Hiking has become one of our favorite activities while camping and Squamish is the perfect destination. We recently camped at Porteau Cove Provincial Park and while there, we took a morning hike to Shannon Falls Provincial Park. This is a very popular park in part due to it convenient location, 60 km north of Vancouver and right off of Highway 99, and because of the number of hikes that can be accessed from this park. There is a public parking lot but it fills up fast. If you are planning on visiting on the weekend you are best to arrive early.
Shannon Falls is the center piece of this park and the trails provide spectacular views from a variety of levels. The trails are in great shape and very well maintained but each year climbers irresponsibly venture off the trail to get closer access to the Falls. Unfortunately many do not appreciate the danger of the falls and the results are sometimes fatal.
We camped at Lightning Lake Campground a couple years back on our anniversary but just realized I did not do a complete review. Lightning Lake Campground is one of 5 campgrounds located within E.C. Manning Park. It is by far the most popular campground, making it difficult to get into. We also stayed at Coldspring Campground the same trip and you can find that review by clicking here.
There are two loops in this campground. I would recommend the large loop if you have a choice. We camped here in early September and stayed in site 13. It was a very large level site that had limited trees but because the sites are so spread apart it still felt very private. There are 92 sites in the large loop and they are all generally good. The park is located high in the mountains so the days were warm but the evenings were very chilly. Camping in this park is a hiker’s paradise with endless trails for every level. The park does an amazing job of providing literature on all, including: the trail name, starting point, level, distance, elevation, estimated time, special features and a short trail description. We did the Canyon Nature Trail and part of the Lightning Lakes Chain. Both were very scenic and easy hikes that almost anyone can handle. There are so many trails it is difficult to decide which one to do. If you’re lucky, you will see some wildlife along the way.
After completing your hike you can then enjoy some time at the lake. The campground is located next to stunning Lightning Lake, which is perfect for kayaking, canoeing and, if the weather is warm enough, swimming. They offer boat rentals at the lake for those who want to give it a try. Some trails require a short portage. The park also has several horse and bike trails. If you like the outdoors this is the campground for you.
Living in the Vancouver area, I well aware of how expensive it is. It is not uncommon to hear people talk about moving away to get more housing “bang for their buck”. That is, until, we have a string of sunny days and then we are all reminded of why we will never leave.
This week was one of those weeks. The sun was out, the sky was blue and we had the time to get out and enjoy several areas of Greater Vancouver. From snowshoeing, to scenic walks, and campfires by the river. Greater Vancouver really does offer it all. Here is a summary of the week! Continue reading →
Coldspring is one of 4 campgrounds located within EC Manning Provincial Park. The most popular campground is Lightning Lakes followed by Coldspring, Mule Deer and Hampton. There are also 3 group campgrounds within Manning Park. Coldspring is a very large campground but only offers basic amenities; pit toilets, well water and a self check in gate which are consistent with the less expensive Provincial Parks. We could not get a site at Lightning Lake on the long weekend so we settled with one at Coldspring. As we approached we could see several campsites from the highway so we were concerned. The large loop of the campground is very exposed to the highway and the sites offer limited trees to provide privacy. Most of the sites are a good size though and upon further review there were many that would work great. We went for a walk and found several sites along the creek which sat well below the highway providing a private, quiet camping experience.
What this park offers is great hiking. There are endless trails in this area that range from easy short hikes to more experienced overnight camping trails. We were camping with another couple who were staying at Lightning Lakes so we planned to spend a lot of time up there. They had printed off 8 pages of hiking trails in the area, so deciding on which one was the challenging part. Upon arrival the weather was rainy and cold with a nighttime low of -2 degrees being called for. That forecast worked in our favour because Saturday morning we were able to move to a site at Lightning Lakes due to a cancellation. Turned out the weather was nice and sunny all weekend so our trip was great.
Note that there is no cellphone reception within EC Manning Park. You can access Wifi at the resort if needed.
Our thoughts in the Coldspring Campground
We stayed in site 13. It was large with a lot of space between us and our neighbors although quite open and we could see and hear the highway traffic.
In the main loop, I would only recommend sites along the creek. They are well treed, backed onto the creek which helped mute the traffic and offered good privacy. Site 26 would be our top choice.
The lower road offers the best sites (sites 27-47). The road runs well below the highway so traffic noise was well muted. I would suggest only sites on the creek side because most of the roadside sites were very narrow and open to the road.
Site 28 & 32 were very nice pull through style sites.
Site 37 was the last site on the road and was very private. Great for dogs because they would have more freedom.
If staying on the lower road we noticed the noise started to disappear at site 42 and past.
Creekside sites on lower roads are very private.
Many double sites to choose from
Several first come first serve sites
Short walking trail that leads to Lightning Lakes Park.
Campground access to several local hikes
Proximity to highway. Some site are fully exposed to the road
Limited large trees on center sites
No cell service at all
Things to do
Hiking is the main attraction for campers in the area
Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located 5 minutes outside Pemberton and 25 minutes north of Whistler making it a great home base for those wanting to enjoy the many outdoor activities in the area. We recently camped a night there before heading into Whistler.
We decided to only stay one night mostly because of the limited facilities. Nairn Falls has no hook ups, which is the case with most provincial parks, but it also only has pit toilets and well water making it a bit more primitive than the camping we normally do (aka, I like my showers). We were planning a Monday night stay, so after checking the Discover Camping Reservation System which indicated the chance of getting a first come first serve site was high, we headed there without a site reserved.
Now this doesn’t sound like a big deal to most people but I am someone who likes to plan things down to the smallest detail so this was a risky move for me and even riskier for my husband who had to deal with my heightened stress.The drive from Vancouver to Nairn Falls is spectacular and worth the trip on its own. We arrived around noon and after cruising around the campground we settled on a site. We were meeting another couple so it was an added bonus that we could get double site 8/9. The camp sites at this park are large so there really isn’t a bad site to be had but all the sites along the cliffs edge have spectacular views and are worth reserving ahead of time if you can get one. Not surprising those sites were gone but a site across the road from the view was the next best thing. It was also close to the washrooms and far enough off the road to distance the traffic noise.
The main reason we decided to stay at Nairn Falls was for the local hiking so after we set up we headed out to complete the Joffre Lake hike. This has to be one of the most spectacular hikes in the area and it only took around 2 hours to complete. That evening we enjoyed the views of the campground and drinks with friends.
The next morning was check out so we only had time for a short hike. We saved the Nairn Falls hike for that morning because it can be completed in under and hour. It was an easy hike and worth the view at the end.
Once packed up we were ready to head out but it was too early to check into our Whistler campground so we decided to explore Pemberton. We had passed North Arm Farm the day before and wanted to go back to find some fresh berries. The views from this farm were amazing and after buying a “hand pie” we sat on the swings and took in the sites. I had never berry picked before so myself and one of our friends headed into the fields, bucket in hand. It didn’t take us long to realize why they can never hire berry pickers. In our short 15 minute pick we were both covered in mosquito bites. After gather enough berries for sangria and cereal we called it a day and headed back to the safety of our vehicles. On to Whistler it was but not before declaring Pemberton and Joffre Lakes a successful stay.
Here are my thoughts on the campground.
Sites 2,4,6,7,11,13/14,16 are prime view sites. Get them if you can, they are worth it.
Avoid sites that back onto highway 99, although there is a lot of bush to dampen the noise, the highway is right there so they are the noisiest
Hike number 2 on our 7 day hiking trip was Nairn Falls located just south of Pemberton. We had set up camp at Nairn Falls Provincial Park for one night so we needed a short hike in the morning before we had to check out. The hike from the parking lot to the falls is only 1.5 km so it fit the bill just right. It was also an easy hike and because we were all recovering from our Joffre Lake hike the day before it seemed perfect. Continue reading →
It is clear from my Facebook and Twitter feed that the campgrounds will be busy this weekend. The Victoria Day long weekend marks the unofficial start to the Canadian summer. For campers, the problem of getting a campsite begins, but if you were lucky enough to snag one, then enjoy your time.
We were unable to get a site but are hoping to spend some time with friends who did luck out. We are heading to Delta Grove at Cultus Lake for a night and hoping the weather Gods are in our corner. I have reviewed Cutlus Lake in a previous blog so on this trip I will gather more photos and site selection tips. Continue reading →