Larch Trees turn a brilliant orange color in fall and can reach over 120 feet in height. They are generally found in higher elevations and colder climates. The needles are short, flat and are clustered in groups of 30 or 40. The best time to view the larches is late September to mid-October.
Mount Frosty, the highest peak in Manning Park is possibly the best place close to Vancouver to view them. The hike is about 8 – 10 hours return, which takes you through a thick rich forest of alpine trees. The trail is not difficult until you reach the base of Frosty Peak where there is a lot of scree. The trail is accessed from the Lightning Lakes day use area in Manning Park and is on the other side of Lightning Lake.
I had the opportunity to take a group of people up there twice in the last month, first as an overnight and second as a day trip. If you are doing it as an overnight, stay at the Frosty Creek campground where there is an outhouse, bear cache, fire pit, small log cabin and five or six spots to pitch your tent. About 20 minutes, from the campsite, is the Larch field where we were treated to 2000-year-old Larches reaching over 100 feet in height. One can spend hours photographing these beautiful trees without even going to the summit of Frosty, which is about another hour hike from the Larch field. I highly recommend going to the summit on a clear fall day or when the clouds or high in the sky or in summer. The views of the surrounding mountains are worth it.
It was my first time seeing the Larches this year on Mount Frosty and they did not disappoint. The drive to Manning Park is about 2 1/2 hours from Vancouver and 2 hours and 11 minutes from Burnaby. It is a stunning drive along the # 3 highway, but be sure to have winter tires on your car from October 1st onward.