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Hikes In Autumn

Leaves crunch underfoot like an orchestra of tambourines, crunch and then crumble as they hold onto the last moments of fall. Resilient for a time, but it's inevitable that eventually all maples and cottonwoods, all the leaves of huckleberry bushes and violet flower petals clinging to stems, give way to winter.

Which is when—despite more rainy days and colder nights—it's the absolute best time to go for a hike. 

Lucky for us here in Fernie there's so much available, so many accessible trails with incredible rewards at their terminus. If you're headed here for the weekend, or the winter, and find yourself settling in but wondering where to go, we can help.

The Fairy Creek Trail, whose trailhead begins behind the Chamber of Commerce just east of town, is an easy, mellow autumn hike to a miraculous little waterfall hidden in plain site. The Trail is a 4-kilometre there-and-back single-track, with a few roots and rocks to keep you on your toes. This time of year, the water cascades on separate sides of the viridescent green mossy rocks, and old trees long-since fallen to their demise are sprinkled gently by the falling water.

What's more, Fairy Creek is Fernie's freshwater reservoir. Past the Falls, walk a steep but short trail and see for yourself the crystal-blue water spilling over the reservoir's dam.

If a bit more intensity is what you seek, try the Mt. Fernie Ridge Trail. A more difficult 8-kilometres there-and-back (4km to the ridgeline), Fernie Mountain's east-side route switch-backs up and across the several avalanche paths to a field of ancient fossils and a view certain to imprint on your brain. This one will get your heart pumping, but in a fabulous 'I-needed-this' kind of way. Once at the top, sit on the wooden bench (or find yourself a comfortable rock) and take your time. It's a great place for a snack, a cup of tea, perhaps it's cool enough for a hot chocolate with Bailey's. Either way, watch the clouds roll in and out of the valley and look for other summits to ascend.

This time of year you're as likely to encounter snow as you are falling leaves on the flanks of Mt. Hosmer. Be prepared; proper footwear and even durable gaiters will help keep your feet warm.

Or maybe, more than anything, what you crave is a gentle stroll along the river with a coffee in hand. Check Fernie's trail network in town; it's Main Loop is a 14-kilometre walk following the flow of the Elk River. Skip rocks on the water's edge, watch neighbourhood dogs frolic at the local Dog Park. It's the best way to see the softer side of Fernie, the way locals see it, and you don't have to climb a mountain to do it.

No matter where you venture this dwindling fall, remember to dress appropriately, bring snacks, and stow your best bear spray. But most of all, savour the crunch of leaves beneath your feet, and the bitter nip of winter against your nose. Goodness knows it won't be here for long.

Continue reading about Jesse's Fall Adventures in Part 2: Fall Wanderings

--Jesse Bell

Jesse is a local writer and adventurer with a huge passion for Fernie, BC and the Canadian Rockies.

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