Vancouver Hiking Trails
Three Brothers Mountain

Destination: Sub-alpine

Choosing from one of the Vancouver hiking trails listed in the 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia book, we chose the Three Brothers Mountain trail. We picked this trail because the trailhead begins in the sub-alpine, which meant we would not have to hike to the high elevation first.

The alpine meadows typically are snow free by August the first and the mountain wildflowers are in bloom, filling the mountain air with their sweet aromas. In anticipation of this we packed up our hiking gear and headed out for Manning Park early in the morning arriving at the lower parking lot about 9:30 in the morning.

Fresh Air and Cold

The air was clear and crisp, I shivered slightly as I exited the vehicle... 8 degrees Celsius to start would require a light fleece jacket until the air or we warmed up. It was going to be a beautiful day in the mountains and we hoped the result of the cool weather would keep the insects at bay.

After applying a layer of sunscreen and insect repellent, we donned our boots and packs, locked the truck and headed out on the Heather Trail.

Heather Trail - Three Brothers Mountain

The trail sign indicates the way.

Three Brothers Mountain Summit

Your Destination: The Three Brothers Mountain Summit in the Distance
Circled in Red

The first thing I noticed was the snow. There were still snow patches in the shadowed areas of the trail, I knew we had had a cold wet spring but I was caught a little off guard by the white stuff. There was not enough snow to be bothersome; we could walk around most patches. The snow meant that spring was late in coming to the high altitudes and there would not be as many wildflowers in bloom.

Undaunted, we pressed on. Our goal was one of two options:

  1. Summit the Three Brothers Mountain
  2. Travel as far along the trail as we could

Know Your Limitations

We had not done many long distance hikes this season till now, therefore we were not in the best of shape. The Summit was 10.5 kilometres from the parking lot or 21 return trip. My wife was not sure she would be able to do the entire trip, so the plan was to go as far as she felt comfortable with and have remaining energy to make it back to the trail head.

Vancouver Hiking Trails
Three Brothers Mountains Trail

Trail Facts

  • Distance Round Trip: 21 km (13 miles)
  • Time Allowance: 7 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 320 m (1050 feet)
  • Average Grade: 3.0%
  • High point of trail: 2273 m (7453 feet)

The Heather Trail

This Vancouver hiking trail begins as a wide track, easily accommodating two people walking abreast. Approximately 2 kilometres down the trail you meet a split in the trail. We started our hike from the lower parking lot, taking the trail to the right at this split takes you to the upper parking lot.

The trail narrows here as we continued straight following the Heather Trail. About four kilometres along the trail brings you to the Buckhorn Campsite. With tent platforms available this makes a lovely spot to spend a night if you so choose. There are outhouses and a metal food cache here too.

We spent a few minutes being entertained by a female Blue Grouse who was feigning an injury to try and lure us away from her chicks. She put on quite a show for us, although we never did see her chicks.

Blue Grouse on the Three Brothers Mountain Trail

Grouse pretending to be injured

Flowers that can be found on Vancouver Hiking Trails

Some beautiful wild ground-flowers

The trail to this point has been a steady ascent; now crossing the small creek the trail angles upwards. Following as it wanders through the forest offering occasional views of the alpine meadows. A few kilometres more and the trail breaks out upon the open alpine meadows. There is no shade beyond this point, so be sure and put on your sunscreen.

Once out on the open alpine meadows of the Vancouver Hiking Trails Three Brothers Mountain trail the views are spectacular. In every direction you look you will see the most beautiful skylines. Well worth the effort so far while hiking this Vancouver hiking trail.

Manning Park is home to Wild Animals

Keep an eye open for deer, moose, elk, marmots and bears as well as countless other wild animal species. Manning Park has been designated as a Grizzly Bear rehabilitation area and therefore you must practice bear safety while in the back country.

Sng Tree on the Three Brothers Mountain Trail

Snag tree backlit by the Sun

Big Buck Mountain Summit

A view of
Big Buck Mountain Summit

We spotted a beautiful mule deer doe in dressed in her summer color of light brown. Sadly, she did not stay around long enough to take her picture.

The trail angles across the basin as it approaches a high saddle. From here your destination is in sight. If you look closely you will see the trail as it cuts towards the summit.

As it turns out we chose to stop at the saddle which is just down from the summit of Big Buck mountain. We took a few pictures and turned to start our descent, choosing not to take any rest lest the blood-thirsty mosquitoes take another pint of blood. We stopped just long enough to apply a fresh layer of Muskol mosquito repellent and were on our way.

View east from the Three Brothers Mountain Trail Vancouver Hiking Trails

View east from the Three Brothers Mountain Trail

Indian Paint Brush Flower Vancouver Hiking Trails

Indian Paint Brush Flower

Trip Summary

Although disappointed by the fact we did not summit, we were refreshed by the mountain views and alpine meadows; we will return later this summer and summit the Three Brothers Mountain trail. We were close to completing this goal... short by about 3 kilometres return. Both of us were plenty tired by the time we returned to the lower parking lot, we were happy with our decision to turn back early.

flowers in blossom  Vancouver Hiking Trails

A stark contrast, flowers in blossom with snow nearby.

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