Articles about Fernie and Fernie Alpine Resort
Here in Fernie, 2018 has started with a perfect combo for skiers- new snow & warm temps! Our holiday gift of snow arrived over Christmas & New Year’s creating a winter wonderland.
Now is the most amazing time of the year at Fernie Alpine Resort. Start 2018 off the right way with Mountain Time!
We’re in deep – with some of the deepest snow in North America right in our backyard- this season kicked into high gear with record setting early snow – our total snowfall to date is over 14 ft with over 45 cms of fresh pow in the last week!
More presents coming soon! Skiers and riders celebrate as the winter 2018 storm track is focused on the Powder Highway region. Weather forecasts show more snow on the way this weekend
Take your own turns in the Winter Wonderland with special offer vacation packages. Book now as the insiders will tell you that January is one of the best months to ski!
Fernie is a winter wonderland in more ways than one this holiday season! Sure, there’s the legendary annual snowfall and seemingly unlimited terrain but there are also many cheer-filled events coming to the resort just in time for the holidays.
There’s nothing quite like an old-school scenic sleigh ride to make you feel jolly. With friendly horses and a comfy sleigh that winds through the majestic forests surrounding Fernie Alpine Resort, this is a sure-fire way to get you into the Christmas spirit. From December 21 to January 5, sleigh rides will be running daily between 12 and 7 p.m. for $15 a person. If a private evening sleigh ride is more your speed, then group bookings can be made at Guest Services for groups of up to 11 people. This blissful and relaxing outdoor activity is a great way to kickoff the holidays.
And the fun most certainly doesn’t stop there. Saint Nick himself will be making a special visit to Fernie Alpine Resort for two days on December 23 and 24. He heard how great the skiing is and couldn’t resist a last minute stopover in Fernie before his big night. You can hit the slopes with Santa between 10 a.m. and noon and then head into the daylodge to tell the man in the jolly red suit your wishlist as you pose for a photo. He’ll be in the daylodge until 2 p.m. so you can be sure to snag a photo either the traditional way or in our new Santa photo booth! Elves will be on hand to email the pictures free of charge.
This holiday season is jam-packed with particularly fun activities for the little ones (aged 6-12). The Griz Kidz Holiday Program will keep the kids busy and give the parents some time to get the Christmas shopping done! The activities cost $5 per child but you can book any five Griz Kidz activities for only $20. One of those could be the Crafty Kidz nights on
December 22 and January 1 where parents can drop the little rippers off for some supervised craft time. Another could be building gingerbread houses on December 27 or even the mini carnival on the 29th. If you’ve got an aspiring snowboarder in the family, you don’t want to miss the Burton Riglet Snowboard Demo on Boxing Day. With a costume party on January 2, cooking night on January 3 and a games night on the 5th, your little tyke will have plenty to keep them occupied over the school break. All Griz Kids holiday events run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and registration can be done through Guest Services.
Another way to keep the kids busy this holiday season is with the Kids Christmas Ski & Board Camp. For only $269, kids from ages 6-12 and of all riding abilities will get three full days of on-mountain instruction from our expert instructors. The camp runs from December 26-29 and will focus on skill development, guided discovery of the mountain and of course, fun! Contact the Winter Sports School to sign up today.
For starry fun for all ages, hit up the Mighty Moose for a moonlit ski on December 23 and 24 as well as from December 26 to January 6 between 4-9 p.m. Bring the whole family out for some evening turns on the Mighty Moose and remember, your day pass is valid for night skiing as well! Otherwise, tickets can be purchased for $19.95 plus tax for adults and free for everyone under 17 years old. This is a great way to get all that you can out of your day pass and is especially great if you’re just not ready to stop riding at 4 o’clock!
Finally, one the most exciting nights of the year is celebrated across the globe and Fernie is no exception! New Years Eve is a chance to start-over, make some changes, or just continue living the great life that you do. Either way, we want to celebrate another year of awesomeness with you! Bring the whole family down to our New Years Eve party to enjoy a number of free and fun activities. Everything kicks off at 7 p.m. with arts and crafts, a photo booth and more in the plaza area. The night culminates with a dazzling display of fireworks over the Mighty Moose at 9 p.m. If you parents out there aren’t quite ready to end your night off so early, drop the kiddies off at the Griz Kidz New Years Eve party, but remember to sign up first.
Little Griz Kidz will have a pizza party, dancing, games, snacks, fireworks, and a movie (with popcorn, of course) just for them on New Years Eve at the Griz Kidz New Years Eve Party. This particular party is a paid event and requires pre-registration at Guest Services so make sure to book your spot! Kids 6 and up are invited to this fully supervised event, with two different options. Drop the kids off early (6 p.m.) or attend the family party together and then drop them off a little later (9:30 p.m.). The professional staff will keep your children safe and happy until 12:30 a.m. so you can ring in the New Year in style!
So, like we said, there are tons of events to help you get in the Christmas spirit at Fernie Alpine Resort this year. We hope to see you on the slopes!
Welcome back Fernie!
Another year of unbelievable powder and excellent riding is off to a flying start. Opening day saw people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities hit the slopes at Fernie Alpine Resort and it was nothing but smiles, some new and some familiar in the line-ups on Deer and Elk chairs Saturday morning before the line drop.
Excitement was in the air as campers yawned and crawled out of their tents and early birds met them in the maze. Even the Griz made an appearance and managed to grab the second Elk chair of the season, after stirring up some buzz in the crowd of course. As the minutes, and then the seconds ticked towards nine o’clock, voices swelled in a giant countdown. Five… Four… Three… Two… ONE!
After first chair, the smiles got even bigger as skiers and boarders discovered a snowy powder paradise in Cedar Bowl. With five lifts and approximately 35 runs open on opening day, everyone was happy with the conditions and chomping at the bit to explore the rest of the mountain.
Lucky for them, we can announce that the Timber Bowl Express, White Pass chair, and Moose slope will be opening on Saturday! Get ready to head over to see what the new side has to offer in terms of early season snow or learn some turns on our beginner slopes. After less than a week, we can now boast 65 open runs and that number is sure to sky-rocket on Saturday.
And that’s not the only new and exciting thing coming up this week. Fernie Alpine Resort has a new destination for delicious dining and it’s opening Friday, December 8th at 11 a.m!
Legends Mountain Eatery is new to the resort this year and we couldn’t be more excited to explore their scrumptious menu of daring and dazzling food. Located in the plaza, this mountain eatery is both convenient and comforting. Make sure to stop in and give it a try, that is if you can tear yourself away from the mountain long enough to grab a bite to eat!
Although you’ll certainly see many familiar faces among the staff at Fernie Alpine Resort this season, we also want to welcome hundreds of new staff members to our team! These are the people that work hard to make sure you have the best possible time skiing, riding, and relaxing in Fernie so show them some love.
With good vibes and even better snow, we couldn’t have asked for a better kick off to the 2017/2018 winter season. We hope to see you on the slopes!
Photos by: Steve Reed and Fernie Alpine Resort
“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!
NEW this summer – a trail running weekend clinic just for the ladies, so grab your girls and join us at Lizard Creek Lodge for a weekend full of fitness, fun, relaxation and girl time! Hosted by Magi Scallion, an avid trail running with a special fondness for flowy trails, Magi has represented Canada internationally in trail running as well as cross country skiing. Now sharing her passion for trail running through retreats, clinics and camps – this clinic will cover uphill and downhill running technique, program design and general running form. Stay at Lizard Creek Lodge, located at the base area of beautiful Fernie Alpine Resort, you’ll enjoy your stay in your comfortable room and meals provided by Cirque Restaurant (located in the lodge). Also at Lizard Creek Lodge is an indoor gym and outdoor pool/hot tub for an end of the day soak.
The clinic will run from September 8th – 10th, included in your fee is your accommodations, trail running clinics, welcome wine & cheese as well as all other meals, a yoga class and a massage. Now that sounds like a perfect girls weekend!
Click the booking link for pricing information and to register!
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.
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.
Considered by many of our staff to be the hidden gem of the resort, the Skeleton Flats / Summer Road loop takes hikers on a 4km loop through the stunning Lizard Bowl.
Beginning on the Summer Road trail at the top of the Elk Chair, hikers steadily climb (16% grade, 345 m elevation gain) a wide road with panoramic views of the city of Fernie and surrounding peaks before reaching the Lizard Bowl Observation Deck. Interpretive signs line the viewing platform and explain some of the historic features of the area.
Continuing further up trail, hikers will make two scenic road switchbacks before reaching a trail junction. From this point, hikers may choose to either ascend via the Skeleton Flats trail (and descend the Summer Road at the end of the hike) or continue up the Summer Road and complete the loop in reverse down the Skeleton Flats trail. Both options are equally as rewarding. The Skeleton Flats trail climbs through the Dancer avalanche path to reach a stunning sub-alpine meadow exploding with wildflowers. Of interesting note are large timber debris piles and trees which have been broken or become bent over as a result of powerful winter avalanches. Hikers may notice the large ‘caves’ or sinkholes, many of which have been filed in with large boulders for safety. These are formed by the easily dissolveable limestone rock which make up the Lizard Range, known as Karst topography.
The trail then begins its traverse across the top of the Lizard Bowl. Keep your eyes on the rocky headwalls for white mountain goats, as they are often spotted here! As you approach the Bear Chair unload, a marked Fossil Zone presents an exceptional rock wall, hosting a variety of ancient sea floor life fossils.
The top of the Bear Chairlift marks the junction with the Summer Road trail and the descent back down to the Elk Chair. Moose, bears, deer, ground squirrels, and even badgers can often be viewed here. Be sure to stop by the Nature Bob’s Interpretive Centre located at the top of the Elk Chair to learn more about the flora, fauna, and fossils that make Fernie unique or to discover more hiking options at the resort.
Blog & Photos by Nicole Matei
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.”