Bikepacking mixes the adventure of lightweight backcountry camping with the joy of off-road biking. Riders can use everything from dedicated gravel bikes to full-suspension rigs for their explorations. By taking just the bare necessities mounted on their frames the bike frames, most almost all mountain bikes can be used for bike packing.
With a wealth of mountains, rivers and lakes, Fernie's location in the heart of the Canadian Rockies makes it an ideal starting point for a bikepacking expedition. The vast network of purpose-built multi-use trails mixed with miles of backcountry gravel roads provides a world of bikepacking options whether you're looking for a single day gravel outing or a multi-day adventure in the wild.
The City of Fernie is a major stop on many famous national and international trails. The downtown and highway area is close to trails and offers a great opportunity to resupply at the many food stores, refuel for lunch, service or repair your gear, or rest up at the many accommodation options.
BC Trail | 1,199km (745miles)
The BC Trail begins in the Fraiser Valley at Cultus Lake where you'll be following a stretch of the newly establish Great Trail. Riding over decommissioned railway lines, gravel road, forest service roads, and sections of singletrack you'll catch some stunning views as you traverse eastwards along southern British Columbia all the way to Fernie.
The Great Divide | 4,418km (2745 miles)
The famous Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) is an off-pavement biking trail that begins north in the town of Banff, Alberta. Fernie is the next resupply stop before the route continues on to follow the Continental Divide over a distance of 4,418km through British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, ending at the Mexican border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
The route famously hosts the annual Tour Divide in June where solo riders tackle the route unsupported often completing the journey within fifteen days. More casual adventures bikepackers will often spend a day or two to refuel and resupply in town before continuing their journey south into Montana.
The Great Trail (TransCanada Trail) | 27,000km (16,777 miles)
Fernie celebrated the opening of the Great Trail on August 26, 2017, connecting the city to thirteen provinces and territories across Canada. The 27,000km of multi-use trail includes a mixture of greenway, roadway, and waterways. Whilst the idea of travelling the whole route will be daunting for many, the options short day and multiday day rides from Fernie are fill with scenic mountain view and stunning nature. The Elk Valley Trail is a 198-kilometre snippet of the Great Trail which connects Fernie to the communities of Hosmer, Sparwood, and Elkford to the north, and Elko to the sorth.
A popular local choice is riding the Great Trail (Elk Valley Trail section) connecting Fernie to Elko (53.5KM). Beginning in downtown Fernie, the route passes through lush green trees in Fernie's Montane area down to Morrissey. We'd recommend stopping to cool off by the Elk River, or even a short break to explore the Ancient Cottonwood Trails on foot. The trail continues southward alongside the Elk River flanked by the mountains of the Lizard Range and Morrissey Ridge.
Alternatively, the 34km trail heading northbound from Fernie to Sparwood is majority cross country singletrack. The trail has a few short punchy climbs, as it passes the historic mining ruins in Hosmer. You can rest and resupply in Sparwood whilst considering the option to continue northbound towards Elkford and o Elk Lakes Provincial Park.
Be aware the local routes use gravel roads passing through areas of BC wilderness where cellular service will be weak and intermittent, to nonexistent beyond Hartley Lake. Please prepare accordingly with spare parts, supplies, and inform others of your route before heading out.
Hartley Lake | 30km Return (19 miles)
Hartley Lake sits in the valley between the Three Sisters and Mount Hosmer. This is a paved route heading north-east from Fernie via Dicken Road to the start of Hartley Lake Road. From here, it's a steady gravel road climb into the Rockies wilderness. Hartley Lake is a BC Recreational site with basic camping amenities.
Sulphur Creek Recreation Site | 54km Return (34 miles)
Heading further up Hartley Lake Road from Hartley Lake you can continue a further 12km to reach Sulphur Creek Recreation Site. The route is a steady short punchy climb from Hartley Lake heading north before a steady downhill section for the rest of the way.
For those looking for a longer ride still, there is the option to continue onward to Summer Lake...
Summer Lake | 130km Return ( 80miles)
Summer Lake lies north of Fernie beyond the iconic Three Sisters peaks. This ride shares a short section of the famous Great Divide Mountain Bike Route before peeling off and following one of the many tributaries of the Bull River climbing towards the fringe of the Top Of The World Provincial Park. Basic camping facilities are available at the Summer Lake Recreational Site