Thursday • December 8, 2016
Fernie features over 50km of cross country ski trails for all levels of nordic skiers thanks to extensive expansion in recent years.
There are five unique areas to Cross-country ski in Fernie: at the Elk Valley Nordic Centre, Fernie Alpine Resort, Fernie Golf Course, Montane Trails and Island Lake Lodge, plus a multi-use riverside dyke trail. View the Winter Trail Map.
Easily accessed from Historic Downtown Fernie, the trail system at the Fernie Golf Course features 12 km's of groomed, beginner level terrain with epic wide-open views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains. At the trailhead by The Clubhouse (not open in winter), you'll find the Trail & Info Sign, with a dropbox for the purchase of day passes. These trails are only for XC skiers and no dogs are allowed.
The expanding Fernie cross country trail network at the Elk Valley Nordic Centre features over 9 kms of groomed trails including the Galloway Connector Trail — a direct link to Fernie Alpine Resort. This season welcomes a brand new warming hut! Head to Mt Fernie Provincial Park, just a couple kilometres west of Fernie, to access this great trail system.
The Fernie Nordic Society manages the Golf Course & Nordic Centre Trails. Purchase a day pass for $10 or a season pass for $70. Buy a nordic pass online.
The Montane Trail System is located just off of Coal Creek Road, featuring over 12kms of multi-use trails, most groomed regularly. Montane Trails for cross-country skiing only, are called Montane Green. Additional trails in the system are for snowshoeing, fat biking, and dog walking. A day-use hut can be found towards the far end of the trail system and features beautiful views towards Fernie Alpine Resort. The Montane trails are a mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced. Montane Trails are managed by the Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club; donations are welcomed and lifetime memberships are available for $25.
Fernie Alpine Resort has 9 kilometres of groomed trails located off of Lot 4 Parking Area. There are a few hills on both the short and long loop providing a good work-out. Trails are free to use and visitors are encouraged to use the resort facilities.
Island Lake Lodge offers an extensive trail network through the magnificent old-growth cedar forest. It's just over 8km to the Lodge via Lazy Lizard Trail, or over 10km via Cedar Valley Trail. Remember to allow time to ski back down before dark! Sage McBride recently went for a day outing to Island Lake Lodge, continue reading to find out more:
A Nordic Adventure to Island Lake Lodge with Sage McBride
Four people with varying degrees of skill, agility, and balance set off one beautiful, warm, morning in January on a journey to Island Lake Lodge — cross country skiing up Cedar Vally Trail. I grew up cross-country skiing in the wilderness of Northwestern Ontario, with two very avid cross-country skiers as parents. My friends, one from North Vancouver, BC; one from Richmond Hill, Ontario; and one from Aberystwyth, Wales; on the other hand, had never tested out their Nordic skills and were hoping their alpine abilities would cross over. We had our skis waxed, packed some water and snacks, and headed up the groomed cat road. It turned out to be one of the most memorable days on skis!
There was definitely a steep learning curve on the upward climb for my friends. I showed them the herringbone, the sidestep, and edging our skis for control. After a few slippery missteps, everyone was getting the hang of it. We stopped for photographs and admired the beautiful mountains that surrounded us from every side. More than once we marvelled at how this kind of beauty was present in our backyard.
After a vigorous two hour climb to the top, all of us had worked up an appetite for a gourmet lunch, served in one of the most spectacular lodges in BC. We sipped wine from the impressive 3000-bottle library as the sun peeked through the windows of the Tamarack Lodge. For lunch, I had the sweet pea and butter leaf soup with a BBQ tofu wrap, while my friends had the chef’s plate with slow roasted Alberta beef strip loin. Although we had been skiing uphill for two hours, I would have climbed another four for the amazing food prepared by the Island Lake Lodge culinary team.
The sun was lowering behind the mountains, and we began to feel sleepy beside the warm fire. It was hard to leave the impressive great room of the Tamarack Lodge with it's high timbered ceilings and warm cedar decor, but the time had come to bundle up and make our way home. We had the most spectacular ride down, soaring down the snowy, curvy road. My friends, who had mastered the incline technique, took a few falls to get their downhill bearings and trust their ability while they cruised down the slope, but after a few minutes we were all cruising down and having an incredible time.
By the end of the trail, we were all laughing, smiling, and dusted with snow, with full bellies and burning legs. This is one Fernie adventure that is suitable for all types of active people, from those new to cross-country skiing to seasoned veterans; and will become one of my annual winter experiences.
Lunch at Island Lake Lodge must be booked 24 hours in advance. Island Lake Lodge also offers a snowcat ride & lunch package to enjoy their winter wonderland — save the burning thighs and ride up to the lodge in the comfort of a heated snowcat, then enjoy the gourmet lunch before returning. Snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals are available so you snowshoe hike or the lakeside trails directly from the lodge; spa treatments are available by reservation at the Island Lake Spa.
Trails are free for nordic skiing and snowshoeing at Island Lake.