Monday • July 6, 2015
One thing is for certain; there is so much to do in Fernie. No matter the time of year nor the type of weather there is always a new event to take part in, a new trail to conquer or a new personal goal to meet. The only thing you really have to do is arrive; once you are here, an adventure is well within your reach.
Take the annual Role & Sole Trails Festival, a weekend-long festival throughout Fernie where participants of all ages, shapes and abilities tie up their laces and hit the trails to spend the weekend absorbing many of Fernie’s amazing outdoor options. This year’s festival was held on the same weekend as the Fernie 3 Mountain Bike Stage Race and the opening of Fernie Alpine Resort’s (FAR) summer operations, for one hot and epic start to an extraordinary summer.
FAR’s Bike Park opened June 27 and I jumped on a flashy, new mountain bike rental from their rental shop and headed up on the chairlift to check it out. Thirty-seven wide and single-track trails run throughout the Lizard Range and offer up something for everyone from beginners to experts. I am by no means an expert mountain biker and yet I biked on a trail called Rumplestumpskin, a top-to-bottom trail on the Timber side of the resort, known for its more technical downhill biking. Rumplestumpskin is a combination of rocky outcrops and dusty corners with a few steep but (sometimes) manageable drops. Inexperienced though I may be, I found myself having a whole lot of fun, even though I had to walk down a few sections for fear of eliminating myself as a species. What more could you want? I spent another couple of hours touring the hill from the Elk Chair throughout the Lizard Bowl. Trails connected to other trails like branches to a tree; it is a jackpot for mountain bikers and a fantastic way to further develop your biking skill set. Parents geared up their kids with shin guards and helmets, their pint-sized mountain bikes ready for ripping down the trails. There was some serious biking talent on this mountain and the best part is that everyone—regardless of age—was more than stoked.
There were also several people hiking the resort; with a scenic chairlift ride up to the top of the bowl, hikes including the Ridge Walk make exploring the Lizard Range accessible and spectacular. For more information about the landscape around the resort, FAR also has Nature Bob's Interpretive Centre located at the Yurt on top of the Elk Chair. Collections of fossils found directly at the resort, including fossilized coral, give visitors an idea of just how ancient and unique the area is. You might even be lucky enough to find a collection of your own.
Another great activity at FAR is the Aerial Park or Zipline, both new additions in the past couple of years. This family-friendly option gets your adrenaline pumping and gives visitors an alternative view of the Lizard Range, one that has you soaring through the trees at top speeds.
In the afternoon I headed into town to take in the days’ events at the Roll & Sole Trails Festival. I watched as father-son duos played bike polo and tried to avoid crashing into one another. Everyone was smiling; clearly having a fantastic time, cheering every time someone came close to scoring a goal—or falling from their bike. The crowd encouraged and playfully heckled participants and friends. Roll & Sole events also included guided bike tours with Fernie Bike Guides on the cross-country trails around town, as well as guided hikes on Mount Fernie, Castle Mountain and Coal Creek Trail, led by the Fernie Trails Alliance. Other events included trail running, obstacles courses for hikers, bike tosses and various skill-testing challenges. Misty sprinklers kept the kids cool throughout the heat of the day as they biked over jumps and down ramps. Food truck vendors including Good Grub, Happy Cow Ice Cream and the Chopstick Truck plus great downtown patio options left everyone content. The Roll & Sole Trail Festival is a great way to introduce newcomers to the many opportunities for adventure in Fernie; if you are a local, the festival provides a fresh perspective of this beautiful mountain town.
The infamous Fernie 3 Mountain Bike Stage Race ran hot from June 27 to 29. The race saw more than 160 bikers from as far as Saskatchewan and Idaho participate in the one and three-day single-track rides, biking an average of 30 kilometres per day, plus U13 and U16 events for younger athletes. The Fernie 3 took bikers up and down popular trails including Slunt and Verboten and as always was a great success. Personal goals were certainly met—and beat—at the Fernie 3.
Whether you come to race, relax or roam through the mountains in and around Fernie, this past weekend’s adventures were just the beginning of an incredibly eventful summer. Be sure to watch the calendar for events to check out, and I’ll see you on the trails!
Fernie Destination Expert
The Fernie Multi-use Trail Map is available for purchase at gear shops around town.
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