In the middle of Manning Park is the Manning Park Resort, which is a great starting point for a range of activities. During the wintertime, Manning Park Resort offers some of the best cross-country skiing near the lower mainland. As the summer approaches there is a great summer campsite for RV'ers and campers with all the luxury trimmings you want the last day of a week of hiking. As well it is a good starting point for what is considered one of the best outdoor trips around: The Heather Trail/3 Brothers trail. The Heather Trail is located in Manning Park, named after Ernest C. Manning, who was the Chief Forester of British Columbia from 1935 to 1940. The park has 66,500 hectares of the best hiking Mother Nature can offer. Come in mid July, and find that the flowers are blooming all around you to the point you don't know were to put your feet. It literally looks like a wall-to-wall carpet of differently coloured flowers. Another difference is that you are actually starting to hike at the 2,000 meter level, and the elevation gain is a lot less than most other hikes which may take you to this altitude and alpine scenery.
The Manning Park Resort also has a little convenience store, a cafeteria, a restaurant and a great pub.
How to get to the Manning Park Resort/ Trail Head to the Heather Trail
Manning Park Resort is in the middle of the Hope Princeton Highway approximately 45 minutes drive from Hope. Coming from Princeton you will find Manning Park Resort approximately 15-20 minutes after passing the East Gate community. Once at Manning Park Resort make a right turn coming from Hope, and proceed up to the Microwave Tower. Just a minute before you reach the top of the Microwave Tower is the trailhead that I recommend using to enter the Heather trail; it's on the left side of the road. The other option is to continue to the top, but this leaves a bit more elevation to gain on your return.
The Heather Trail
Distance above (44 km) is return.
Once on the trail you will loose 400 feet in about one hour before you reach the Buckhorn Campground after 5 km. The trail to Buckhorn Campground is more like a double track highway, but this will disappear from your mind as soon as you start to see the views on your left side (west). Leaving the Buckhorn Campground, you start on the only real elevation gain on your way to either the First Brother or Nicomen Lake. During the next 2 km you will gain about 1,000 feet, but once there you will find the sweat is a small price to pay for what will meet your eyes. Rolling meadows of an endless amount of blooming flowers for miles on end. Now the trail is close to flat with some minor elevation changes (+/-500 feet over 10 km). At 10 km, and after around 2.5 to 3 hours of hiking, you get to the intersection of the trail going to the First Brother. At this point you have to make a decision. Going up to the First Brother and back can be done in a day, no problem. If you plan to stay overnight at the Kicking Horse Campground, going up the 1 km to the peak of the 7,452 feet First Brother is a super option. If you only have 2 days, and want to go to Nicomen Lake you should envision how it would be on the top rather than finding out first hand. The hike from Kicking Horse to Nicomen Lake is a good 4 hours, and Nicomen Ridge is longer then it seems.
From the intersection of the trail to the First Brother it is another 45 minutes/3.5 km to get to the Kicking Horse Campground. To get to the campground, make the left turn off the trail. The campground has wooden platforms to pitch the tent on. The campground itself is situated in a drop-off between to ridges by a stream. If you decide to camp at Kicking Horse, you should arrive early, as this is a very popular campground being in such great scenery and only 13.5 km or 4 hours away from the trailhead. If you decide to continue, you should make sure that you fill up your water bottles before you leave the campground. This is also the half way point to Nicomen Lake, but continue on for another 45 minutes to an hour before you sit down for a longer break. When you leave Kicking Horse you start to gain some of the elevation you just lost going down to the campsite. Just after the first kilometre, you will once again be in a pristine alpine landscape. Continuing to the top of this hill, you will find the perfect spot for a lunch or just sit down and enjoy the view.
After leaving your lunch spot on the top of this ridge you will hike around it slowly turning around the end and down a gully. At the bottom of the gully you have again lost some 300-400 feet, which you will regain immediately going up to the beginning of Nicomen Ridge. To get to the Nicomen Lake Campground, follow the ridge to the end, and then descend the 600 feet to the lake. It will take you some 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the end of the ridge, and another 20-30 minutes to the lake campground. It will take you around 4 hours from Kicking Horse Campground, and you have hiked 22 km from the trailhead. Once you have reached the campground you will find that this site is not crowded whatsoever. In fact you have finally reached a place were you will find that peace and quietness you have sought. There are numerous campsites around the lake, so take the time to find a good one, and don't take the first one you see.
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Posted By: Laura Wieland
- Tue Sep 01 12:26:25 UTC 2015
I am interested in hiking on the Heather Meadow Trail. Is there a possibility to get from the end of the trail at Nicomen Lake back to the head of the trail or straight to Hope?
Is the trail more like a road or like a hiking trail?
LauraANSWERS are in this forum: Heather Meadow Trail
Posted By: happyhopers
- Tue Aug 11 00:11:12 UTC 2015
UpsideMore Downhill than Uphill DownsideCan be busy CommentWe hiked the Heather Meadows trail camped and camped at Buckhorn for night one. On to the First Brother, then lunch at Kicking Horse and camped at Nicomen Lake - when we got there only one tent was in the campground. By 9:00 pm every site was full, two bigger groups, and 3 smaller groups, but we still were able to enjoy the remote beauty of this campsite. We hiked out along the Grainger Creek Trail, onto the Hope Pass trail which is an old wagon road and a pretty nice end to a 46km hike.
(This report is only for Three Brothers Mountain) Easy instant access with a car road to the high altitude. Quite decent view of 360 degrees from many spots along the way. Beautiful alpine meadows and often sparse stands of Alpine Fir/ White Spruce. Wide well surfaced decent trails, especially at the alpine meadows. Gentle incline all the way to keep running, no need to walk. There are washrooms at the parking and bottom part of the trail(first 1/3 of the way?). Interesting ridge line trail at towards the end. Very modest exposure & gives comfortable thrill to beginner mountain trail person like myself. (When I crawled on the ridge at Brunswick mountain the thrill was clearly beyond me- although it was described as â??Moderateâ?? in advanced guidebooks) Downside Trail gets bit rooty and hard to see them in the woods. Personally I donâ??t like going back up to finish the trail. Near the peak some briefcase size of rocks unstable. Fairly crowded despite being the weekday. Comment (From the upper parking lot to main(first peak) of Brothers mountain 70mins, return 61mins. Total running time to go and return 131mins. Total time spent was 141mins including 10mins break at the top. Pace was about 10% slower than usual due to recuperation of calf muscle. Fast runner should be able to do a go-return trip in 100minues. )
From the clear sign equipped upper parking lot you start. Trail almost immediately starts going down, albeit gradually, till you get to the campsite in about 3-4km. I think this is the lowest point and ascent starts from here for the first time. But most of ascent is very gentle and you can continue the good running pace. At about the half way point meadow you get to see Brothers mountain still quite far away, but you will get there rather quick as the climb is very gentle. You will continue with cliff on your east side(but not scary sudden drop type like in North Shore mountains). Then there is a clear sign at the second turn off on the trail for â??Brothers mountainâ??
After the junction the ascent has a short somewhat steeper section but no need to walk here as it ends quickly. Because there are no trees there the whole mountain scale looks big but actually from this point the peak is a mere hill away. Soon you get to enjoyable ridge with good view on both sides and after few crawling you get to the top. Great view from the top.
Return is straight forward. But because the bottom of the trail is at the roughly the half way point, you need to climb again to get back to the parking. Some guidebooks said vertical drop is 300m, but I felt its more like 600-700m. May be because of fair amount of mini ups and downs of 10-30m.
Posted By: SVTGuy02
- Fri Aug 14 21:12:31 UTC 2009
QuestionFor those who have done this trail, how long would you say it would be from start to finish, hours wise?
I plan on doing this trail sometime mid to late september, do you think the weather is going to be OK during that season or too cold?
this will be my first long distance hike in a long time. My last one was black tusk when I was like 12yrs old. I've got what I think is all the proper gear and will be going up with directions and maps.
How easy is it to find your way around? Does this trail take you far away from the highway/provincial campsites or are you basicaly hiking provincialy designated trails?
I just want to know if this trail is as easy/rugged as I'd like it to me =D ANSWERS are in this forum: Question about heather trail
Posted By: jearsy
- Tue Jul 21 03:00:28 UTC 2009
UpsideThere were a some amazing views of flowers and mountain vistas. This was my second time coming to this hike and I will returning again in a couple of years. DownsideKicking Horse Campsite can fill up very fast and then you are forced to backtrack all the way to Buckhorn or go another 11kms to Nicomen Lake Campgrounds. CommentA fantastic hike, especially if you are able to time it with the blooming of the alpine flowers.
Posted By: bcweatherman
- Mon Aug 06 18:12:28 UTC 2007
UpsideGreat flower meadows, peace and quiet, above treeline quite a bit Downsidenicomen lake to cayoosh flats parking log is a bit long especially the last 5 k... CommentEnjoyable hike. Quite lonesome considering it's so close to vancouver. South side of the park gets more traffic. Saw goshawks in grainger creek area. (2006)
Posted By: shelmer
- Sat May 28 21:30:30 UTC 2005
Upsidegentle hiking, great meadows Downsidebugs in some months, CommentA great trail, although the views are not quite as dramtic as on the south side of Manning Park.
Posted By: mountaingirl
- Tue Jul 16 17:03:11 UTC 2002
CommentJuly 16/02 - Heather trail is now open. Kicking Horse to Nicomen Lake still has some snow patches.
Posted By: trailpeak
- Wed Jul 10 07:07:32 UTC 2002
CommentAs of July 7, 2002, this trail was still closed due to snow. Park staff waiting for a good blast of 4-days of sunny weather.
Posted By: Kodiak
- Tue Jul 09 14:04:13 UTC 2002
UpsideBeautiful flowers in early August. Trip possible for the beginner backpacker or kids. DownsideNot very challenging. The hike out from Grainger Creek is rather long and boring. CommentGreat side side trip to First brother Mtn. Nicomen lake has good fishing, but lots of black flies.