Manning Provincial Park is gorgeous! Lisa, Shannon and I had spent our first day hiking up Windy Joe Mountain to the fire lookout. So for our second day in the park we decided to find an easier hike. Lightning Lake loop was perfect for this. The hike must be lovely in the summer, especially if you fancy a swim in the lake. In winter (or spring) it is good for snowshoeing, or hiking with microspikes.
We started with an extra mini-hike up to the first viewpoint on the Frosty Mountain trail. Then we hiked along the main Lightning Loop trail.
Lightning Lake loop Map
Lightning Lake loop – the basics
Distance: 8.5km (plus an extra 3km for the viewpoint)
Elevation gain: minimal around the lake (220m to the viewpoint)
Highest Point (viewpoint): 1470m
Time: 2.5 hours. (plus 1.5 hours for the viewpoint)
What to bring:
We used microspikes as the trail was well packed down. Earlier in the winter snowshoes might be better.
The ten essentials (as always)
There are plenty of toilets at the campground.
Dogs are allowed on this trail if you keep them on a leash.
How hard is it?
Super easy. The lighting lake loop would be great for kids
Lightning Lake loop – getting started
We did the Lighting Lake Loop in a clockwise direction. It is an incredibly easy path to follow, just wander around the lake!
We started the walk with a jumping photo! This was actually quite a feat! We used a self-timer and took several photos, none with all of us up at the same time. So…I cheated. I combined two photos, one with Shannon in the air, and the other with Lisa and I in the air.
Frosty Mountain trail Viewpoint
We knew that the trail around the lake would be flat and easy, so we decided to stretch our legs before we got started. If you look on the Manning Park Map from Clark Geomatics, there is a viewpoint around 1.5km up the trail. In early April, the path was completely icy, but it was still easy to follow through the trees.
The viewpoint was a little tree-filled, but gorgeous. It gave me a taste for what it might be like to hike up Frosty Mountain. I think I *need* to come back in the summer for this trail!
Hiking with blogging friends
It is really fun hiking with blogging friends. We were able to chat about everything from possible hikes, good gear, podcasts and even other bloggers that we love (and would love to meet). It’s funny that I have only met Lisa and Shannon (in real life) a couple of times each, but we easily slip into chatting as if we’d known each other for years.
It’s also so nice to meet hikers that walk at a similar(ish) pace to me. I was always the slowest, as I stop for photos. Shannon wrote a fantastic post about how to hike with others – so have a peek if you are interested.
Before we started the actual lightning loop trail, Shannon and I slid down this snowbank! I have a slightly loud, squealing video of it, but I can’t find it. Ah well. You’ll just have to trust me that it was ridiculous and fun.
Frozen Lake shortcuts
Once we made it down to start the main Lightning Lake Loop trail, Lisa went out onto the lake to check how icy it was. It turned out the lake was well frozen with lots of layers of ice. I trust Canadians when they say it’s safe to walk on a lake. So, instead of walking on the actual trail, we wandered along the edge of the lake.
It was great! We got to spend some time out in the sun, and standing on the lake meant we had better views of the surrounding mountains.
Leave no trace – Seriously, it’s not hard!
Unfortunately out on the lake we found some cans and bottles from idiots who’d been drinking out on the ice, and then just dumped their litter on the lake (grr.) We collected it, so had to carry their rubbish for the rest of our hike. It always blows my mind that some people think that kind of shitty behaviour is okay!
Lightning Lake is made up of two lakes, connected by a stream, where rainbow bridge links the paths between the the two. I was a little sad that the rainbow bridge was actually brown. It would look amazing if it was bright like a rainbow.
If you are tired when you get to this bridge, you can head back, and skip half of the trail.
As you can probably guess, doing this walk with three hiking bloggers meant we didn’t want to turn back at this half way point! We kept going hoping for good views of Frosty Mountain.
Trail through the trees
At the opposite end of the lake we had to fight our way up a snowbank to get back onto the official trail! My leg went straight down into a snow post-hole, so my camera ended up in the snow, a little soggy and cold.
The path through the tall trees was really lovely, but my photos were a little blurry after my camera’s ice bath. Oops.
Lightning Lakes Chain Trail
We stopped on the Creek Bridge at the far end of the lake for some snacks and to admire the views. If we had more time/energy, there is a longer Lightning Lakes Chain Trail, that continues from here to a bunch of other lakes. The whole thing is about 20km.
Wait, did I mention snacks!? If you ever stop for a snack while hiking in Canada, it’s quite likely that after about 30 seconds, you’ll be greeted by a Whiskey Jack. This was our companion for the morning who was reeeeally hoping we’d drop some crumbs.
This was the view from the far-end of the trail. Not only was it pretty, we had not met a single other hiker, so we had all this nature to ourselves.
We decided to follow the official trail on our return, rather than hiking back on the lake. The forests were bathed in dappled light. This is my favourite kind of view.
Still we did get some views out from the trees. The mist had started to descend, but we had a few peeks at Frosty Mountain.
We made it back to rainbow bridge before the rain and snow started to threaten us.
Safety in Spring
If you ever hike in snow in the spring, you’ll know that in the afternoon, conditions always seem a little more dodgy. The snow and ice starts to warm up, so you are more likely to fall into post-holes and the edges of lakes will start to melt at the edges. The stream between the two halves of lightning lake were half melted, so we kept away from the lake on that section.
Walking on thin ice?
The last part of the Lightning Lake Loop goes off on a mini wiggly detour. We considered walking over the lake again as a short cut. Lisa was pretty sure it was safe, but Shannon was less keen. In the end we decided to play it safe and follow the path around the edge of the lake. I think this was probably the right decision as although the middle of the lake was well frozen, the edges seemed a bit melty.
Plus, this meant we got to spend a little longer on the trail!
Anyway, in no time at all we made it back to the car for more snacks!
The Lightning Lake Loop trail was perfect for a Sunday, when you know you need to drive back to Vancouver. Lisa, was our super-star driver for the weekend, so thaaaank you Lisa for introducing me to Manning Provincial Park! I hope you all like the look of it too.
- You can read Shannon’s description of our adventure to Manning Park.
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