Fix Favourites: Routes to Explore this Winter

Author: 
Krista Turcasso
In: 
Outdoors

With so many activities and copious amounts of trails options for each, it can be difficult to make a decision when it comes to exploring the extensive wilderness that branches out on all sides of the valley. We know the feeling, so each year we provide some of our favourites to help you out. Here is this year's list. For more options, visit ferniefix.com and see our "Fix Favourites" tab. And above all else, have fun!

Nordic Skiing
This sport has taken off in recent years. With the formation of the Fernie Nordic Society and it being a member of the Fernie Trails Alliance, additions like the Elk Valley Nordic Centre and the new warming hut have expanded the kilometres of Nordic trails available and created programs including kids lessons, adult lessons, and a racing team. This organization has also increased Fernie’s profile as a Nordic skiing destination through numerous events, including the Annual Winterfest, a two-day affair with a Kootenay Cup race and the popular Winter Wheezer event. New this year are Little Critter races, Toonie Races, and multiple Full Moon Ski and Socials.

Not surprisingly, with this increased attention and interest other areas have been developed – including Montane, which has quickly become a hub for multi-purpose recreation whether on Nordic skis – snowshoes, running shoes or fat bike. Fernie Alpine Resort has also tied into the Elk Valley Nordic Centre, which creates a whole new level of opportunity… and this year’s Nordic recommendation.

Route: Elk Valley Nordic Centre to Fernie Alpine Resort  
Distance: 7km +
Difficulty: Intermediate  Estimated Time: 1-3 Hours

Last winter, I began skate skiing. I grew up on classic skis, which I still love, but I was interested in this sport taking Fernie by storm. A few friends had suggested riding from the Nordic Centre to Fernie Alpine Resort, having snacks and a few refreshments at the Cirque Restaurant, and then either heading home or having someone pick us up. It was a fantastic adventure!

Starting at the Nordic Centre, stay right at all junctions. On the Galloway Loop, you will see a sign directing you to turn right to head to Fernie Alpine Resort. Follow this trail, and you will find yourselves at the base of the Elk Chair. From there, it’s just a short distance to the Lizard Creek Lodge, should you wish to enjoy a snack and refreshment. You have the option of heading back to the Nordic Centre (stay right once reaching Galloway, to complete the Nordic Centre loop) or catching a ride back to town. See Nordic Centre map on page 76 for directions.

Suggestion: For those keen on a bigger day, consider doing the Fernie Alpine Resort short (Silk Trail) or long (Silk and Scandia Trails) loop before heading back to the Nordic Centre trails!

Snow Shoeing
There is just something about the muffled sounds of deep, powdery snow beneath a pair of snowshoes while making your way to one of Fernie’s fantastic viewpoints. Personally, I enjoy snowshoeing best when the path is untracked (just like skiing!). It may be more effort, but it is also amazing to see where a pair of snowshoes, which are estimated at having been invented over 4,000 years ago, will take you! The options are endless, really.

So, let’s get off the beaten path, why don’t we? Wait for that beautiful snowfall (and perhaps a shred at Fernie Alpine Resort), and then hit the mountains.

Route: Hyper Extension
Distance: 8km +
Difficulty: Immediate to Advanced
Estimated Time: 2-3 hours

In the summer of 2016, Stag Leap held its first King of the Castle running race, which took this exact route up to the top of Castle Mountain. Starting at the parking area adjacent to the River Road and Coal Creek Junction, hook a left after the bridge crossing Coal Creek and meander through the woods on this climb, which quickly gains elevation. You have choices here. Once you reach the top of Roots Extension, you can stay right and take Resurrection back down to River Road, which is the shortest loop. Second option, is once at the top of Hyper Extension, enjoy the view and turn back the way you came or take Hyper Ventilation down to River Road. Alternatively, climb to the top of Castle Rocks, as the King or Queen of the Castle, enjoy that deserved hot chocolate and snack, and come back the way you came or detour left down Hyper Ventilation.

This is such a beautiful area to take in the views of the Valley, so whichever route you choose, we promise it will be worth the grunt!

Fat Biking
I am what you might call an avid mountain biker. I love it, and while I enjoy all seasons in Fernie, I can barely wait for spring and the recon missions to discover which trails are rideable. Hello, my name is Krista and I am a bike addict. So, it comes to a big surprise to many that I do not own a fat bike. I often wonder myself, but then I realize that once I try it, I’m doomed… and so is my family.

Instead of sacrificing my beloved family,
I reached out to one of Fernie’s most passionate fat bikers Angela Etheridge of the Fernie Mountain Bike Club, and this was her recommendation.

Route: Cemetery Bypass – Kiddy Up – Queen V – Eco Terrorist – Deafall –  Broken Derailleur – Sidewinder 
Distance: 6 km
Difficulty: Intermediate
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Start just above town at the entrance to the Cemetery, by taking Cemetery Bypass trail. Continue START to Kiddy Up, then connect to Queen V. From here, follow Eco Terrorist through the woods and along the snow-covered boardwalks back to the main road, where you will veer left and take Deadfall until the Four Corners. From here, turn left and take Broken Derailleur and Sidewinder all the way down until the trail meets Old Stumpy. This loop will be regularly groomed throughout the winter by the FMBC, so big thanks to this crew of dedicated individuals!

Trail Running
Once I discovered the sport of mountain biking, my running shoes were quickly side lined. As my time became more constrained I realized that running is a great bang for your buck, so I began exploring trail running in winter. I found that snowshoers would pack down the trails perfectly for running, bought some waterproof runners and a pair of gaiters, and winter has never been the same. I really enjoyed this new version of a sport I had long forgotten. Reaching a snowy summit mid-winter and seeing a view you’ve seen countless times covered in a white, pillowy blanket, in the peace and quiet of
a winter day, is an exhilarating experience. Plus, the way down is great fun and it’s a lot easier on your body!

Now, with more people out on the trails, whether on snowshoes or fat bikes, there are countless options out there and my post-holing days are behind me.

Route: Lazy Lizard Trail  
Distance: 7 km + 
Difficulty: Intermediate
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

This is a fantastic run, and a route that is often snowshoed during the winter months, which makes it great for running! From town, drive West along Hwy 3 and take a right turn towards the Mount Fernie Provincial Park. Continue driving until you reach the lower Island Lake parking lot. The trail runs along the right side of the cat road, and there are signs along the way. You can run part way up and back, or all the way to the lodge which is 7km one way. The bonus is, if you decide to run Thursday through Sunday you can enjoy lunch and the beautiful views offered from the lodge… even a spa treatment and a cat ride back down. The key is – book ahead of time.