New Zealand Highlights: Part 3

Vlog number 3! This video is dedicated to our 4 day hike on the infamous Milford Track!

Links here for Part 1 and Part 2.

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Stay Local: Exploring the Tri-Cities

My recent posts have been about hikes and backpacking trips I’ve done in the last few years, so let’s get back to the present for a change. It’s been a long couple of months, but one of the things that has really helped me deal with my separation from camping and the backcountry, is making the time to go for walks in my neighbourhood. I’m a new resident to the Tri-Cities area and I was thrilled to discover that there is no shortage of parks and green spaces for me explore between Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody. I’m sure many of these trails are well known to long-time residents, but here are some of my favourite local trails!

City Walks

Riverview Forest – This is my personal favourite. It’s a small park across the street from popular Mundy Park. It has really nice rustic trails weaving through the forest and it’s a good place to escape the crowds and see who can spot the most painted rocks.

Colony Farm Regional Park – There’s little tree cover in this park, so it can get pretty hot on a sunny day, but it has a nice big trail loop that’s great for running and biking. I enjoy walking my dog along the river through the park.

Traboulay PoCo Trail – The PoCo Trail runs right around the city and has a little bit of something for everyone. I’ve only explored a small portion of this 25km trail to date, but it’s a great trail to complete over several days or weeks if you like setting goals!

Nearby Hikes

Crystal Falls – The trailhead is located close to Coquitlam Town Centre and the hike straddles the border of Pinecone Burke Provincial Park. There’s minimal elevation gain on this hike, so it’s great on a rainy day and has the reward of a beautiful waterfall at the end.

Minnekhada Regional Park – A short drive up Quarry Road lands you at this gem of a regional park. It’s a great place for bird-watching and with two loops around the lake, it’s easy to customize to whatever length you like. When I visited, the hike to High Knoll was closed for social distancing.

Pinecone Burke Provincial Park – Pinecone Burke recently opened for day use and there’s a wide variety of trails to explore in the park. If you like an easier grade, check out the Woodland Walk up to Sawblade Falls. If you’re looking for something more challenging, hike up to Coquitlam Lake Viewpoint or Munro Lake.

Eagle Mountain Trails – If you’re looking for a longer hike that stays out of the parks, there’s a huge trail network along the base of Eagle Mountain in Port Moody. It’s easy to build your own adventure on these trails, just watch out for mountain bikers!

Getting There

Depending where you live, there are lots of trails you can reach on foot – but if you’re going a little further, public transit or Modo can get you where you need to go! I like to book a Modo when I’m going to the forest or mountains, which is what I did when I visited Pinecone Burke. My go-to cars include the Toyota Corolla on Charland Avenue and the Hyundai Tucson and Toyota Prius at Braid Station. There are also Modo vehicles available at Lougheed, Coquitlam Town Centre, and Inlet Centre. I’m a Modo Ambassador, so you can sign up using my promo code ‘MARIA50’ to save $50 in driving credit!

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Hiking Lightning Lakes

This is the third post in my Manning Park mini-series, so it’s time to talk about one of Manning’s most popular day hikes – Lightning Lakes. Manning Park has 3 campgrounds inside the park: Hampton, Cold Spring, and Lightning Lakes. I’ve camped at Hampton several times and once at Lightning Lakes. Of the 3, Lightning Lakes is definitely the most popular, so you have to be on the ball when booking, which is why I usually end up at Hampton. The nice thing about Manning Park though is that with 3 campgrounds, you don’t have to book a site right when they release, there’s usually something available.

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So in 2017, me and my friends starting making a car camping trip to Manning Park an annual thing. We drive up after work on Friday, do a short hike on Saturday, and then spend the rest of the weekend taking it easy. Usually our trips are all about physical activities, but our manning trip has always been about lazing at the beach, drinking beer, and playing games. After a big breakfast on Saturday morning, we usually relocate to the Lightning Lakes day use area for the rest of the day to hike, go swimming, and have a BBQ. It’s usually too chilly for swimming in the morning, so we’ve gotten in the habit of exploring around the lake.

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Lightning Lakes is as the name suggests, more than 1 lake. The first lake is located at the Day Use area and you can hang out at the picnic tables or rent a boat to explore for the day. There’s a bit of an offshoot from the lake on the other side of the boat launch and then if you follow the river up from the main lake, there’s a second long lake heading into the backcountry. There is a bridge across the river, so you can opt to do just the bottom lake, just the top lake, or both. The first year we’d intended to do both, but the length of the hike is actually a little bit misleading and it is longer than you think, so we ended up just exploring around the first lake. Then our second year we did the opposite and hiked around the back lake. Whatever you choose, make sure you cross the bridge! In my opinion it’s the most scenic part of the lake. There’s very little elevation gain on the hike, so it makes for a nice leisurely walk.

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As I mentioned, you can also rent boats at the lake. I’ve never done this myself because we have a little rubber dinghy that we usually bring, but some time I would like to rent a canoe and go up the river to the end of the lake. Some people find the lake pretty cold for swimming, but we’ve always enjoyed it. There’s also a large dog beach on the east side of the day use area and it’s fun to watch the ground squirrels popping out of their burrows and running around on the grass.

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I definitely prefer Lightning Lakes in the summer, but it does also make for a great snowshoeing location in the winter. Manning is one of my favourite places to snowshoe because unlike the North Shore and the Sea to Sky, it consistently gets snow all winter, so there’s always been fresh powder around when I’ve gone out there. This past winter I went out when my parents were visiting and we snowshoed up to the end of the second lake. We followed the trail on the way up and walked back across the lake. Careful doing this obviously – make sure it’s mid-winter and that’s it’s been cold for a while surrounding your visit.

So if you’re looking for a short, fun, and scenic hike; Lightning Lakes makes for a great pick any time of year!

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