Heather Trail to Kicking Horse Campground

A lovely overnight hike☀️

Veiw towards the mountains and the border

I did this hike in the beginning of September, over the Labour Day long weekend. The weather report promised fantastic weather, so we were all very excited to go😃

Trail stats

  • The hike to Kicking Horse campground (N 49°06'12", W 120°45'35") is 13km from the Upper parking lot on Blackwall Rd (N 49°10'48", W 120°48'29"). Not including 1.2km return to the summit of the First Brother Mountain (N 49°09'58", W 120°46'06").
  • Cumulative elevation gain to the campground is approximately 400m.

E. C. Manning Park has many wonderful trails all traversing through alpine meadows and offer stunning views of the North Cascade mountain range. One of these trails is the very popular Heather Trail, which can be done as an easy day hike or as a one/two nights hike depending on how far you go.

The drive from Vancouver is roughly 2.5h, so we planed on heading out quite early. Luckily for us there were no accidents on the highway that morning, so the drive was quite uneventful. It was very cloudy all the way past Hope, but once we got on highway 3 the sun broke through and it got quite warm. Thanks to the air conditioned car, we all stayed quite cool❄️🚗

We began the hike out to the campsite just before 1PM. The very first part of the hike follows along a little loop trail that during covid was oneway only. After 500m we came to a pretty steep staircase, which marked the beginning of the descent to the first campsite (Buckhorn) at 4km. The elevation loss is a little more than 200m. Which we had to gain again starting right after we left the small campsite, after a short lunch break.

The elevation profile of the hike to the campsite.
The elevation profile of the hike to the campsite.

We reached the Kicking Horse campground at 5:20PM and managed to find a nice spot to pitch our tents. There were already quite a lot of people at the campsite, so I would not recommend arriving any later than we did. After setting up camp I did a bit of exploring on the trails leaving the campsite, hoping to find a nice spot where we could watch the sunset. Unfortunately it seemed like we had to climb some pretty steep slopes, so I abandoned the idea again. We found a nice little plateau were we had dinner, hot cocoa (with bourbon) and looked at the stars after the sun had set. The moon didn’t appear until a few hours later, which meant the sky was full of stars and quite a few satellites.

Overlooking the campsite from our dinner spot.
Overlooking the campsite from our dinner spot.

We got up around 7:30AM the next morning. We weren’t in a hurry, so we took our time eating breakfast and repacking our backpacks. We started the return hike just before 10:30AM, planing to stop for lunch at the junction to the short First Brother summit trail. The summit of the First Brother mountain is the destination for most of the day hikes, but it wasn’t super busy yet. We enjoyed the absolutely fantastic views from the summit for a bit, before returning to the main trail again.

View from the summit of the First Brother Mt. The red arrow marks the parking lot.
View from the summit of the First Brother Mt. The red arrow marks the parking lot.

We passed quite a lot of people hiking towards the campground we had left a few hours earlier. It looked like it would be yet another busy evening. We changed into some dry clothes and flip flops, after climbing the hill back up to the parking lot. We ended our hike with a cold beer and a bit of food. All-in-all a great weekend😄