Snow Fun In E. C. Manning Park: 2-Day Spring Getaway

If you love snow and winter activities, there are plenty of options around Vancouver. Only two hours north of Vancouver lies Whistler, one of the largest ski resorts in North America, and some might say, one of the best too. Right on Vancouver’s doorstep, you have three excellent choices for snow fun: Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain.

mountains on lightning Lake EC Manning Park

But, if you venture a little further, you’ll find a hidden gem, which might steal your heart: E.C. Manning Park. It is a short, three-hour drive east of Vancouver. The park, which is located in the middle of the Cascade Mountains, has a lot to offer in both summer and winter. However, what made me fall in love with this area was one thing: the solitude.

Manning ski resort mountains

Compared to other resorts around BC, Manning Park doesn’t attract as many visitors. You can hike around the many trails and not glimpse a soul or take a ride on the ski lift without having to queue. Forget the madness on the Vancouver mountains or the never-ending buzz in Whistler… If you want to enjoy the winter and spring in a quiet setting – located not too far from Vancouver – E.C. Manning Park is the place to be.

Lightning Lake Manning Park

Since the park doesn’t get overloaded with visitors, the main – and only resort in the park – is small, yet cosy. Over the years, the resort has made improvements to the facilities, including five, new premium cabins.

Manning Park Lodge
Manning Park Lodge

You won’t find fancy luxury here, instead the place feels rustic, with a hint of nostalgia. I won’t lie: the rooms could benefit from an upgrade. However, they were clean, maintained and adequate enough for a good night’s sleep. Besides, it was the outdoors where we spent most of our time.

We left Vancouver early on a mild Sunday morning. As we approached E.C. Manning, the temperature dropped drastically. As we pulled into the parking lot, the temperature stat on our dashboard said -15.

lying on lightning lake Manning Park

But, as we headed out to Lightning Lake, we were prepared for the cold, with several clothing layers – including fleece base layers.

As the lake was completely frozen, we hiked the whole length of the lake. Since Lightning Lake is very accessible and one of the more well-known places to hike, we weren’t the only people at the lake.

Lightning Lake bridge Manning Park
hiking lightning lake EC Manning Park

However, as we walked further on the lake, the voices died down and we found ourselves alone. The crackling of the snow underfoot drowned out all noises, so we stopped occasionally to listen to the birds chirping away around us.

sitting on lightning lake EC Manning Park Canada

As we reached the end of the lake, a group of Gray Jays landed on the snow-covered branches above us, curiously watching us. I love these small birds; in winter, they look like cute, little puffed up soft toys!

After a filling lunch at the Pinewoods Dining Room, we took a cross-country ski lesson at the resort. We both had never been on skis before, so it was all new and exciting to us.

Nordic skiing EC Manning Park

After our lesson, we ventured on one of the beginner trails. And, with over 60 km of cross-country trails, E.C. Manning is a true Nordic paradise… It took some practice to get the stride going but, in the end, we were having fun and were able to enjoy our surroundings.

Dinner was back at the Pinewoods Dining Room. They offer an extensive menu of hearty, local dishes so it wasn’t difficult to find something we liked. Located underneath the restaurant, we found the Bear Den’s Pub. Unfortunately, after all the day’s hiking and cross-country skiing, we were too exhausted to have a pint of beer. So we crashed into our bed, falling instantly asleep.

dinner at Pinewoods Restaurant

The next morning, temperatures were noticeably warmer. We decided this was a good time to check out the ski slope. With our snowshoes in tow, we purchased a ride on the iconic orange chairlift. This is the last year you can ride the lift, as, after the season has ended, they will build a new quad lift.

Manning Park Ski Resort

The ride was calm and stunning and the higher we went, the more we could admire the dramatic peaks, which surrounded us. At the top, the wind was brutal, as it stirred the powdery snow, creating ethereal patterns on the ground.

Manning Park ski

We attached our snowshoes to our boots and off we went into the forest. Luckily, the fir trees sheltered us from the wind, which made the hike so much more enjoyable.

We ventured onto the backcountry trail to Poland Lake. However, for these type of hikes, you do need some kind of winter safety and avalanche training, which we didn’t have. It is important to know what to do in certain situations, especially when you’re far away from civilisation and no one would hear you call for help. So, after a lookout point, we turned back to the chairlift. The wind was even more brutal this time around and we were glad to be back down the hill.

backcountry snowshoeing EC Manning Park Canada

After a warm lunch and drink at the ski lodge, we continued our snowshoeing on the Three Falls Trail. However, because this trail is also a backcountry trail, so we didn’t hike too far. I was probably being overly cautious, as the avalanche risk at the time was low – but you never know what could happen.

backcountry snowshoeing manning park Canada

We also had no way of contacting anyone if anything went wrong… It’s best to be wary in these scenarios. Next winter season, I might take an Avalanche Skills Training (AST) course so I can venture out on backcountry trails without feeling too anxious!

hiking ski hill

The route was beautiful, with packs of snow resting on the tall fir trees. I wish we could have hiked for longer – but I’m sure we will be back one day.

After packing away our snowshoes, we decided it was time to head back to Vancouver. There was still so much to see and do, so many more hikes, more Nordic skiing trails, even a chance to relax in the resort’s pool or sauna – but we’ll be back again next year. We loved the quiet surroundings, the groomed Nordic and snowshoe trails and the stunning views of the Cascade Mountains.

Manning ski resort views

This is a truly unique place in BC, which most people haven’t properly discovered yet… So, next time you’re planning your winter holiday, make sure to check out E.C. Manning Park – you won’t regret it!

Planning a trip to E.C. Manning Park

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spring getaway Manning Park
two days Cascade Mountains
snow fun Manning Park

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Lies

Lies

Hi! I'm a Belgian travel blogger currently living in Vancouver, Canada after living in the UK for 7 years. I have a keen interest in responsible travel, volunteering and archaeology and I'm always on the lookout for new adventures around the world!

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