Articles about Fernie and Fernie Alpine Resort
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.”
June 19, 2017
Let’s get ready to Rumple…. stumpskin that is! With the road to the top of the Timber chair now free of snow, crews were able to go exploring on our upper elevation trails this week. After a little bit of work tree falling and debris clearing we can now advise that Rumple, TNT, Bike Thief, and Neverland will be open top to bottom next weekend. Riders can expect to encounter a few snowy patches and early season conditions on the upper mountain trails. Last year’s new BC Cup line on Bike Thief, and the section of TNT that was closed last year for Lift Maintenance work on the White Pass Chair will re-open for this season.
And in the other corner, all Elk Side trails are also great contenders for Opening Day. Crews have been taking care of a few last minute projects and buffing out all your favorite rides this week. With close to fifty hiking and biking trails on the mountain, this is a huuuuuge task for our crew. We’ve been focusing on our heavy weight trails (Top Gun, Eville, Duff Dynasty, Bin Logdin, Deer Trail, Hollow Tree…) and are working our way through to those which receive a little less traffic. Fortunately, many of our trails, like Bin Logdin and Duff Dynasty, just needed a little tree falling, drainage clean-out, and a quick fan rake to get rid of the blow down debris.
Riders can expect great conditions on the Elk Side trails with newly worked berms and jumps perhaps riding a little soft on opening day. Take a few slow, warm-up inspection laps your first few rides to re-familiarize yourself with the lay of the land and some of the new changes in place this season.
The clock is ticking away with only five days left before lifts start spinning. Back to work!
FAR Trail Crew
‘Ralph Waldo Emerson (Poet) once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.’
-Paul Hawken (environmentalist/activist)
Luckily we don’t have to wait 1000 years to enjoy the night sky view. This summer, don’t watch tv, don’t scroll all night through Instagram and don’t stay indoors. Get outdoors and sleep the closest you can get to the stars at Fernie Alpine Resort’s quintessential mountain top camping experience.
You’ve heard of camping. And you’ve likely heard of glamping (glamorous camping). Well at Fernie Alpine Resort, we’ve taken camping/glamping to whole new heights – by putting it at the top of the mountain! That’s right – up your camping game this summer by riding the Timber Chair at Fernie Alpine Resort to the (timber bowl/lost boys café) for a camping experience unlike any other, in fact, the first lift serviced camping available in North America!
Your unique camping experience starts at 4:00 pm at base of the Timber Chair, then it’s up the lift to your camping area to set up your campsites (hosts are available to assist). After a guided hike you’ll enjoy a raclette dinner at Lost Boys Cafe followed by S’mores by the campfire. The next morning after breakfast at Lost Boys Cafe and camp clean up make your way back down the chairlift or feel free to explore the mountain more by hiking and sightseeing. The whole trip is topped off with some of the most amazing views of the Elk Valley, don’t forget to Instagram the images to create all the FOMO for all your followers!
But you don’t have to take our word for it, take this guests’ word instead!
‘We had a great time “glamping” at Fernie Alpine resort. Well organized, beautiful views, excellent food, interesting short hikes and wonderful company. The fondue dinner was really delicious and coffee and drinks on the deck at Lost Boys Café with a fire and view over Elk Valley made a perfect end of the day. It was a very easy way to get a great camping experience, enjoy the wildlife and still have the luxury of having access to very good comfort and cooked meals. We have recommended the experience to all our friends and we believe this will turn out to be one of the “musts” to do when visiting Fernie.’
Book your mountain top camping experience now!
June 11, 2017
Your home resort is always a special place. Especially when you can share it with a few thousand of your summer friends – new and old. Our Trail Crew is as diverse as our guest list these days; full of various backgrounds, abilities, and goals. We’ve all invested a little of ourselves into spring trail work this year hoping to provide a well-rounded product for everyone on opening day.
This week the focus has remained on some of our Elk Side artery trails and we have even been able to push our opening day portfolio higher up the Timber Side. Will Power – one of FAR’s original bike trails built before disc brakes, suspension, wide bars, or 27.5/29 inch wheels – picked up some substantial tree removal from the insides of the corners on the upper trail. Some of the smaller corners have been re-cribbed and filled back up to help maintain flow. We snuck the mini back into upper Mr. Berms to transplant some soil and re-shape the first right hand corner in the trees. Same goes for the Rockstar Tree Island (just above the Timber Chair Load) which also received several loads of imported fresh soil. Heavy snow load over the winter collapsed bridges on Alternate Flight Pattern and Honey Bee so those were jacked up and repaired. There is also a little work in progress on the ski run sections of Ben’s Big Rig to get those green corners back into shape for bike season.
With the snowline steadily creeping up the mountain we are now also able to offer Rumplestumpskin, Neverland, and TNT from Trespass Trail elevation to base and will likely also be able to throw Bike Thief on that list as well. While these trails will be clear of major hazards such as trees, large rocks, and washouts they will not have much fine tuning for opening weekend – be patient – we’ll get to them!
Last but not least, we have a little news to share! After our regular summer operation closing date on Sunday, September 3rd, we will be opening for
TWO BONUS WEEKENDS!!
So plan to come for some extra hiking & biking on Timber Chair on September 9 & 10 and September 1 6 & 17!
Our Trail Crew has set up an email address for you to share any ideas, concerns, or thoughts with us through the season. If you have an immediate safety concern, please let Patrol know by calling us at 250-423-2426 so we can take care of it right away. For everything else, feel free to chat with us in person at your leisure or send us a note at [email protected]
Catch you in a lucky 13 days Loam Rangers.
-The FAR Trail Crew
Photos by Nicole Matei
Rise and Shine, it’s nearly Legendary Summer time!
Our initial attack crews have been on the trails for one week now surveying the spring melt and starting to buff out some of your favourite rides. The snowline is still quite low on the mountain promising a delayed upper Timber-side bike trail opening this year but we are looking in good shape for a full Elk and lower Timber opening for June 24th, 2017.
This week Top Gun has had a total machine rebuff from top to bottom. We have also rebuilt a few nagging corners on mid-Mr. Berms and the Deer Trail. The Saw Crew has been busy clearing downed trees and summer trail signs are starting to go up! We would like to remind public to stay off the resort trails until opening day as much of our work needs time to set up in addition to large amounts of industrial activity, such as tree falling and lift maintenance work, occurring across the mountain.
See you in a few short weeks!
FAR Trail Crew
CALLING ALL LOCAL ARTISTS
…Fernie Alpine Resort is looking for an Elk Valley artist to feature their artwork on one of our terrain park rail features. The artist will be part of a “Live Painting Event” on Saturday, June 24th in the main plaza. Interested artists must submit their concept sketch by Sunday, June 18th at 5pm (MST). A panel will decide the winning design and notify the artist by 5pm (MST) on June 19th. Full details on the application and submission parameters can be found below. The winning artist will receive a prize plus exposure opportunities.
For full details, click here
I didn’t discover mountain biking until my mid-twenties. While Fernie’s epic trail network, both in town and at Fernie Alpine Resort had yet to be developed in my youth, mountain biking has become such an integral part of Fernie it’s difficult to remember it any other way.
After graduating, the lure to come home was strong. I spent every possible moment in Fernie and noticed a big change during the summer months. Bikes… they were everywhere. I decided to take a friend up on an offer to go for a ride. That friend was Emily Brydon, and she decided Verboten was great way to start (a Black Diamond at the top of Red Tree Road just off the ski hill.) A group of us rode from Timberline Village, and I was mesmerized as we crossed bowls I had only seen on skis. This feeling quickly shifted to fear and defeat as we made our way down the technical trail.
A few years later, I moved home and decided to park my car and buy a mountain bike. It was 2006, and while I still had a tremendous amount of fear, I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I fell in with a fantastic group of women who supported and pushed me and were integral to me falling in love with the sport. In August of that summer, I watched in awe as rider after rider crossed the finish line of the TransRockies and thought… I’m going to do this one day. And I did.
While I love the accomplishment of finishing a race, I get the same feeling nearly every day riding in Fernie. Trail development and enhancement has meant new entry level and flow trails are available, along with more challenging and technical rides and everything in between. I love this about mountain biking. It allows everyone to test themselves whatever age, level or style of rider, and in turn can expose them to a side of themselves they may have long forgotten or didn’t know existed. The same goes for Fernie – it never saw itself as a summer destination, but mountain biking has sure shown us something different.
I bike a lot, from the first trails to show themselves in the spring, to the last trails to be covered in the fall. Typically during the week I stick to trails in town for the ease of a quick early morning or evening ride just out the door. A favourite loop is Hyperventilation to Hyper Extension, and slipping into Ridgemont to finish on Oh Dear if there’s time. But on any given Sunday I can be found in Mount Fernie Provincial Park, heading to Fernie Alpine Resort via Old Goat and Mega Hurtz or the newly revitalized Ben Emmett. From there, I catch a lift and laugh and giggle all the way down beautifully manicured trails like Duff Dynasty, Top Gun and Eville. And on the way home, I always climb my way to Verboten for the final descent, and remember how times have changed. For the better.