra 0.5km each way to walk in to the summer parking lot. Note that this trail is at a much lower elevation than the rest of the snowshoeing trails in Manning Park (only 650m) so it will not receive as much snow and may be snow-free in warmer weather.

Distance: Up to 9km return.

Elevation Gain: None

Time Needed: 3-4 hours

Rating: Easy

Trail Markings and Navigation: The trail is not marked for winter use but it is wide and easy to follow.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: Watch for open creeks and narrow snow-covered bridges along the trail. There is no immediate avalanche danger on the trail, but there are some substantial avalanche slopes up the hill from the trail. If the avalanche forecast is above moderate, it may not be smart to be down in this valley.

Trail Map/Guide: You can find info on the Manning Provincial Park website.

Permits/Fees: None.

Dogs: Permitted on leash.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 30 minutes to the Sumallo Grove picnic area turn off on your right. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: The gate to the parking lot is locked in the winter so you’ll have to park on the shoulder of the highway and walk in. There is space for a few cars outside the gate.

 

Snowshoeing Cambie Creek Loop

Snowshoeing past the Similkameen River on the Cambie Creek Loop in Manning Park. Read about how to snowshoe here in the Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Manning Park near Vancouver, BC, Canada

Photo Credit: “Similkameen River” by Dru! on Flickr. Used under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Trail: There are two interconnected cross country ski loop trails along the banks of the of the Similkameen River, collectively known as the Cambie Creek Loop. The trails are relatively flat and make a great snowshoe trip for beginners. The trails are un-groomed, but be prepared to share the trail with cross country skiers – don’t walk in their ski tracks.

Distance: 2.5-5km

Elevation Gain: Up to 100m

Time Needed: 1.-5-2 hours

Rating: Easy

Trail Markings and Navigation: This trail is on old roads so it is easy to follow. There are signs at the trail intersections and the trail is marked for winter use.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: For many years one of the bridges on this trail was washed out and you couldn’t complete the loop. However, it was replaced in 2016 so that is no longer a problem. The trail is down in the valley bottom and there are a few very steep slopes immediately uphill of the trail. Use caution and check the avalanche forecast before you go.

Trail Map/Guide: Surprisingly there is very little information online about this trail. There is a good map posted at trailhead.

Permits/Fees: None.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 45 minutes to the Cambie Creek Winter Group Campsite turn off on your left. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: There is a large plowed parking area.

 

Hey! Do you want every single snowshoe trail on this list in one easy to navigate google map? Well guess what? I made a custom map for you! Sign up and I’ll email you the secret link.

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Snowshoeing the Fat Dog Trail

Trailhead for the Fat Dog Snowshoe Trail in Manning Park. Read about how to snowshoe here in the Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Manning Park near Vancouver, BC, Canada

Cambie Creek trailhead. Photo credit: “2012-02-04 Scout winter camp Manning Park” by Chris Hutchcroft on Flickr. Used under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Trail: This trail climbs up high into the alpine and on a clear day you can get some great views. Despite all the elevation gain, the trail is on an old road so it never gets too steep. The trail is also popular with backcountry skiers so be sure to walk outside their ski tracks.

Distance: 15km

Elevation Gain: 700m

Time Needed: 6-8 hours

Rating: Challenging

Trail Markings and Navigation: This trail is on old roads so it is easy to follow. There are signs at the trail intersections but otherwise it is unmarked. The Fat Dog Trail doesn’t have a definite end point – it peters out in the high alpine meadows so turn around when ever you’ve had enough of the views.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: The first few kilometres of the trail are down in the valley bottom and there are a few very steep slopes immediately uphill of the trail. Use caution and check the avalanche forecast before you go. The remainder of the trail is in much more mellow terrain. Be careful of cornices along the ridge at the top.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s a map and information on Live Trails.

Permits/Fees: None.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 45 minutes to the Cambie Creek Winter Group Campsite turn off on your left. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: There is a large plowed parking area.

 

Lodge Area Snowshoe Trails

Snowshoeing on the Lodge Trails in Manning Park. Read about how to snowshoe here in the Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Manning Park near Vancouver, BC, Canada

Lodge Trails. Photo Credit: “Snowshoeing at Manning Park” by Rebecca Bollwitt on Flickr. Used under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Trail: Manning Park Resort maintains a small network of snowshoe trails right next to their cabins. If you stay there you can snowshoe right out your front door. The trails are flat and well marked.  Various loops are possible and there’s even a small lookout.

Distance: Up to 3.5km return

Elevation Gain: Up to 50m

Time Needed: 1-1.5 hours

Rating: Super easy

Trail Markings and Navigation: The trail is marked and super easy to follow.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: None.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s info on Manning Park Resort’s website and they will also give you a map when you buy your trail pass.

Permits/Fees: You need a Manning Park Resort Snowshoe Trail pass for these trails. A day pass costs $6.50 and you can buy one at the Nordic Centre near the Lodge.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 50 minutes to the Manning Park Lodge turn off on your right. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: There is a large plowed parking area at the Lodge.

 

Steamboat Snowshoe Trails

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The Trail: If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous than the easy Lodge trails, but you aren’t ready for full-on winter navigation, check out the Steamboat Trails. These three well-marked interconnected trails run along the north side of the Gibson Pass road. Some sections are totally flat but there are some hilly parts too. You can pick up the trail in a few places from along Gibson Pass Road, or do it as an out and back from one end or the other.

Distance: Up to 6km return

Elevation Gain: Up to 75m

Time Needed: 2-3 hours

Rating: Easy/Moderate

Trail Markings and Navigation: Manning Park Resort marks the trails so it is super easy to follow.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: None.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s info on Manning Park Resort’s website and they will also give you a map when you buy your trail pass.

Permits/Fees: You need a Manning Park Resort Snowshoe Trail pass for these trails. A day pass costs $6.50 and you can buy one at the Nordic Centre near the Lodge.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 50 minutes to the Manning Park Lodge turn off on your right. Head in to the Nordic Centre to get your pass, then head a couple minutes down Gibson Pass Road. Immediately after crossing a bridge you’ll see the trailhead on your right. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: There is a small plowed pull out on the side of the road.

 

Snowshoeing the Canyon Nature Trail

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The Trail: This short nature trail follows the banks of the Similkameen River as it winds through a mini-canyon. You’ll walk up one side of the river to a bridge near the Coldspring Campground, cross it and come back down the other side of the river.

Distance: 2km loop.

Elevation Gain: 50m

Time Needed: 1-1.5 hours.

Rating: Easy

Trail Markings and Navigation: This trail doesn’t have winter markings so it could be difficult to follow if no one has walked there recently. However, the trail stays down in the canyon so it shouldn’t be too hard to stay on track.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: In some areas the trail gets close to the river bank. Use caution.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s trail information and a map on the Manning Provincial Park website.

Permits/Fees: None. While this trail starts next to Manning Park Resort’s Steamboat Trails, which do require a paid trail pass, this trail is strictly within BC Park’s jurisdiction and is free to use.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 50 minutes to the Manning Park Lodge turn off on your right. Turn down Gibson Road and follow it for a couple minutes. Immediately after crossing a bridge you’ll see the trailhead on your right. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: There is a small plowed pull out on the side of the road.

 

Snowshoeing to Windy Joe Mountain

The Trail: This trail climbs Windy Joe Mountain on an old road. Thankfully the grade is never too steep. At the top you can explore an old fire lookout tower, last used in the 1960s. Be sure to climb up into the loft where a sign helps you identify all the peaks you are looking at.

Distance: 16km round trip

Elevation Gain: 500m

Time Needed: 5-7 hours

Rating: Challenging

Trail Markings and Navigation: The trail doesn’t have winter markings, but it follows an old road so it is very easy to stay on trail.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: The trail traverses mostly mild terrain, but there it does cross a steep slope on the first switchback so use caution in this area and check the avalanche forecast before you go.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s a good trail guide on the Manning Provincial Park website. There’s a map as well.

Permits/Fees: None.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 50 minutes to the Manning Park Lodge turn off on your right. Turn down Gibson Road and follow it for a couple minutes. Immediately after crossing a bridge you’ll see the trailhead on your left. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: There is a small plowed pull out on the side of the road.

 

Snowshoeing the Lightning Lakes Loop

Snowshoeing to the Rainbow Bridge on the Lightning Lake Loop in Manning Park. Read about how to snowshoe here in the Ultimate Guide to Snowshoeing in Manning Park near Vancouver, BC, Canada

Snowshoeing towards Rainbow Bridge on Lightning Lake. Photo Credit: “Rainbow Bridge” by Erin on Flickr. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The Trail: In the summer the Lightning Lakes trail is THE hike in Manning Park. So of course in winter this is THE place to go snowshoeing in Manning Park. The loop around Lightning Lake is a wonderful mellow trail, and if you want to make it even flatter, you can walk on the lake itself. The highlight is visiting the Rainbow Bridge when it’s all covered in snow.

Distance: 9km

Elevation Gain: 50m

Time Needed: 3-4 hours

Rating: Moderate.

Trail Markings and Navigation: The trail is not marked for winter travel, but it doesn’t stray far from the lake edge so it should be fairly easy to follow.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: There is no major avalanche danger on the trail. If the lake is sufficiently frozen you can take a shortcut on the ice across the mouth of Lone Duck Bay. Be careful and don’t try this late or early in the season. If you can’t take the shortcut across the ice, you’ll have to go around the long way on the Lone Duck Trail. The Lone Duck trail is technically a cross country ski trail in the winter. Stay well to the side of the trail and don’t walk in the ski tracks.

Trail Map/Guide: You can find trail info and a map on the Manning Provincial Park website.

Permits/Fees: None.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 50 minutes to the Manning Park Lodge turn off on your right. Turn down Gibson Road and follow it for 5 minutes. Take the signed turn off to the left for the Lightning Lakes Day Use Area. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: There is a large plowed parking lot at the end of the road.

 

Snowshoeing to Poland Lake

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The Trail: Poland Lake is one of the less visited areas in Manning Park in both summer and winter, despite the fact that it’s only a short drive from the lodge. The trail starts with a big climb up the side of the Horseshoe ski run to the top of the ridge. It then follows an undulating ridge all the way to pretty little Poland Lake. In the winter you can make the trip a bit shorter and waaaaay easier for just $10: you can buy a one ride lift ticket and skip the climb up the hill. This will save you a few kilometers of hiking and over 300m of elevation gain.

Distance: 12-16km return

Elevation Gain: 100-450m 

Time Needed: 4-7 hours

Rating: Moderate/Challenging

Trail Markings and Navigation: The trail is not marked for winter travel but it mostly follows an old road so it should be relatively easy to follow. The part where you exit the ski resort can be a bit confusing so bring a map.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: The trail has no avalanche danger. Whether you choose to take the lift or hike up the ski run, you will encounter skiers and snowboarders at some point. Stay well to the left side of the run and always watch to see who is coming down.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s a guide to the summer trail and a map on the Manning Provincial Park website. You can find info on the winter route on the Manning Park Resort website. You may also want to bring a map of the ski area.

Permits/Fees: If you skip the lift it’s free. Or you can buy a one ride lift ticket for $10.

Dogs: Dogs are not allowed on the lift or in the ski area.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 50 minutes to the Manning Park Lodge turn off on your right. Turn down Gibson Road and follow it for 15 minutes to its end at the ski area. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: There is a large plowed parking lot at the end of the road.

 

Snowshoeing to Shadow Lake and the Three Falls Trail

The Trail: This easy trail leads along an old fire road to Shadow Lake. From there you can take a trail over to the downhill ski area. If you are feeling more adventurous you can extend your trip past Shadow Lake on to the Three Falls Trail. This trail leads to (surprise) three waterfalls. The trail starts at the Strawberry Flats Cross Country Ski trailhead so watch for skiers at the beginning of the trail and don’t walk on the ski tracks.

Distance: Up to 9km return

Elevation Gain: Up to 100m

Time Needed: 2-4 hours

Rating: Easy/Moderate

Trail Markings and Navigation: The first section of the trail to Shadow Lake is well marked. Beyond there the trail to the waterfalls is not marked for winter travel. There may be a snowshoe track to follow, but bring a map and compass just in case.

Avalanche Danger and Hazards: Past Shadow Lake the trail goes into a deep valley with steep slopes on both sides. Use caution here and check the avalanche forecast before you go.

Trail Map/Guide: There’s a trail guide for the summer route and a map on the Manning Provincial Park website.  There’s also some trail information on the Manning Park Resort website.

Permits/Fees: You need a Manning Park Resort Snowshoe Trail pass for these trails. A day pass costs $6.50 and you can buy one at the Nordic Centre near the Lodge.

Dogs: Allowed on leash.

Driving Directions: From Hope drive 50 minutes to the Manning Park Lodge turn off on your right. Turn down Gibson Road and follow it for 15 minutes. Look for the Strawberry Flats Cross Country ski area trailhead on your left. If you go all the way to the ski area at the end of the road, you’ve gone too far. Click here for driving directions. You must have winter tires or chains to drive on highway 3 east of Hope.

Parking: There is a large plowed pull out on the side of the road.

I made a map of all of these trails (plus snowshoe rental locations). And I want to give it to you! Sign up and I’ll email you the secret link.

Sign up to get access to my super-secret resource library!



 

How many of these Manning Park trails have you snowshoed? Have questions about snowshoeing in Manning Park? Hit me up in the comments.

 

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Snowshoeing in Manning Park near Vancouver, BC, Canada. Get info for 10 different snowshoeing trails including safety tips, avalanche info, driving directions and rental shops. #snowshoeing #britishcolumbia #manningpark

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    January 26, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    I’ve never been snowshoeing but it looks like fun and work. I’m not a cold weather person, but I imagine you work up a pretty good sweat and stay warm. Lovely photos.

  • Reply
    Josy A
    January 26, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    Yay! You have such helpful snowshoeing tips! We don’t have a car yet, so I didn’t get to explore Manning Park. I can’t waaait to try some of these trails though. I might just have to hire a car to visit!

  • Reply
    Valerie
    January 27, 2018 at 8:26 am

    I love your blog!! I am Canadian also , raised in Vancouver area…I think I was here years ago…so beautiful. I think I found a place I need to go explore! Thanks for sharing, beautiful pictures!

    VAlerie

  • Reply
    A speck in time
    January 27, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    I want to try snowshoeing someday soon, and do lots of snow photography. Your post is a great resource for first timers like me. Thank you so much for putting so much details.

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