E. C. Manning Provincial Park, Manning Park, BC, Canada
Driving time from Vancouver
Summer drive-in campgrounds
The lay of the land
Just three hours from downtown Vancouver, Manning Park is home to four drive-in campgrounds, nine backcountry camping areas and four lakes with 17 trails for all kinds of hikers. It’s also a rewarding destination for mountain bikers. With the accessible Lightning Lake (the biggest of the four lakes) so close to camp, riders, campers and hikers will enjoy cooling down with a leisurely dip during the hot summer months.
Pitch your tent
Lightning Lake campground is the most popular campground with 143 sites. It’s a hot spot for swimming and hiking since most of the trails shoot off directly from here. This busy campground is between the Okanagan and Lower Mainland, so it’s a great stop for road-trippers who want to break up the journey. Be sure to book your site well in advance for summer dates (the campground is fully reservable). Need camp or water gear? Check into rentals for tents, canoes, SUPs and more.
Hit the trails
The Lightning Loop Trail is an easy hike with limited elevation gain. It follows the shoreline of the first of four lakes in the Lightning Lake Chain and can be accessed from the day-use areas located at Lightning Lake or Spruce Bay Beach.
Alternatively, the Lightning Lakes Chain Trail is the entire route for those who want to take on a lengthier hike. It goes along the shores of all four lakes: Lightning, Flash, Strike and Thunder. Make sure to bring all your backcountry essentials with you, along with a trail map so you can choose the correct route from the fork in the trail. Take a right to continue on toward the other lakes. Left will lead you to a small foot bridge. If you’re visiting during the month of June, look over the edge – you may see rainbow trout spawning.
More than meets the eye
Manning Park is more than just a place to pitch your tent. The park has a rich cultural heritage as well as wildlife and ecological features to watch for. Depending on the season, you’ll be treated to beds of alpine flowers and snow-capped mountains, and all year-round you’ll find pictographs and historical trails.
Keep in mind that Manning Park is officially a Protected Area (Leave No Trace is a must here). Considerable conservation efforts are underway to protect the 63 species of mammals and 206 bird species found within the park.