March 21, 2008 | Tips from Us >
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The best thing about snowshoeing in Manning Provincial Park is the diversity of terrain. There are pretty rigorous vertical ascents to Windy Joe Mountain or Blackwall Peak, and flat forest trails around the lakes.
My ascent to the Blackwall Peak lookout took 2.5 hours of nearly non-stop snowshoeing plus a 20-minute stop for lunch. This is snowshoeing for the sake of snowshoeing -- and to admire the view. The "trail" is actually an unplowed park road. So there's no challenge in finding your way. But the snow is plenty deep for snowshoeing. I saw a lot of animal tracks, including lynx, and caught sight of many birds and squirrels.
The trail around Lightning Lake has no major changes in elevation, but much of it crosses the slope running down to the lake, so you're snowshoeing at an angle and stepping near some edges that could be tricky if you don't watch where you're going. If you hike around all of Lightning Lake, you'll need about 7 hours. If you take the shortcut across the bridge halfway down the lake, you'll need 2.5 hours -- assuming you never pause to take a picture or watch the wildlife. If you follow the trail to the left from the parking lot, the last leg of the hike is a bit deceiving. Just when it seems that you've nearly reached the end, the trail winds wildly around a sharp peninsula and adds another 30-45 minutes to the trip. The only other way off the trail is to sneak onto the cross-country skiing track, which has signs warning off snowshoers. Or to venture onto the frozen lake...if the ice is thick enough (be sure to check
I stayed at the Manning Park Lodge. The place is modest but immaculate, and you just can't beat the location. The nearest snowshoe trail is literally a few steps out the door of the lodge.