E. C. Manning Provincial Park: Driving Tour

photo of E. C. Manning E. C. Manning Provincial Park is bisected by Highway #3, also known as the Hope Princeton Highway. At this point we would like to orient you to the park by taking you on a written driving tour. If you would like further information on any of the areas mentioned just click on the highlighted names.

This tour is going to start at the west portal, located 26 km east of Hope, and end at the east portal, located 84 km east of Hope or 52 km west of Princeton.

The west portal consists of a wooden carved Hoary Marmot (one of E. C. Manning’s many squirrels), picnic tables, pit toilets and the Engineers Loop trail head. Travelling east for 8.5 km, Sumallo Grove parking lot is on your right. From this point you can take a short walk on the Sumallo Grove Interpretive walk, picnic by the Sumallo River or commence a 15 km hike along the Skagit River Trail, located in the Skagit Valley Provincial Park. This portion of the park is located in the eastern part of the Coastal Rain Forest ecological zone. The large trees and undergrowth are well worth stopping to see. A further 0.5 km brings you to Rhododendron Flats Trail on your right. The trail’s principal attraction is the rare and lovely shrub, the red rhododendron, which blooms in great profusion in mid June. At km 12, to your left, is the Cascade Recreation Area parking lot. This parking lot is the commencement point for several historic trails: Dewdney Trail, Whatcom Trail and the Skagit Bluffs Trail. These trails all lead to the Cascade Recreation Area, adjacent to E. C. Manning Park. The Skagit Bluff Trail also connects to the Hope Pass Trail, which in turn connects with the Grainger Creek and Heather Trails. Further along at km 17 the Cayuse Flats parking lot is located on your right. Leave your car here if you wish to hike or horse back ride on the Hope Pass Trail or travel west on the Skagit Bluffs Trail. The highway follows along the Skagit River through an area that is known as “the burn.” “The burn,” was caused by a tourist throwing a lit cigarette into the forest in 1945. The fire destroyed over 2,000 hectares of forest and was subsequently replanted. During the spring, after the snow has melted and the grass turns green, this is a common place to see black bears. Allison Pass is reached at km 33. This is the highest point on the Hope Princeton Highway at an elevation of 1342 m. The pass is home to the local highway maintenance yard and the northern terminus of the Memaloose Trail. Approximately 0.5 km further along is the Cambie Creek winter use area. Cambie Creek is the headwater of the Similkameen River. From this point on as you travel east you will be following the Similkameen River. This river is one of the few rivers that flows west to east. The Similkameen River flows east towards Osoyoos, eventually flowing into the Columbia River in the United States and then into the Pacific Ocean.

For the next 10.7 km we are going to be touring the core area of the park. As this is a very concentrated area there is a large number of stops with exciting things to see and do.

Coldspring Campground is the first campground and is located on the right hand side of the highway 40 km from the west portal. This is also home to a small picnic area overlooking the Similkameen River. A further 1 km brings you to Manning Park Lodge, located on the right. At km 41, or just after you have passed the lodge/restaurant buildings, you will reach the first and only intersection throughout the park. The turn-off to the Cascade Lookout and subalpine meadow is located on the left (look for the overhead signs). This 16 km drive on a windy, steep road is well worth the trip. The views from the Cascade Lookout at 8 km are spectacular and an absolute must for anyone visiting this park. From the parking lot you can hike the Dry Ridge Trail or continue a further 8 km on a gravel road to the subalpine. E. C. Manning Park’s subalpine meadows are one of two such areas in British Columbia that are accessible by vehicle. These meadows are very fragile. The plants in this area are susceptible to winds, rain, extended periods of dry weather, heavy snow fall and a very short growing season. For this reason we ask that you stay on the trails, don’t trample the meadows, keep pets on leash and take away only photos. The Paintbrush Trail, Viewpoint Loop Trail and Heather Trail all start from this area. Further down the Heather Trail is the junction of the Bonnevier Trail. Interpretive programs operate in this area during the summer months.

The road to the right leads you to the Headwaters Corral, the Windy Joe/Pacific Crest/Frosty Mountain/West Similkameen/Canyon Nature Trail parking lot as well as the Rein Orchid Trail, Twenty Minute Lake Trail, Lightning Lake day-use and Lightning Lake Chain Trail, Frosty Mountain Trail (the highest mountain in the park and home to a stand of subalpine larch containing what may be the oldest trees in Canada), Lone Duck Group campsite, Lightning Lake campground, Spruce Bay Beach, amphitheatre, North and South Gibson loop, Strawberry Flats, Three Falls Trail, Skyline I Trail and Skyline II Trail, Poland Lake Trail, groomed cross country ski trails and the downhill ski area.

Continuing east on the highway for another 1 km brings you to the sani-station road. Continuing on the highway a short 0.5 km, on the right hand side, is the Beaver Pond Trail parking lot. This area is home to many varieties of birds, waterfowl and the occasional moose. A further 1.9 km is the trail head for two trails that reach the United States border. Monument 78/Castle Creek Trail to the west and Monument 83 trail to the east. The Cascade Loop Trail is in the United States but connects the Monument 78 and 83 trails. A portion of the Monument 83 trail is part of the Centennial Trail that leads off to Cathedral Provincial Park.

Blowdown picnic area, which overlooks the Similkameen River and Hampton campground, are a further 1.6 and 1.9 km respectively. The most easterly campground is Mule Deer campground, located 14.5 km east of Hampton. This campground is situated between the highway and the river with some sites being on the waters edge. The east portal is reached at 11.8 east of Hampton and this is where we bid you farewell. We hope that you enjoy our park and that you are able to stay for several days. This park has something for everyone and we ask that you leave only footprints behind and take only pictures and good memories away with you.

Please take the time to browse through our web site and learn all you can about this spectacular park.