Big changes are coming to Parastone Developments’ Montane project, with the ever-popular Montane Trail Network in Fernie set to get a brand-new trailhead as part of longer-term plans to further establish Fernie as a premier outdoor recreation location in North America.
Off the back of community consultation in 2022, Parastone is taking steps to ensure that access to multi-use trails through the development is enhanced and protected, by building a fully-accessible world-class trailhead that will have amenities for trail users both local and from out of town.
“We heard the community loud and clear when we reached out for feedback on the Montane project in 2022 and before that,” said owner and General Manager of Parastone Developments, Simon Howse.
“It’s important that development projects like ours add to the fabric of what makes Fernie such an attractive place to live, play and visit.”
As part of a multi-year project, trail users gaining access to the Montane network and other trails to the southeast of Fernie proper (such as Roots, Hyper etc.) may begin their journey at the new trailhead, which will be located on the corner of Montane Parkway and Cokato Rd.
The existing trailhead on Coal Creek Rd (the Montane Bridge Trailhead) will be decommissioned to make way for better and more accessible trail access.
“We understand the existing trailhead is very popular and well-used, thanks to third-party data from Tourism Fernie that proves it’s used the most out of every other trailhead around Fernie, every month of the year,” said Howse. “So that’s why we plan to have a new trailhead in place and connected to the Montane trails before we proceed with any other aspects of our master plan for the area.”
At the same site on the corner of Montane Parkway and Cokato Rd, Parastone will also be setting aside land for, and developing an engineered wetland that will preserve the natural environment and create a new publicly-accessible wild space in town. More information on that project will be released as work comes closer.
Works that require the Montane Bridge trailhead be closed include a new 50+ site campground on the south side of Coal Creek with easy access to the Montane Barn.
More detail will be released on the future campground as that project comes closer.
With these upcoming works, the Montane trail network is going to be unchanged, only how users access the bulk of them.
“We want to assure the public that besides some changes at the trailhead, everything else you love about the network is going to be either unchanged, or further enhanced for the future,” said Howse.
Access will be suitable for all multi-use trail users, with the network popular with mountain bikers, walkers and runners in summer, and fat bikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers in winter.
Trail closures are expected to be well-posted and managed to allow alternate access while construction is underway in coming weeks.
According to Howse, it is hoped that work can begin on the new temporary trailhead and parking lot as soon as weather and conditions permit. Works to secure permitting for a new, permanent, world-class trailhead on the same site are underway.
Looking ahead, Howse revealed that Parastone were excited to be forging ahead with long-term plans for the Montane neighborhood, which when completed will include the new trailhead, shops and a brewpub as well as a protected wetland and park in the site at the corner of Montane Parkway and Cokato Road, as well as the upcoming 50+ site campground.
“We at Parastone want to lean into what makes Fernie a great place to live, and tourists just happen to like it too,” said Howse.