Come and join the Family Scavenger Hunt, a fun on-mountain activity for the whole family.
Friday 27th December
Friday 3rd January
The clues will lead you to areas on-mountain and around the base area. Find as many clues as you can and take photo evidence of you & your family. Don’t forget to tag your photo to #lovefernie
Pick up your FREE Scavenger Hunt card from the Plaza between 9:00-10:30am or anytime from Guest Services.
Join us for Apres at Slopeside cafe anytime between 2:30-4:00pm, redeem your scavenger hunt card and be in the chance to win prizes!
Fun on-mountain activity for the whole family, a great way to explore Fernie Alpine Resort.
Thursday 26th December
Thursday 2nd January
Complete a run on the bingo card, take a picture of you & your family on the run (try to include the run name in your photo if possible) and mark it off. Aim to complete 5 in a row on the bingo card – vertical, horizontal or diagonal. Tag your photo to #lovefernie
Pick up your FREE bingo card from the Plaza between 9:00-10:30am or anytime from Guest Services.
Join us for Apres at Slopeside cafe anytime between 2:30-4:00pm, redeem your bingo card and be in the chance to win prizes!
On Sunday, January 12, 2020, Fernie Alpine Resort will say ‘Thank You’ to local communities by offering a FREE day of skiing and riding to the residents of the Elk Valley – Fernie, Elko, Elkford, Grasmere, Jaffray and Sparwood as part of the annual Community Appreciation Day.
Please note that Photo ID and proof of local residency (driver’s license, pay stub, utility bill, etc.) are required to receive the lift ticket. Tickets are only valid on January 12 and snow checks will not be issued on complimentary tickets.
Complimentary tickets are available to Elk Valley Residents only. Cranbrook and area residents are welcome to enjoy Community Appreciation Day at Kimberley Alpine Resort on January 12, 2020.
A fundraising BBQ will also be held on Community Day, with all proceeds going towards a local charity, Fernie Friends for Friends. Community members can pick up a voucher that is valid for a discounted BBQ item in the daylodge.
In addition, Fernie Alpine Resort is inviting Elk Valley Residents that are brand new to the sport of skiing or snowboarding to enjoy a complimentary Telus Learn to Ski or Snowboard beginner group lesson on January 12 as part of the Community Day festivities. There will be ten adult and ten child spots available for a complimentary beginner group lesson, complete with lift tickets and rentals. Advance registration is required and will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Registration for the Telus Learn to Ski/Snowboard lessons can be booked at Guest Services Snow School Desk or by calling 250-423-2406.
PLUS! Sports Alpine has a special sale for you on Community Day. On January 12th only – 25% off on outerwear and mid-layers!
The Jeep Summit Squad will be on the mountain this weekend as well – so be sure to stop by their Jeep tent in the plaza for some goodies!
A HUGE THANKS GOES OUT TO OUR BBQ SPONSORS FOR THEIR SUPPPORT!
– Ace Bakery
– Cardinal Foods
“HOLD TIGHT, FÉLIX! WE’RE COMING TO GET YOU!”
“I’M IN DEEP! BUT I’VE STILL GOT ONE SKI.”
“10-4! WE’RE ON OUR WAY. RESCUE MISSION INITIATED!”
The nine-year-old boys climb up the mountain through hip-deep snow to save Félix. In reality, they’re directly under the Bear Chair, and they climb about five yards, but in their imaginations they’re deeply immersed in a backcountry survival situation.
Sadly, I see mere snippets of the mission on a shoddy helmet-cam recording. I missed their remote, life-and-death adventure entirely. Why? Because I had the brainstorm of not getting a season’s ski pass that year. Here’s my logic: I’m the hockey mom so that sport takes me away from Fernie a few weekends. I work in Alberta so lose other potential ski days there. I decided “it’s not worth it.” Or more precisely, I decided I am not worth it. Everyone else in my family has a season’s pass, even if they don’t make it up to the hill every weekend.
When I saw that video of my favourite nine-year-old boys, rosy cheeked and fired-up on adventure, I wished I’d been there. After two years with no ski pass, I’m declaring project No-Pass a failed experiment.
Because you know what happens when I don’t have a season’s pass? I don’t go skiing. In the morning, I decide I should wait until after lunch and get the half-day rate. Already I’ve missed the best part of the day: fresh powder. By noon, while the rest of my family flies high, energized by fresh air and exercise, I’m hitting the post-lunch lethargy. So I decide maybe I’d better stay home instead: there’s laundry to do, emails to answer. When the family comes in at 4:30 giggling about a day of snow fun, I’m grouchy because I’ve spent the afternoon folding clothes and scanning social media. But I’ve saved money!
That saved money will not be what I remember when my kids have grown and gone.
My husband always tells me: “You’re not supposed to think about getting a season’s ski pass. It’s the Fernie Fun Tax. Like any tax, you pay it and then you forget about it until the next year.” He has paid his Fernie Fun Tax every year since 1995. He has never once regretted it.
He’s right. In two years, I missed many fun days on the hill. Katie’s first ski race. Crazy Helmet Day. Ollie’s first black diamond run. Pink-clad Katie straight-lining full speed into the SLOW sign (I know, ski patrol friends, not funny, totally not, obviously).
This year my experiment draws to a close. When it comes to Ski Fernie, I am all in: season’s pass, priority parking, new gear. When my kids look back on their 2018 ski season, I will be woohooing my way down Red Tree right beside them. I can’t wait.
See you up there, Fernie Friends!
Photos by Powder Matt, Rob Heule & Mark Eleven Photography
There are places that call themselves 5 star campsites. Have you ever been to a campsite that gives you 5 marvelous experiences with you starring in them? Fernie Alpine Resort mountain top camping did that for a group of 3 of us. We had arrived at the base of Fernie Alpine Resort. Cory, Cennia and myself. We were met by the resort staff that was going to aid us during our stay. Nels, Dini and Kelly. It was 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon. The weather hot and dry. The resort base was filled with people. Some milling about, others heading off to do summer activities that the resort had to offer. Like biking, hiking and sightseeing. We were about to do a night of camping on top of the world. Dini had checked us in and issued us our lift tickets. Nels chatted us up with the lay of the land and what to expect. Kelly and others helped unpack our gear from the car and load it into the suburban. Our camping gear was to take the mountain road up. We were to take the Timber Express chairlift up.
THE LIFT RIDE UP
Nels and Dini walked us to the Timber Express chairlift. Cennia requested to go up the chairlift first by herself. She wanted to take pictures with her new Cannon camera. Cory and I were to follow. As the chairlift scooped us up, Cory said “Here we go”. At that moment, the chairlift swept us upwards, grabbing our bodies with a mild force. I saw a rush of excitement in Cory’s eyes. Seconds later he was exclaiming, “I have never been on a chairlift before!” “Has this got your adrenalin up?” I asked him as the swing of the chair ended. “Oh Yeah”, he replied in an affirmative voice. We settled into the ride up while admiring the breathtaking 360 degree view. The chairlift climbed higher and higher. Up and over the light green vegetation we rode. Over the tall dark evergreen trees we sailed. We spoke enthusiastically at the changing terrain and distance below our feet. “This is awesome”, Cory stated. After eleven minutes of riding up we arrived at the mountain top campground area.
THE LOST BOYS CAFÉ & OUR CAMPSITE
Disembarking from the chairlift, we headed over to the Lost Boys Café. A mountain-top café with an outside deck. It was the central location of the mountain top campground with secluded camping spots near it. As we entered the Lost Boys Café, Dini offered us cold refreshments. We each took one and walked out on to the deck. An impressive spectacular view of looking down into the Elk Valley was before us. The miniature town of Fernie below with lines in the valley floor that were roads. This was an amazing vantage point. Nels, took us to the deck railing and told us about the valley and a little bit of its history. He pointed across to the tops of other mountain peaks giving us their names. Cennia was taking pictures with her new camera. It was all so peaceful and serene. Next we sat in large chairs taking in all the majestic scenery, chatting and enjoying the hot summer day. The deck had a metal fireplace with no fire. There was a ban on open fires due to a hot and dry summer in the region. That was OK. The place was fully licensed and the staff attended to all our needs. It was time to head over to our campsite and set it up, a two minute walk away. There we unpacked our gear and everyone pitched in to set up our tent. I remember Dini getting the tent rods ready and Kelly orchestrating the rise of the tent. Nels handing out the tent pegs. Tap, tap, tap went the hammer on the tent pegs. Everybody pitched in and within 15 minutes our campsite was set up. It was in a clearing on a small plateau nestled in by two giant mountain rock pinnacles called Mammoth Peak and Elephant Head. Mammoth Peak still with a small patch of snow in a shaded area. A picnic table was next to the tent plot. Green vegetation spread out from the plot to the base of the rock pinnacles and surrounding tree lines. It was a fantastic camping spot. This was where we were going to spend the night under a full thunder moon.
THE GUIDED HIKE
After enjoying the campsite for a while, we headed back to the Lost Boys Café for refreshments. There we relaxed and again enjoyed ourselves on the deck of Lost Boys Café. We were going to explore. Visit the Lost Boys Lookout and travel over ancient sea beds uncovering fossils of ancient times. Not before long we were on our way. Parts of some trails were lined with a strings of rocks on each side. Other parts had lush leaves, flowers and bushes along the path. We hiked though sections with trees aligning the path. Hiking up some and hiking down some. Nels and Dini would take turns narrating as we went along. Dini would point to some of the floral and tells us their names, explaining which one bloomed early and which would bloomed late. Nels with history lessons about the mountain and why the rocks were upside down in this area called the lizard range. All our questions being answered as we hiked along. We learned that the bottom branches on the trees that started high up from the ground was because that was how high the snow fell in winter. The Lost Boys Lookout was breathtaking with yet another stunning view of the valley. I even collected an ancient fossil along the way. All in all is was a sensational hike.
THE PREPARED DINNER
We returned to the Lost Boys Café to relax, drink and mingle. Entering the café, I now saw a table set with white plates, wine glasses and silverware. It was a setting for 6. A barbecued dinner was being prepared for us. Kelly, Dini, and Nels were to join Cennia, Cory and myself for a delicious dinner. I realized we all were enjoying each other’s company and this was going to be a fabulous way to have a camping trip meal. Cory said, “This is great, we didn’t have to pack any food”. Dini and Kelly brought in the food from the deck and then we all sat down. The meal was barbecued steak. Skewers with vegetables roasted over the barbecue. Potatoes baked in the barbecue and a fresh green tossed salad. We dug in, dressing our plates with all the goodies that was set before us. Chatter was going around the table. Drinks being poured with the light clanking sounds of dinner ware. We were festive, enjoying a grand camping feast on a mountain top. The view as we ate was remarkable. The sun was about to set and I reminded Cennia that she wanted to get a picture of the Sun setting from the mountain top. She slipped away for a minute and did just that. After the meal we relaxed back on the deck. Telling each other stories about events in our lives. What a great day so far we all had. About an hour later we headed back to the campsite.
THE MOUNTAIN NIGHT
When I returned to the campsite it was dark, however there was just enough light to make out where you walked without a flash light. No open fire was allowed. The three of us sat at the picnic table, reflecting on the day’s events together. It was about 11:30 pm when the most spectacular thing happened. The moon started to crest over the pinnacle of Mammoth Peak. As it moved up I could see tiny black outlines of trees in its cresting circle. I gaped at it, feeling how lucky I was to witness on a mountain top, this thunder moon. As I stared at it I could see it slowly rising. Its glowing circle becoming full as it ascended up and over the mountain peak. Higher and higher it climbed into the night sky. What an awesome way to end night.
I woke up early and wanted to catch the sun rise from the Lost Boys Café deck. I got there just in time to take a picture. A tranquil peaceful morning was taking shape. Soon Dini and the others arrived. A tasty breakfast was served and by 10:00 am we had all our gear packed up and headed down the mountain via the chairlift. Like the mild grabbing force of the chairlift the mountain top adventure had grabbed me. Like the amazing vantage point at the Lost Boy’s Café, I was amazed with what I saw and experienced. Like the history lesson, I learned of new friendships with the staff. Like the festive meal, the camping was joyful and hearty. Like the full moon, the camping trip had thunder!
My family loves touring new towns on our bikes and the best loops always include at least one playground, a bike park, a stop for ice-cream, and a spot to cool off. Fernie has all of that in a short 8 to 15 km loop (depending on which trails you link together.)
The Main Town Loop combines several easy trails that are all relatively flat. As a family, you will enjoy pleasant trail riding on well-maintained gravel or dirt paths. Most of the loop is double track and Chariot-friendly as well. The only challenging sections for us have been on the Old Stumpy Trail (which can be bypassed.)
The loop can be started at multiple locations downtown Fernie but we like to start at the dirt jump and skills park beside the aquatic centre and spray park on the corner of Pine Ave & Ridgemont Drive. We play at the bike park to warm up on the pump track and jumps, and then visit the spray park at the end to cool off. There’s also a short beginner mountain bike loop located behind the dirt jump park that helps kids gain an easy introduction to single track riding.
Once you’ve managed to convince the kids to leave the bike park, cross Ridgemont Drive and find the trailhead for the Kootenay Elk Trail. This easy trail poses no challenges as it crosses over a boardwalk and small wetland area (image shown). You’ll soon reach a junction for the Old Stumpy Trail and the Downtown Connector Trail. The connector trail makes a beeline for Maiden Lake and is the easy trail option. At the lake you’ll find a small rocky beach area and a great spot for a dip in the cool water if you’ve packed swim suits with you.
If you’re up for a challenge, take the Old Stumpy Trail and Great Northern Trail for a longer loop to Maiden Lake. This extension has some tricky spots and you’ll have to walk bikes when you come to a few short sets of stairs. Regardless of the technical bits on Old Stumpy, it’s a beautiful trail with an “old growth forest” feeling to it. It’s also a short ride until you reach the much easier Great Northern Trail which parallels the Elk River.
Once you’ve reached Maiden Lake, the riding gets extremely easy for a while as you continue on the Emily Brydon Trail along the Elk River and connect to the Dogwood Trail heading for the town Boat Launch. Shortly after the boat launch, go around the corner and then cross a small bridge. Here you’ll get on the Brewery Creek Trail heading for an old barn (main/top image). The bike tour ends with a short introductory section on the Coal Creek Heritage Trail (where you probably won’t want to be wearing white shoes since the trail is practically made of coal dust!)
You’ll end up back at the aquatic centre from where it’s a short drive or bike ride over to the Happy Cow Ice-Cream Store off Highway 3 (between 5th and 6th Street.)
Progressions for easy – intermediate family mountain biking
Once the kids have cut their teeth on the Town Loop, it’s time to move on to some other great intro-trails that are a bit more technical and offer a “real” mountain biking experience.
The Coal Creek Heritage Trail – This trail is divided into two sections, The Lower Coal Creek Heritage Trail and the East Coal Creek Heritage Trail. We rode a 9 km section of the trail and started from the “Townsite” parking lot on the East part of the trail. To find the parking lot, drive 6.3 km up Coal Creek Road from town, turn left at the bridge onto First Creek Rd. and look for the Trailhead Kiosk, 3 km further along on the left.
This is a classic “truck drop” ride (meaning, you drive up, drop the kids off, and they bike back down to town.) Either arrange the ride with a shuttle or plan to have an adult bike back up for the vehicle (as we did) because making the kids ride UP Coal Creek would not be a lot of fun for anybody. Fortunately, the bike park and spray park are right at the end of the trail so kids will not be bored while they wait for somebody to go fetch the truck.
While this is considered a “beginner” trail, I was pretty new to mountain biking when we rode it and I had to walk a few hills. Gears and hand brakes are imperative for safety and enjoyment on the ride.
The Lazy Lizard Trail – This is Fernie’s star trail for family mountain biking and is another popular “truck drop” for children who prefer riding downhill without a lot of climbing.
Start at Island Lake Lodge on the Upper Lazy Lizard Trail and descend down to the entrance of Mount Fernie Provincial Park on the Lower Lazy Lizard Trail (image shown). The trail winds through an old growth cedar forest with fun boardwalks and bridges. Expect smooth, even grades, with berms on the corners and wide bridges to ensure nobody falls in the creek. The trail is 9 km long and loses 500+ metres of height (why you probably will not ride it up with the kids.) Let the children enjoy the fun flowy descent and then send somebody back up for the vehicle while you play in the creek with the kids in the provincial park.
Montane Trails – The Montane area has a bunch of new trails, starting from the old barn/coal creek bridge. On these trails you’ll be rewarded with great views of the Lizard range, Mt Fernie and the 3 sisters.
And I’ve had two separate families tell me how much they love the new Montane Blue for Evyr Trail, a fairly easy section of the loop above. The ride can be completed by riding on Montane, a double track trail and a smooth easy ride.
Biking the Ridgemont Trails with Older Kids and Teens – For families ready to move on to some solid intermediate trails, Ridgemont has plenty to offer with hill climbs, fun downhill riding, flowy corners, obstacles and beautiful scenery.
Head up Cemetery bi-pass (image shown) and continue on to the junction where ‘KiddieUp’ is the middle of 3 trails that branch off. It is full of easy switchbacks to keep the grade bikeable for the young ones, and give them plenty of practice cornering. To complete a loop take a right onto the logging road, and about 200m down you can take another right onto ‘What’s up Doc”.
For something longer and more challenging, you could put together nearly any combination to make an excellent loop. Cemetery Bypass, Kiddie Up, Queen V, Ecoterrorist, Eric’s Trail, and Broken Hip are all intermediate trails that are popular with families riding with older children and teens.
Information on all trails here can be found on the Trail Forks website.
Progressing to Downhill Mountain Biking at Fernie Alpine Resort
Register for a Kids Freeride Mountain Bike Camp and let professional coaches introduce the kids to lift-accessed downhill riding at Fernie Alpine Resort.
The theme of the camps is “Teaching kids to ride hard and safe.” In the camps, kids learn basic downhill riding skills, gain confidence, learn to ride steep lines and to tackle challenging terrain at the resort. Discounted lift tickets and bike rentals are available for camp participants.
The resort will be holding four camps this summer for kids ages 8 – 16 and each camp runs for two consecutive days mid-week. Meanwhile, mom and dad will find no shortage of entertainment at the resort’s bike park. Adult lessons are also offered including the brand new mid-week Trail Warrior Camps for adults. These 3-day camps are designed for cross country riders interested in developing downhill bike skills.
My family has a gigantic list of trails we want to ride this summer so we’ll see you out there with huge smiles on our faces. My 8 year old (below) will be leading the way and will be yelling back at me to stay on my bike and to stop wussing out on every corner. 😉
Special thanks to Leanne Nanninga and Coleen Hughes for contributing to this story with trail suggestions, route information, and photos.
Ask any Fernie resident why they chose to settle down in the mountain town and they’ll tell you they stayed for the summer. It’s a cliché, but it’s true—the season of long, sunny days is when everyone heads outside to mountain bike, fly fish, canoe or lace up the boots for a hike.
The backcountry in this corner of B.C. is gorgeous, with wildflower meadows, ancient cedar forests and imposing limestone peaks. Here are the best trails—and epic picnic spots—for getting your Rocky Mountain high in Fernie.
Polar Peak Loop
Lift-assisted hiking at Fernie Alpine Resort is a great ROI—you gain altitude without breaking a sweat, and get to spend more time savouring the views. This five-kilometre round-trip trail is arguably one of the best—and most challenging—hikes in the region once the snow melts from the Lizard Range crest. Ride up Timber Chair and then walk up the access road toward Polar Peak. At the saddle, turn left and begin the trail, a thrilling ridge traverse where intrepid hikers navigate sections of rocky outcrops using a cable. The 360-degree views from this hair-raising hike are spectacular—to the west, the shimmering expanse of Lake Koocanusa; to the east, downtown Fernie and the Flathead Mountains. If you’re brave, peek over the cliff walls to see where all that snow gets blasted during winter avalanche control.
Lost Boys Loop
Berry picking, boulder scrambling, and great views of Fernie far below—this hike has it all. As a bonus, the Lost Boys Loop is perfect for families, and we’ve hiked it with our kids a number of times. From the top of Timber Chair, the 1.7-kilometre trail descends through dense forest to the Mammoth Droppings, a cluster of limestone boulders that have toppled down from Mammoth Peak, part of the Lizard Range. From there, the path climbs 100 metres to the Lost Boys Lookout for views of alpine meadows and the Elk River down in the valley. Don’t forget to look for ripe huckleberries, and fossils embedded in slabs of limestone, along the way.
This momentous day hike, also called the Mountain Lakes Trail, tackles 20 kilometres and crosses three mountain passes in the remote backcountry between the trailhead off the Hartley Creek Road and its terminus at Island Lake Lodge. The trek is a stunner because of its diversity—in a nine-hour day we ascended through a rainforest, watched a waterfall explode out of a hole in the side of a cliff, explored a cave and gained a total of 1,200 metres elevation. I’m not gonna lie—the final five clicks down to Island Lake Lodge felt like a slog. But I will say this: beer on a sunny patio never tasted so good!
Old Growth Trail
Ancient cedar trees, giant moss-covered logs, and a wide trail that gently ascends to Island Lake are the top draws on the kid-friendly Old Growth Trail. Look for the trailhead at the 4-kilometre mark on the road that cuts through Mt. Fernie Provincial Park on its way up to Island Lake Lodge. The hike is well maintained and well marked and — important to note for children — easy! It gains just 250 metres over four kilometres. After, reward the little troopers with a canoe ride on Island Lake (rent one for an hour from the lodge), or an ice-cold lemonade on the lodge’s patio.
Best Picnic Spot
If you like lunch al fresco with alpine views, score a table on the patio at Lost Boys Café, at the top of Timber Chair at Fernie Alpine Resort. This sunny spots juts out over Timber Bowl and offers a panorama of area peaks including the Three Sisters, Mt. Fernie, Ghostrider and the Flathead Range of the Canadian Rockies across the valley. Those who prefer a little physical exertion before refueling can hike up to the top of Polar Peak for a bench break (no tables up there) with a bird’s-eye view into Fernie’s “back of beyond.”