Summer might be the best time to get outdoors and enjoy what the mountains have to offer in our amazing backyard in Canada. In recent years, ski resorts in British Columbia have made a series of additions, upgrades and updates to have family friendly activities for adults and the little’s as well as keeping the hardcore activities available for the summer thrill seeker.
Summer is a great time to escape the hustle and city bustle, to relax and recharge. The tranquility of fishing will help those kids forget all about the stress of making the grade at school and will help you take a real mental vacation from work. Fishing provides kids (of all ages) a great lesson about being calm and one with nature in an authentic environment. More information about fishing in Fernie is on the Tourism Fernie website.
- Take a Hike
No, we’re not telling you to get lost, but we are literally telling you to take a hike. Fernie, Kimberley and Kicking Horse all offer hiking in a mountain setting with amazing views at Fernie and Kicking Horse the lift accessed hiking provides some epic views you won’t on any regular old hike. For more information about hiking in mountain towns visit the Tourism Fernie, Tourism Golden or Tourism Kimberley websites and for more information about lift accessed resort hiking visit the Fernie Alpine Resort or Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- See a real bear up close (and learn too)
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects at Kicking Horse is Boo the Bear who lives year round at the resort and has made a name for himself as a local celebrity. Boo has an interesting story of how he ended up making his home at Kicking Horse, in the largest protected Grizzly Bear habitat in the world. While living at the resort he’s offered us humans a rare and special opportunity to learn about the life and practices of Grizzly Bears. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy taking a Grizzly Bear Interpretive tour and learning about his life at the horse! Get more information about Boo and Interpretive tours on the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
- Monkey Around
The Aerial Park at Fernie Alpine Resort is a good introduction to find out how the little’s in your family feel about heights. They can try out the free kids aerial park, or if they meet the height restrictions can venture up in the trees. The lesson beforehand from our knowledgeable guides and extensive safety system will allow them to feel safe while far away from the ground! If you have a very adventurous little one (who is at least 10), use the Aerial Park as a stepping stone to trying the Via Ferrata at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Get more information and book the Aerial Park on the Fernie Alpine Resort website.
- Explore historic towns
Many towns in British Columbia have a strong history in mining and have museums or memorials in town to commemorative and conserve the memories. Along with learning about history, try out some of these unique town experiences;
- Visit Beanpod Chocolate (Canada’s Traditional Chocolate maker) in historical Downtown Fernie. Beanpod website.
- Walk the downtown platzl in Kimberley (also location of the Kimberley museum). More info.
- Walk with Wolves in Golden, a truly unique experience in the Canadian Rockies. More info.
- Visit the Heritage town – Fort Steele (near Kimberley, B.C). More info.
- Pop into the Clawhammer Press in Downtown Fernie. Clawhammer Press website.
- Take a golf lesson
Getting them started young is a great way to build impressive golf skills! Check out our websites to see about specials like ‘take a kid to the course day’, ‘family stay & play packs’ and family golf lessons. Or, if your little’s aren’t into golfing the big courses, try the Mini Putt at Riverside Campground in Kimberley.
- Sunbathe and Swim in the outdoor pools
Staying at ski resorts in the summer offers a full service experience! While many of our hotels have in house or nearby Spas to pamper, gyms to keep in shape and outdoor pools/hot tubs for the kids to keep entertained for hours! Looking for a family basecamp in Fernie – check out Lizard Creek Lodge.
- Eat all the food
It might be a bit of a hidden fact (although gaining more and more recognition), mountain towns are the best place to have great food! Each have their own unique restaurants, bars or cafes to check out – all come with an authentic mountain town vibe (guaranteed).
Here is some advice to get your mountain foodie experience started;
Food, our second favourite F word
Top 5 Places to eat in Kimberley
- Mountain Bike ON a mountain
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a great starting point to get the passion flowing for mountain biking, with a kid’s skills course in the base area set up each summer. Fernie Alpine Resort has also added a myriad of beginning trails over the last couple season to provide a gentle ride down the summer ski slopes. In addition to beginner trails, Fernie Alpine Resort along with the Fernie Trails Society and Fernie Nordic Club unveiled a new Peak to Park multi use trail last summer. Adding a different experience to the mountain biking game – ride the chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort and bike your way back down to the town. More information about mountain biking at Fernie Alpine Resort and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort can be found on our websites.
- All the best fests
What’s your jam? Outdoor music? Farmers Markets? Hardcore racing events? There is something nearly every weekend in Fernie, Kimberley or Golden. Check out the online events calendars on the resort websites or town tourism websites to find out the schedule for this summer!
Photos: @calsnape, Cali Sammel, Patrick Majer, Nick Nault and Wapiti Music Festival
One summer afternoon riding the Elk Chair for an afternoon lap on the mountain bike trails I watched as a black bear sow and two cubs, browsed peacefully for huckleberries below the lift line. At Fernie Alpine Resort you’re never far from raw nature and mountain adventure. It is the quintessential resort for summertime exploration where you can spot deer, moose, bear and other wildlife in a natural setting, hike on alpine trails waste deep in wildflowers, explore windswept ridges from mountain peak to mountain peak and test your technical mountain bike skills on steep trail or ease into some flowy singletrack. Or perhaps, you’ll simply go in search of fossils with your kids.
Enjoy breakfast and an espresso in the resort village, then load the Timber Chair, your ticket to adventure as it shuttles you from the resort village to tree line and the trailhead for numerous hikes ranging from hour long outings to full-day ridge top rambles in the beautiful Lizard Range. Families can opt to walk among the Indian paintbrush, mountain harebells, cinquefoil and other flowers towards the wooden platform overlooking the Sand Creek Valley, and descend to a field of massive boulders known as the Mammoth Droppings, before circling back to Lost Boys Cafe for lunch with an astounding view over the Elk River Valley. Ambitious hikers might choose to scramble to the height of land and traverse a scenic limestone ridge, over the rounded hump of Elephant Head and on to tag the summit of 2134-metre Polar Peak, the highest point within resort boundaries. And the even more ambitious and experienced hikers may want to tackle the Mountain Lakes Trail, otherwise known as Heiko’s Trail. Built by Fernie legend Heiko Socher, founder of Fernie Alpine Resort way back in 1964, this 21 kilometer trail between Hartley Lake Road near the resort and Island Lake Lodge crosses two mountain passes and has everything you want in a mountain hike – meadows, waterfalls, caves, snowfields, soaring rock walls and more meadows. On any of these adventures, you might even find a fossil. Fernie is famous for them, especially for the legendary jumbo ammonite measuring 1.5 metres wide, discovered in 1947 in the Coal Creek Valley across the Elk River Valley from the resort. On mountain, you can visit another Fernie legend, Nature Bob in the Interpretive Centre at the top of the Elk Chair, go on a guided hike to bone up on local flora and fauna, or take a short stroll to see an equally impressive ammonite fossil.
Lift-accessed mountain biking? You bet. Elk Chair offers up a range of easy to advanced trails while all routes from the top of Timber are advanced and technical, with rocks, roots and drops on the riding menu. The base area at Fernie is also integrated with the region’s extensive X country trail system, with pedal-from-your-condo or hotel access to many trails linking the resort to Mount Fernie Provincial Park and beyond.
Near the base area you’ll find more fun for kids and adults, with a 500 foot long zip line that has you soaring through the air with the birds, and a skill and balance-testing Aerial Park with cool features like the Rickety Bridge, Shrinking Islands and Picket Fence.
There is something special about Fernie and the Lizard Range. Skiers and boarders have been drawn by the legendary powder for decades. However in summer, it’s equally special. The mountains, made accessible by chairlifts, take on a different character. Rugged ridges, meandering trails, cool forests, and colourful meadows – it’s a place that inspires you to get out and explore, on two feet or two wheels. Take your pick.
Words: Andrew Findlay
Images: Robin Siggers, Nick Nault & Brent Grabowski
Main Image: @calsnape
While there are many, many reasons to Mountain Bike (or learn to), here are (arguably) some of the best;
1) Bragging rights and Looking Cool
Can you ride the Binlogdin Wall? Or take on Rumplestumskin, the new Duff Dynasty trail, maybe perhaps even Phat Larry’s? You’re awesome – brag it up!
2) Impress your crush
Boys, girls will be impressed with your skills and girls..boys will be SUPER impressed with your skills!
3) Skip the gym but stay in shape
Have you ever tried Mountain Biking? If you have you’ll know how hard it works your core, similar to snowboarding in the winter, so stay in shape and outside while doing so!
4) Get in a tan
Soak in the sunlight, not the fake lights – Now that you are in shape, get your tan to match that bod! (You might have to work on this during your lunch break)
5) The truth about mountain biking
The truth about mountain biking here is it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Over the last few season Fernie has made a huge effort to increase the amount of trails for the beginner and intermediate rider as well as offering a variety of lessons and brush up courses (although we still have plenty of hardcore trails for those looking for an intense ride).
6) Sun, Mountain Air, Views
A day in the Fernie bike park with the gently rolling mountain views with the town of Fernie in the distance and the sunshine on your face, is always better than a day in the city or office. Hands down. No Contest.
By Cali Sammel
Photos by Nicole Matei & Henry Georgi
Bless me Bike Park for I have sinned, it has been one week since my last Trail Crew Confession. We have been bombarded this week with requests for the inside scoop on what has been happening in the Bike Park. It feels like a public flogging some days but I assure you, it is not sloth, we are just toiling away with our heads down, eyes on the prize only a short few days away. We are proud to say this will be the most legendary summer at Fernie Alpine Resort yet.
The Bike Crew set forth unto the mountain this week with a solid schedule of machine and hand work but our plans quickly changed. Unfortunately, we were plagued by machine issues and lost a few discouraging days waiting for parts. Rising above our wrath, the time out enabled our crew to chase the Timber side snowline. Our alpine trails are usually out of consideration this early in the season as deep snowpack and heavy blow down can take weeks to mitigate. But, with newly found “free time”, we headed up, shovels and snow pants in hand. Discouragement soon turned to lusting about rousing these epic trails back to life from their winter sleep and we began digging. The drier sections received some detailed buffing, with most of our focus being on the middle section of Rumplestumpskin. Looks like we will be able to offer TNT, Rumplestumpskin, and Bike Thief for the first time ever on opening weekend.
As we speak, the mini hoe is back in service and working in the rain to cut the last new stretch on Mr. Berms. What now looks like a swath of destruction will start coming together this week as hand crews move in to shape the lips and berms. A sneak peak at the new work left the Bike Team wiping drool from our dirt stained faces, lusting on who will get the first ride. We love a loamy single track descent here at Fernie Alpine Resort, but this new machine made trail will be manageable for less confident riders to access Eville and Honey Bee yet will still allow advanced riders to “flow and show” their way to base.
The crew has also been greedily fixing a few of our own personal arch nemesis sections of trail – confident that if it bugs us – it bugs you too. There is a small route change to the Deer Trail around a previously rooty and eroded fall line section. We continue to pick away at repairing some other tired sections of trails as well. Alternate Flight Pattern needed dirt work and root removal; there is new rock armoring additions in some chronic bomb holes; and the usual minor wood work repairs to old technical terrain features. As always, we are on a mission to ensure the trails at FAR are sustainable; able to handle high levels of traffic though out the dry season and, of course, ensuring your #ferniestoke meter is revving on high all season.
On another unusual, but very cool note, deep, late melting snow packs are holding grizzly bears lower down in the valley than usual this time of year. It is hard not to be envious of them watching us from the ski runs, lazing in the hot summer sun, gorging their furry bellies on dandelions. We are kicking it into high gear with just two weeks until opening day. Taking a lesson from these gluttonous bears as we too, fill our bellies and fuel our muscles for the final trail work assault.
Hopefully, our hard work this week is retribution for the lack of Bike Park updates and photo posts. We look forward to seeing your rejoicing dirty grins in BOTH our lift lines on June 28th, 2014. This mountain is our church, biking is our religion, and for all you fellow believers… welcome home.
Your Fernie Alpine Resort Bike Crew
Another push of the pedal, another turn of the cranks, a well oiled chain, and the bike park gears keep going. Your FAR Bike Crew is ardently back in the saddle …spinning our wheels getting this place ready for another awesome opening day on June 28th, 2014. Like pro cyclists who spend years perfecting their pedal stroke, until all phases seamlessly blend together into a powerful semblance of efficient energy, we too are just hitting our best stride.
Each season we draft behind the triumphs of previous summers, note and swerve around the mistakes, then charge forward in our Bike Crew peloton towards that famous “Legendary” acclamation. Our crew embarked on a not so glamorous ‘drainage campaign’ last year and the results have paid off. After a solid week of spring trail inspections, I am proud (and relieved) to say that things are looking pretty good out there. This translates into the ability for our team to hammer forward on some detailed maintenance we have been longing to complete and, furthermore, to add a few new projects our guests have been begging for.
With two weeks until the lifts start spinning, our preparation plan is as follows. Mr Berms has been totally rebuilt and moved into the newly gladed tree island under the Elk Chair. We have reduced the grade, added some flow, and look ahead to a much smoother, and more sustainable trail surface. There is an improved access from Mr. Berms over to Eville and Honey Bee via the “Hurtin’ Albertan” connection on Hornet. Further to that; we have built an entirely new trail from the Bear Chair load elevation to the base area (our crew is calling it Duff Dynasty but who knows if that yellow jersey will stick). In addition, we have reworked Ben’s Big Rig to mellow the fall away sections and improve the berm to berm rail-ability for those cruising with more speed. These upgrades will promote progression within our bike park and open up a whole new network of creative trail to trail connection options.
With this steady cadence, a solid pit crew of dedicated employees, and the co-operation of our best friend – Mother Nature, it looks like a clear race to the finish line. As tired muscles become the norm, hands thicken with calloused palms, and dirt tattooes into skin, we settle into our bike crew niche and keep pedaling to deliver your Legendary Summer 2014.
Your Fernie Alpine Resort Bike Crew