I am so excited to share this one! The Three Brothers Mountain (reached by hiking along the Heather Trail) is one of the most popular hikes in Manning Park. The trail itself is not particularly difficult so it is a great challenge for newbie hikers; Or for when you don’t quite have your hard-core summer legs ready. You drive up to 1950m, so you can expect epic alpine views right from the start of the walk. Then British Columbia keeps showing off with displays of wildflowers and views that just get better and better.
This hike is truly spectacular. If you are ever in the area, I cannot recommend it enough.
Three Brothers Mountain – the Basics
Cumulative Elevation gain: 850m
Elevation change: 480
Highest Point: 2272m
Time: It took us 6.5 hours, with some breaks
What to bring:
Hiking poles were pretty helpful.
Loads of water
The 10 Essentials
There is a loo at the trailhead
Dogs will love it, but they need to stay on their leashes.
How hard is it?
Intermediate. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but the trail never gets too steep.
Three Brothers Trail Map
Three Brothers Mountain – Getting Started
If you saw my previous post about the Dry Ridge Trail in Manning Park you might remember that you can drive right up the mountain next to the Manning Park resort. It’s worth stopping at the first viewpoint for the view above. Then, once have had your fill of the first mountains, keep going to the Blackwall parking lot. There are two areas where you can park – we chose the lower parking lot so we’d get to see the views hiking along Blackwall Peak.
You want to follow the Heather trail towards Three Brothers Mountain. However, before you go, there are two mini walks; the paintbrush nature trail and the viewpoint loop. We looked at both to see the alpine flowers and views before setting off.
Downhill to Buckhorn Campground
The start of this trail is almost all downhill. This can be slightly worrying on long walks because it means you have to finish by going uphill for a while. Still you can enjoy a super easy start.
One of the best things about the Heather Trail is all the flowers. We did this walk in early July so the meadows were covered in glacier lilies (avalanche lilies) and anemones. A few weeks later, I think these slopes will be full of blue alpine lupines and red indian paintbrushes.
I have never seen so many glacier lilies before. They were gorgeous.
This was also the first time I had seen anemones. The Western Anemones (in the left photo) are the flowers that turn into teeny pom poms later in the summertime.
After the Buckhorn campground, you’ll start walking uphill. Pretty soon, you’ll emerge from the forest, so each time you look backwards you get to see beautiful views.
There were still a few patches of snow, but we didn’t need to put on micro spikes.
On the way, you walk along the ridge of Big Buck Mountain. You can walk up to the edge and see the views. You may need to do a jump shot at that point. (I did!)
This is the view looking from the ridge and off to the North East.
The trail continues up from the viewpoint over a larger patch of snow. The snow patches help to keep you cool on hot days as the breeze flows over the snow.
You need to turn off the Heather Trail to start the main ascent of Three Brothers Mountain and the First Brother Peak. We could see some pretty large cornices on one side of the mountain. So if you do this hike earlier in the year, be reeeally careful at the edge of the slope.
It’s hard to see in my photos, but the side of the mountain was covered in flowers.
Three Brothers Mountain Top
You can’t really get lost. Just keep following the narrow path along the top of the mountain. Stay away from the edge as there are steep drops on both sides.
As you get closer to the First Brother Peak (at the end of the trail) there are a couple of sections where you need to scramble up using your hands.
Marc stopped for a while to take photos, so I made it to the peak first. He always know what I want, so he snapped this far-off jump photo of me at the top!
Weather in Manning Park
We were incredibly lucky with the weather. It was a truly beautiful day. Even then, it was pretty cold and very windy at the peak. Make sure you bring appropriate clothes to keep you warm. The weather can change incredibly quickly in alpine areas.
I should also mention that although this was my third visit to Manning Park, this was the first time I had ever seen the views. Be aware that this area is often cloudy, rainy and nothing like my photos!
If you are new to hiking, then 20+km will feel like a very long walk. Still, if you get a clear day, it will totally be worth it. I mean, just look at these views.
We found a great sheltered spot just beyond the First Brother Mountain, where we could eat lunch and look out at the views. This is a busy trail at the weekend, but we hiked up on a Friday, so there were very few people around.
Return from Three Brothers Mountain
You head home the way you came. Be extra careful as you hike along the colourful ridgeline. Some of the rocks are a bit loose, so you need to watch your step.
Take a last look over to the other peaks. They all look really tempting as a future hikes to me!
We found the hike back was pretty easy. You’ll be heading downhill all the way until the Buckhorn Campsite. As the gradient of the path never gets very steep, it is an easy, pleasant hike. Plus, in this direction, you don’t have to keep turning around to see those epic mountain views to the South.
I was pretty tired by the time we needed to hike up the last section to the car. However as the path is not too steep, it was actually less hard than I expected.
I am going to finish with a few panoramas to give you more of an idea about the expensiveness of these views.
I hope you are as excited by this hike as we were. We both had sooo much fun! If you can visit the area I hope that you get similarly gorgeous weather and you have as much fun as we did!
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