8 Things to Do at E.C. Manning Provincial Park in the Summer

Lightning Lakes in Manning Park

Lightning Lake in Manning Park. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca

Located east of Vancouver in the Cascade Mountains, E.C. Manning Provincial Park makes a great summer day trip from the city. You can go for a hike, spot some wildlife, swim, enjoy incredible mountain views, and lots more.


How to Get to E.C. Manning Provincial Park

From Vancouver, head east on Highway 1. Take exit 117 to go east on Highway 3. Follow Highway 3 into E.C. Manning Park. There are several parking areas throughout the park, but most are near the Manning Park Resort which has a restaurant and convenience store.


Tips for Visiting

  • Visit the park website and use the park maps to plan your trip.
  • There is no cell service in the park. There are pay phones at the Manning Park Resort.
  • Dogs must be on leash in the park to protect wildlife. They are not allowed in most beach areas.
  • Smoking, vaping, cannabis, drones, alcohol, and collecting plants are not allowed.
  • There are washrooms with flush toilets at the Manning Park Resort. There are pit toilets at most trailheads and picnic areas in the park.
  • Be safe in the park. AdventureSmart recommends bringing a backpack with essential safety and first aid gear on every hike. Check the forecast and pack extra clothing for the weather. Leave a trip plan so someone knows where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Read our tips for safe summer hiking in Vancouver.


Hike the Lightning Lakes Loop

The easy 8.5 km loop around Lightning Lakes is Manning Park’s signature hike. It’s a great trail for a hot day since it has lots of shade and plenty of places to go for a swim. Our Lightning Lakes Loop trail guide has all the info you need.

Hiking along Lightning Lake in Manning Provincial Park

Hiking along Lightning Lake. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca


Hit the Beach

The beach and picnic area at Lightning Lake is a popular spot. There is a huge grassy area and a sandy beach. It’s a mountain lake, so the water isn’t that warm, but it feels refreshing on hot days.

View from the Lightning Lakes day use area in Manning Park

View from the beach at the Lightning Lakes Day Use area. Photo: Taryn Eyton/HappiestOutdoors.ca


Go for a Paddle

Explore the waters of Lightning Lake. Paddling under Rainbow Bridge is a real highlight. The boat house at the day-use area rents canoes, rowboats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. There is also a boat launch if you want to bring your own non-motorized boat.

Canoe on Lightning Lake in Manning Park

Canoeing on Lightning Lake. Photo: Jonhall/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0


Enjoy the View from Blackwall Peak Road

Drive the Blackwall Peak Road to get a taste of Manning Park’s alpine terrain. The road up the mountain is paved at first but turns to gravel part way along. However, it is suitable for all cars. There are great views from the Cascade Lookout on the way up. At the top, hike the easy Paintbrush Trail to enjoy wildflowers and more views.

The view from Cascade Lookout. Photo: Manning Park Resort/Facebook


Learn at a Interpretive Program

Each summer the park hosts several dozen interpretive programs supported by the Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning and the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission. You can learn about plants, animals, and insects on guided walks or evening presentations.

Interpretive program at Manning Provincial Park

Learning at an interpretive program. Photo: Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning/Facebook


Walk Through a Grove of Giant Trees

Some of Manning Park’s largest trees are hiding right next to the highway. The easy Sumallo Grove trail is only 15 minutes long, but it takes you past huge old-growth Western red cedar and Douglas fir trees. Find the trailhead at the western end of the park.

Old-growth trees in Manning Provincial Park

Old-growth trees in Manning Provincial Park. Photo: Holly Booker/Unsplash


Watch for Wildlife

Manning Park is a great place to spot wildlife. But please don’t feed them as it can make them sick! Head to the day-use area at Lightning Lake to see dozens of Columbia ground squirrels darting in and out of their burrows. Or walk the easy Beaver Pond trail in the early morning to spot beavers gnawing on trees. Throughout the park, keep an eye out for deer, bears, moose, chipmunks, and more.

A Columbia ground squirrel stands in the grass at Manning Provincial Park

A Columbia ground squirrel at the Lightning Lake day-use area. Photo: Pete Nuij/Unsplash


Go for a Hike

Manning Park has over 300 kilometres of hiking trails ranging from easy to expert so there is something for everyone. The Heather Trail provides spectacular views and lots of wildflowers. Head to the Three Falls Trail for a shady walk to beautiful waterfalls. Or tackle the challenging hike to the summit of Mount Frosty, the tallest peak in the park. The Manning Park trail guide has info on all the options.

Wildflowers on the Heather Trail in Manning Park

Wildflowers on the Heather Trail in Manning Park. Photo: Taryn Eyton/Happiestoutdoors.ca


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