Get the Whole Family out on these easy Fernie hikes
Fernie offers hikers spectacular hiking trails, including easy family-friendly walks and half or full-day mountain hikes.
Abundant wildlife seen from the trails (including trails in town) may include Black Bears, Beavers, Moose, Martens, Owls and Eagles. Painted Turtles, Three-toed Salamaders, Pika and Grizzly Bears are occasionally spotted in quiet areas. Fernie's forests are truly magical, and the variety of tree-life is also worth exploring, from Ancient Western Red Cedars to Giant Cottonwoods to towering Tamaracks.
Begin with the Community Trail System for an easy stroll alongside the Elk River. Views include spectacular sunsets over the Lizard Range, the dramatic slope of Mt Fernie, and the incredible Ghostrider Shadow on Mt Proctor at dusk. Swaying cottonwoods provide shade on a hot summer afternoon and there's always plenty of wildlife action on and around the smooth-flowing waters including graceful Blue Herons.
One of the most popular gentle hikes in Fernie is the 4km (roundtrip) Fairy Creek Falls Trail. The trailhead is located at the Fernie Visitor Information Centre on Hwy #3. A well-maintained trail leads to the beautiful cascading, misting falls which are in full spate from in the early summer months. Watch for dippers which often bounce across the rocks at the base of the falls.
The Ancient Cottonwoods Trail,approx 17 km west of Fernie at Morrissey, is home to some of the largest, oldest black cottonwoods ever discovered and adults and kids alike love the magical feel of the towering timbers with their mossy, furrowed bark. The initial short descent to the river and wooden bridges make it feel like you're entering an enchanted kingdom.
At Fernie Alpine Resort(open late June - early September), the Elk Chairlift provides access to a number of alpine trails with beautiful views into the valley and up to the peaks above. The Interpretive Centre at the top of the chair has information on local flora, fauna and fossils - many of which can be found on the trails. A complimentary 1-hr guided nature hike departs daily at 2pm for all ticket-holders.
At the Mt Fernie Provincial Park, family-friendly interpretive trail has panels detailing the unique flora and fauna found in the area. There are several easy trail options, some of which cross the gentle creek, others wind through mature cedar and hemlock forest. A connector trail links the park to Fernie Alpine Resort. A cool, calm sanctuary on a hot day offering access to lots of biking trails if you're ready to get a little more adventurous.
The jewel in Fernie's hiking crown is undoubtedly Island Lake Lodge (open early June - early October). Accessed in summer by car via the winding Cedar Valley Road or on foot via the Rail Trail and Old Growth Trail, this tranquil spot has gentle hikes around the scenic lake and a number of more strenuous options reaching into the high alpine. Add a spa treatment or rent a canoe to explore the lake. Enjoy lunch on the Bear Lodge Patio or Tamarack Dining Room - both picturesque settings with equally memorable cuisine and cocktails. Due to a number of activities, please call ahead if you plan to use the facilities - hiking trails are always open!
The Coal Creek Heritage Trail, is a great option for all ages and abilities of hikers and mountain bikers with an elevation gain of only 200m over the course of the 8.2km length of the valley-bottom trail. A second access point at the Rifle Range off Coal Creek Road makes it easy to split this hike into two sections.
A series of 13 interpretive panels plus large map panels and several historical panels make this hike a fascinating look into the history of Coal Creek as well as a fun nature hike. The Coal Creek Mine was closed in 1957 and a wildfire the same year razed many of the buildings. A few ruins can still be found at the townsite.
Note: The historic townsite can be accessed via the Coal Creek Road by 4WD vehicle (high clearance required).