Into the Winter Wilderness: A Cross-country Ski Getaway at Manning Park Resort

Manning Park's unspoiled wilderness makes it a perfect place to get lost in winter's wonder

Credit: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven

Manning Park’s majesty is an ode to the beauty of winter wilderness

With majestic scenery, ideal conditions and gently rolling trail terrain, Manning Park is the quintessential spot for the discerning cross-country ski buff

Even though January in Vancouver is packed with extra events (Dine Out Vancouver and PuSH Festival) designed specifically to alleviate holiday withdrawal monotony, it’s bleak. I survive by counting down the days until my next sublime cross-country ski weekend getaway.

Manning Park’s beautiful treeline. (Image: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven)

If I’m desperate midweek, I’ll zip up to Cypress and lash out a few laps. There’s nothing like gliding swiftly through fresh powder knowing this scenic, intensive exercise will make your almost-30-year-old bum transform into the pert double grapefruits of a 21-year-old. At least for the next five days.

But my destination of choice is Manning Park.

Getting to Manning Park

Ideally a weekend getaway means a gorgeous road trip to a quiet resort where the unspoiled wilderness is so real, so taken for granted they forgot to oversell it on the park website. For me, this XC mecca is Manning Park.

Manning Park, near Hope, is a well-visited park, but if you set out early Saturday morning, there’s minimal traffic during the three-hour drive into the heart of the Cascade Mountains. On the other hand, if heading up to Whistler you’ll experience road rage half a dozen times.

Manning Park Scenery and Weather

The sun shines off Manning’s snow and blankets the trees. (Image: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven)

Manning Park is majestic. With 70,844 hectares of empty, rugged, forest-clad mountains, deep valleys, alpine meadows and lakes, there’s a grand sense of quiet that makes you want to ask, “If a tree falls in the forest…” No one will answer. Just enjoy the winter wilderness where Canada’s big trees seem even bigger and snowflakes have the diameter of a saucer.

Virtually alone, Manning Park is a personal experience.
(Image: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven)

It’s so gorgeous you won’t care that the Manning Park Resort rooms are mediocre at best, or that the Bears Den Pub, virtually the only dining option inside the park, managed to ruin precooked fries.

Most importantly, in my experience, the conditions are more often than not ideal in the Cascades: 0 to -5C, glorious sunshine, fresh snow. If you do eventually encounter another skier, they’ll want to bond over this. Expect to lose time affirming Manning Park’s perfection in awed tones.

Manning Park Cross-country Ski Trails and Lessons

My final reason for favouring Manning Park over other BC cross-country destinations are the trail levels. The 30 km of trails that are kept groomed at Manning Park are mostly green, for beginners, with a loop or two of advanced and intermediate skiing.

I’m not a beginner cross-country ski buff, though I do appreciate a smooth stretch of path that lets me get into my glide stride and sweat it out. The trails’ slopes are significant enough to be fun, while small enough to keep your ski rhythm and confidence.

For me, cross-country skiing is a mandatory pastime. I married a Norwegian and I had to learn or the Scandies would never give me a residence permit. Just kidding.

I’m quite happy my husband thought it was an activity we could enjoy together and B.C. has some great cross country spots. It’s been our winter sport of choice for the last three years.

The author tucks down a freshly groomed decline. (Image: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven)

If you haven’t learned cross country or would like to brush up on some old school skills, try the trails and courses at Manning Park. Manning offers traditional ski waxing lessons, a rarity in a world of wax-free XC gear, along with private and group classic cross-country skill sessions.

Or, check out some of BC’s other top cross-country ski spots!