Put on your hiking boots, pack a water bottle and head for the hills. Ranging from moderately even terrain to lung popping steep climbs, Fernie has a variety of trails that lead hikers into some terrific landscapes.
The easiest way to enjoy the Elk Valley is by exploring the network of trails that exists within the city itself. You can take an evening stroll along the Elk River dyke that extends through the community from north to south, as well as in Mountview Park where an easy loop provides great views of the river and surrounding peaks. If you have a bit more time it really doesn’t take much more effort to get out of town and into the mountains.
The Fairy Creek Falls trail is a popular and well-loved, linear route along the base of Mount Procter, just to the north of Fernie. Locally, this trail is one of the least grueling, having only a few short grades to ascend and taking only one to two hours to get to the falls and back. It provides a clear view of Fernie, and passes through some classic montane forest along the creek draw. The falls themselves are small and pretty, but the best views will require you to lose some of the elevation you gained in getting that far.
Another good family outing is on the Double Creek Trail beginning at the Old Cat Shop at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR). See some western red-cedar monster-stumps left over from the early logging days of a century ago, and walk through the quiet and shadowed cedar and spruce that have grown there since. This well-marked trail meanders across two creeks and eventually meets up with the Silk Trail (a road in summer) which returns to the resort.
Just about all of the hiking around Fernie involves steep pitches to some degreehowever there are a few options. Island Lake Lodge has Fernie’s most family friendly hiking and the resort offers award winning accommodations, food and spa. Well maintained trails will keep all levels of hikers entertained with access to the high alpine.
In town, Fernie Trails Club has recently built a family friendly trail up Castle Mountain. This trail has become Fernie’s most hiked and biked trail.
You can spare yourself some time and effort by taking a lift up FAR’s Timber Charir (for a fee). From the top for the chair lift, there are a few possibilities. You can hike around Timber bowl and have lunch at Lost Boy’s Cafe or be adventerous and access Polar Peak and Lizard Ridge. Here, the trees are left behind, and rock, fossils and small, hardy plants take over. Hikers are welcome to walk or take the chair down. If you like to hike it all under your own steam, FAR also has a well-marked hiking trail that begins at the very bottom of the hill and goes up to the Timber Bowl.
Yet another spectacular day hike is up Mount Hosmer, the mountain with the famous shadow of the Ghostrider on it. An excellent trail climbs up switchbacks across alder tangled avalanche tracks and cool forest. Some sections are even augmented with stairs. Colorful wildflowers grow in sunny openings along this steady climb, which reaches an impressive ridge 850 metres above the trail head. The peak itself is another 200 metres higher, and it requires some scrambling in order to summit. Access to the trail is along Hartley Lake Road off Dicken Road.
No matter which trail you decide on, there are a few things to keep in mind when you are out hiking in the Elk Valley. The weather in the Rockies is renowned for being fickle, so always pack extra clothes, rain gear and plenty of water. Keep in mind too, that wildlife including bears and cougars, are also at home in this landscape. Hike in small groups and be wary and respectful of all animal signs while you are out there. Above all, tread lightly, leave nothing but footprints, and enjoy the beauty of this wonderful area.