Lightning Lake Loop Trail
Location: E.C. Manning Provincial Park, BC
Distance: 4 km round trip
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours (snack time and break included!)
Elevation: 30 meters
Additional Hike: If you’d like to do a longer hike there is a 9 km loop option that will take you around the whole lake.
Dog Friendly: Yes
Stroller Friendly: No
Washrooms: In Parking Lot
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Whether you’re looking for a great place to stop on a road trip, or lucky enough to be spending a few days visiting Manning Park, doing the hike around the Lightning Lake Loop is an absolute must for anyone in the area.
This family friendly hike has very little elevation (officially 209 meters but I’d say less than 30 meters for most of the trip) and boasts amazing views of the lake at almost every turn.
We visited in the winter, allowing us to do the snowshoe trek around the lake. The kids loved being able to see hockey players on the ice, animal tracks in the snow, and saying hello to other snowshoers as they passed by.
To get to Lightning Lake take Gibson’s pass road, which is just east of the Manning Park Resort. The starting point for the Lightning Lake Loop is found in the day use area or the Spruce Bay beach, about a 2 kilometer drive off the highway. The long parking lot runs parallel to the lake giving you lots of space to park and prepare for your hike. You can enter the trail heads on either side of the lake. The trail heads are well marked and easy to find.
We were greeted by the local Whiskey Jacks, who really were more interested in learning about whether or not we had food to offer them. For the safety of the animals, their own health and nutrition we are advocates of NOT feeding wild animals, no matter how tempting it may be!
We headed out towards the ice where a group of adults were playing hockey. Does it get anymore Canadian than that? Locals don’t cross the ice though, especially when it’s covered in snow, so it’s recommended that unless you know what you’re doing or are with someone who does, that you stay off the ice! (We only crossed on small spots where others had done earlier that day).
Choose Your Loop
For families we recommend the shorter 4.5 km loop compared to the full 9 kilometer loop. The shorter loop is marked by the halfway point, or the bridge, where you can extend your hike or can loop back and hike back towards the parking lot. The park has great directional signs to ensure you don’t get lost.
Some trail tips:
Single Track Hiking
Most of the trail is single track, and while safe, we were sure to go through trail etiquette and hike single track. This helped them focus on their feet and ensure they didn’t knock themselves into the ditch!
Halfway Point Snack
I had brought a chocolate bar and candy for my kids to have at the halfway point, and we were almost there when I started to hear a bit of whining. Ten minutes later they had a bit of fuel and sugar in their tanks and were good to keep going.
The picturesque Rainbow Bridge was stunning under a blanket of snow. We took in the 360 degree views from the middle as each direction showed off different elements of the park. The local birds were hanging out too and quite disappointed in our lack of indulgence in their lust for chocolate.
Look For Tracks
We found a variety of animal tracks in the snow… from rabbits to deer, to even a fox, the kids loved being nature detectives and trying to determine what local resident had been out playing in the snow.
Follow The Leader
We always take turns who’s leading the crew. This trail is VERY well marked and it’s easy for anyone to lead :). This is also a great way to teach leadership skills, such as waiting for your hikers, checking in with the group, and reading all directional signs… even if you think you know where you’re going.
Winter or summer, the Lightning Lake Loop hike is the perfect mix of length, scenery and adventure, making it ideal for families to explore.
Did you know that the Manning Park Resort is the perfect family getaway destination? There are endless activities year round for everyone to enjoy. Check out our experiences at the resort in both the winter and summer seasons!
Don’t forget to stay safe while out in the wilderness! Here are some Bear and Wildlife Safety Tips to remember while hiking!