WINDY JOE Mountain / Fire Lookout
Route: Snow-covered trail (snowshoes)


TR #: 339

Category: British Columbia/Alberta       Summit Elev: 1,838 m / 6,030 ft

Partner: Sue Abegg

A snowshoe in Manning Park to a Fire Lookout tower.


It was President's Day (in ths US) and Family Day (in Canada), so it seemed like the ideal holiday to acknowledge both my feelings about Donald Trump and my family and visit my parents up in Canada. It was also sunny and a great day for a snowshoe, so my mom and I decided to check out Manning Park and snowshoe to Windy Joe Lookout.

Windy Joe is an excellent snowshoe destination. The trail ascends gently through beautiful forest on an old forest access road and ends at a historic forest fire lookout. Views don't really open up until the top, but from the lookout, one can see mountains in all directions. To the southwest are Castle Peak and Frosty Mountain. To the east are Monument 83, Ptarmigan Peak, and Mount Winthrop. To the west are Mount Outram, Mount Ford, and Mount Dewdney. To the north are Blackwall Peak and Three Brothers Mountain, as well as Highway 3 and the Similkameen River that wind their way through the valley below. 

The lookout building was built in 1950, and served as a fire lookout until 1965. It has two levels of glass-walled observation rooms, designed to enable detection of possible fires in all directions. Inside on the upper level is an old sighting mechanism for identifying locations of fires. The lookout is registered as one of Canada's heritage buildings, and quite well-maintained.

All in all, a great day out in the mountains with my mom. The following page gives a short trip report for the day's adventure.


gpx file
GPS track.
(GAIA map screenshot)
GPS track.
(Google Earth screenshot)
GPS track.

Round trip TH to Windy Joe, Guidebook: 15.8 km / 9.8 mi;  +/- 653 m / 2,140 ft
~5.5 hours (2:25 up, 1 hour at lookout, 2 hours down)


The trail is well-signed and marked with kilometer placards.
Most of the hike is through a pleasant forest. Since it was a Monday following a nice weekend, we had a well-tracked trail to follow. This made for quick travel and meant we never even needed snowshoes.
A winter wonderland of snow-laden trees as we neared the lookout.
Windy Joe Fire Lookout.
Inside the lower level of the lookout.
The view from the upper level of the lookout. There are paintings above the windows that help orient the viewer to the surrounding mountains and landmarks.
One of the coolest parts about the lookout is the sighting mechanism for identifying locations of fires.
The view to the southwest.
Zoomed in on Castle Peak and Frosty Mountain to the southwest.
This photo was taken from beside the lookout looking southeast. The true summit of Windy Joe is the forested bump just to the south on the right side of the photo. The lookout is on a slightly lower but more open summit.
My mom enjoying the view just outside the lookout.
Frosty windows.
Cool (or cold!) window frost formations.

Here's a great website explaining all about frost and the like: Window frost forms when a pane of glass is exposed to below-freezing temperatures on the outside and moist air on the inside. Water vapor from the air condenses as frost on the inside surface of the window. Window frost often makes elaborate patterns as the crystal growth is strongly influenced by the window surface. Scratches, residual soap streaks, etc., can all change the way the crystals nucleate and grow.