Three Falls Trail – Manning Park
The Three Falls Trail is a fun, easy to follow hike near the Lightning Lake Campground in E.C. Manning Provincial Park. On this walk you will get to see beautiful forest, bunches of wildflowers, along with three fantastic waterfalls. Plus the area is full of wildlife. We met a bear, saw a snowshoe hare and heard pikas all along this short walk. If you come in the summertime, you can feast on wild strawberries along the way. It was the perfect way to start a long weekend of hiking.
Manning Park is chock-a-block full of truly epic trails. However if you are just passing through, or arrive a little late to camp, you may only have a few hours to spare. On those occasions when you don’t have time (or the energy) for a massive hike, you can go chasing waterfalls instead.
Three Falls Trail Map
Three Falls Trail – the basics
Distance: 9.3 km
Elevation Gain: 290m
Time: 2-2.5 hours
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials. We didn’t need hiking poles for this one.
There is a loo at the trailhead
Yes, but keep them on a lead as there are bears and pikas in the area.
How hard is it?
Easy to intermediate. The trail is easy to follow and wide enough that you don’t have to walk in single file. There is a bit of elevation gain, but I think most people could manage it.
If you have extra time, then you could walk the whole way from the Lightning Lake Campground. However, the closest trailhead (with oodles of parking space) is at Strawberry Flats, along Gibson Pass Road. The start of this walk must be strawberry heaven in the summertime, we saw sooo many strawberry plants right next to the path. We were too early when we did this hike in July, so please eat some on my behalf.
Be Bear Aware
Within the first ten minutes of our walk we saw a bear super close to the path. He was pulling up thistles to munch on their roots, and was not interested in us at all. Still, we walked past carefully, and were sure to make plenty of noise and keep our bear spray handy. If you would like to know more about hiking in bear country, take a look at my friend Susan’s fab post about bear safety tips for hikers.
Three Falls Trail terrain
Most of this hike takes you through forest, with occasional (strawberry-filled) alpine meadows so it would be a great hike for both rainy and super-sunny days. The trail opens out a little each time you reach a waterfall, but it mostly you’ll be wandering along an easy to follow path with a shallow gradient.
In a couple of places you’ll find large areas of rock falls. If you look carefully in those areas, you might see or hear a pika!
These are incredibly cute fuffy little dudes with round bodies, that look like rabbits, just with no tail and short, round ears. They like to shout at you, so before you see one, you will probably hear some high-pitched “meep” sounds.
The first waterfall along the trail is Shadow Falls. There is a great viewpoint looking down to the valley, where you can sort of see the waterfall through the trees. At the official viewpoint, you can hear the waterfall much better than you can see it!
However, if you look for a mini unmarked trail that goes off from the viewpoint, there is a fantastic view much closer to Shadow Falls. Isn’t it amazingly splashy!?
The second waterfall along this trail, Nepopekum Falls, is pretty far away. There is a sign post that points you to a hole in the trees where you can look out for this beauty.
After that, keep following the trail to see the best of the three, Derek Falls. This waterfall drops down over 20 meters. We visited in early summer so it looked fantastic, but I have heard that it slows into more of a trickle later in the summertime.
The area around the waterfall is very steep and you can really see where rockfalls and avalanches have shaped the trees and shrubs on the opposite mountainside. I don’t think this would be a safe trail in the wintertime, due to the danger of avalanches.
Once you have finished looking at the views, head back on the same route. On our return journey we didn’t get to see the bear again, but there was a line of pulled up (and lightly chewed) roots to show where he had been!
Instead, we did met this handsome snowshoe hare. This fella is brown (with white socks) in the summertime, but in winter he’ll turn white. He wasn’t too worried about us, so we got quite close before he hopped off.
Camping at Lightning Lake
We Camped at the Lightning Lake Campground in E.C. Manning park, so Marc had great fun making fire, right after our hike was over. If you can, do try to nab a campsite here as it is just such a great place to go camping. Each lot is spacious, with a bench and a fire pit. Plus there are plenty of trees, so it feels very private. Lastly, it’s just a short walk to the lake, so if it is hot, you can cool down with a quick swim before bed.
A mini hike, camping and marshmallows. It was a great way to start a long weekend!
I hope you like the look of the Three Falls trail in Manning Park. We did a few more hikes in this area recently, so I have plenty more to share. You’ll be able to find more hikes on the interactive map on my Oh Canada page.
Please click on the pins below to save this adventure for later.
46 thoughts on “Three Falls Trail – Manning Park”
I’ve only done this in the winter, sidehilling on steep crusty snow (which wasn’t the most fun) and have wondered about doing it again in summer. Seems like a perfect cloudy day hike! We also saw a snowshoe hare on the trail near Strawberry Flats earlier this year on our way to Snow Camp – they seem to like that area. Cool bear sighting too!
It was a little close for comfort (I took that photo with my phone, rather than a long lens) so he was only about 10-15m away… Still, it wasn’t too scary as he was just so nonchalant (and there were other hikers passing him at the same time.)
p.s. were the waterfalls amazing and icy in winter!?
Thankfully most black bears are not too interested in people – we saw one on the Palmer’s Pond trail a few weeks back and it took off as soon as we said “Hey bear!”.
I had to go check our photos as I couldn’t remember but yes, especially Nepopekum Falls. Makes we wish I had a better camera at the time. Or we could just go back in winter too…!
These waterfalls look amazing and your photos are incredible! I’ve never been to Canada or the US so it seems so strange to me that you can just stumble across a bear while you’re out hiking! I love the photo of the snowshoe hare too 🙂
I hope I can visit here sometime.
Yeah it was one of the things I was most worried about when we first moved here. I am still nervous about meeting Grizzlies, but black bears are pretty fun to see from afar!
i hope you make it here too! I can help you find fab walks when you do. 😀
Awww that little pika is so cute!!! And also, where is my marshmallow? Lol
They are sooo good on campfires aren’t they! Have you managed to get outside camping this summer? If not, I am sending you a virtual giant, perfectly cooked, gooey, marshmallow.
Haha the tenants upstairs installed a fire pit so I’ve had a few roasted marshmallows and s’mores! YUM
happy with the pica, but the bear… nope, I’m with Bill Bryson: ‘bears rarely attack but, and here’s the salient point, once is enough’
Exactly! That is why we always try to make plenty of noise. They don’t want to see humans…this one was just too lazy to move on, but I am always super wary around them.
Good timing on this info! Thanks.I’d like to do an early September trip to Manning. I’ve driven past this park so many times but haven’t stopped to explore. Sounds like Lightening Lake campsite makes a great base.
Oooh yay! I have a couple of other walks to write up…but I bet they’ll be lovely in September when there are fewer bugs!
Lightning Lake was a great place to stay. There are two loops. We have stayed in both. The big loop has posher loos with running hot water (which is great for washing up and the possibility of showers) but the small loop was a bit quieter. I really loved both options.
There are other campgrounds, but they looked like they were closer to the highway.
OMG the smile on that pika’s face!! I can’t!!! Adorable!
They are the cutest little fellas aren’t they! We saw one in Yoho last week and I managed to get a photo while it was shouting at us. It made me sooo happy!
Wow, you saw so much wildlife on this hike. I always love going out west and hearing the pika’s call. There are such busy little guys. Waterfalls are lovely, too.
It was sooo cool to see that much wildlife (possibly because it was Friday night, so there were fewer hikers around!?)
I’m glad I am not the only pika lover! Do you “meep” back at them?
Wow…so beautiful! Would love to do some waterfall chasing in Canada! I really liked the format you used regarding the trails (I’m hiking at all 66 of Minnesota’s state parks and planning to create a day hiker’s guide based on my experiences so may borrow some of the format…thanks for the inspiration!…oh, and I love AllTrails!). I was at a park last week where there were black bear warnings so will check out your friend’s post regarding the safety tips.
Oh yay! Let me know when you’ve written about your hikes- I’d love to read them. It’s also super easy to add AllTrails maps to posts. Let me know if you need help when you start yours. 🙂
p.s. if you often write about the outdoors/adventures, you should come and join our Blogging group, Maiden Voyagers. The ladies are super supportive. Susan (who wrote the post about bears) was the one who started it all.
I’ve never been to Canada so seeing a bear on a hike is absolutely crazy! Your photos look absolutely amazing and if this was local to me I’d hike it a lot! Thanks for sharing, saved for when I hopefully get to visit Canada!!
Another great little adventure. Three Falls looks brilliant and those views are awesome as usual. And to finish with a campfire and camping just makes it all even better. Great post.
I think I didn’t do enough camping growing up…Canada is making me really love it, as it is so normal here. 😀
Wow what an adventure! I know it must be daunting to spot a bear so close to you, but it must also be pretty amazing. I’ve never seen a bear before. Also, I loved your description of the pika – little dudes who likes to shout at you haha! Great post.
Hehehe to be fair, the pikas are not quite as loud as the local squirels (they swear at you rather than shout!) I love seeing them all!
Bear! That’s one we’ve never seen in the wild (I don’t count at Yellowstone because we had to go searching for those!) 😛
I am always sooo excited by seeing black bears. I am far less keen on seeing grizzlies, unless they are super far away! I would have expected there to be plenty of bears near you!!
These trails looks amazing. What do you think of the MSR tent?
I really like it so far BUT it does seem to leak a bit in heavy rain, so I guess it might not be the best option for rainy Vancouver!! 😀
I love Manning Park! It is such a beautiful place, and all your photos are so stunning!! I especially love all the waterfalls! I will definitely have to check out this trail next time I am going through Manning Park. It’s always so fun to roast marshmallows over a campfire too!
It s a gorgeous area isn’t it! We really love it when we get to hike in the back country, but I have to admit, I also love car camping just because then we get to cook over the campfire and munch on toasted marshmallows…
Oh my goodness! The pika!! Then the bear and rabbit, plus all the gorgeous scenery?! I’d be in heaven. Reading your posts made me want to hike in Canada soo badly. Unfortunately that won’t be happening for some time (yay for being in the US?) but I’ll definitely be using this guide and your others when I do.
Hopefully you can come eventually, the wild life will be here waiting for you. Pikas are so flipping cute aren’t they!?
This looks so pretty! It is really wise to include the tip about the bear spray and noise. Before living in Canada, I thought bear spray was a joke but I quickly learnt that it is a real thing. I have seen bears twice when hiking so know that they are definitely out and about!!
Your camping set up looks so fun!
Yeah, to be honest, talking to the bears and letting them know where you are is more important that the bear spray, but it is good to have it as a back up. We have seen more than 20 bears in the wild now, but we have never had to use it.
I LOVE WATERFALLS! Seems like my kind of hike!
They are sooo good as something to hike towards aren’t they!?
What a spectacular trail! I love hiking and waterfalls, so this looks like heaven to me. I’d love to do it! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Yay! I am glad you like the look of it Teresa!!
Luckiy that you got to see a bear, although I would have wanted there to be more space between me and the bear. We’ve seen one from our car. The hike sounds great, have to go here the next time we’re in Canada.
Yeah, that bear was a bit closer than I felt comfortable with! It always feels safer to see them when you’re in your car!
Ahhh I think I would love this SOOO much! The nature looks so lush and absolutely stunning. And don’t get me started on the pika.
Thanks Cass. Come and join my pika fan club. 😀
How amazing are the landscapes here! The hike must be incredible! Also I would be SO scared to see a bear in the wild not far from me!
This one wasn’t too scary as he was just so not interested in us! But yeah, he was a bit close for comfort!
Wow! So truly beautiful – and incredible to see bears! I’ve only spotted a black bear once in my life, I was visiting Canada and it was an amazing experience.
I’d never seen a bear before we moved here, so I am always excited when we catch a glimpse of one! I hope you can come back to Canada to see more of their gorgeous trails Anna. 🙂