I haven't been in Manning Park for a while, and this time I wanted to reach the Windy Joe Fire Tower. This peak and fire tower were named after Joe Hilton, who worked in the Park from 1946 to 1975, and who was responsible for laying out many hiking trails which exist in the park today.
Unfortunately, I didn't read well the instructions and I started on Beaver Pond adding 2 more kilometres to my hike.
The real trail is better reached after passing the horse stable and following the trail that borders the Similkameen River. The trail is an old access road that was previously used to transport people and goods to the fire lookout at the summit.
During the first part of the trail, if you start early morning you can see many species of birds that live in Manning Park.
This is a great hike for families (children age 7 and up, or younger if they are good hikers.)
This was a cloudy day, but I was able to have a short view of Frosty Mountain, the highest peak in the park (2408 m). Along the trail I have views of the surrounding areas.
Finally I reached the Fire Tower. In 1950, this tower was erected
and for the next 13 summers served as the first line of defence against forest fires. By 1963 the United States
had built the larger lookout at monument 83. Today, most of the fire spotting is done from airplanes, although
the U.S. Forest Service still posts a ranger at the monument 83 tower during extremely hazardous seasons.
Although this tower is now obsolete, it servers as a reminder of the early efforts to control wildfires in Manning.
For 13 years this fire finder was used in locating fires in the Manning Park area. When smoke was seen, the observer would determine the position of the fire by lining up the sights of the finder with the smoke. The location was then recorded on the circular map and phoned down to park headquarters.
The lookout has not been used since 1965, but still offers a magnificent panoramic view, from Frosty Mountain to Blackwall Mountain. Alpine Fir and White-bark Pine abound; the firs have purplish cones which disintegrate on the tree during the winter, and leave only the central spires sticking straight up on the top branches. White-bark Pine have smooth, pale-grey bark and needles in bunches of five.
An outhouse is available just before the summit but you have to bring your own toilet paper. Terrible mistake, I forgot mine. I hard a time coming back because I was in a real need of a bathroom.
Length: 8 km one way
Driving distance from Vancouver: 225 km (140 miles)