Snowmobiling in Fernie

The Fernie Snowmobile Association (FSA) has been the voice for organized snowmobiling in the Elk Valley since 1990. This volunteer organization works diligently with government and private landowners to secure access to backcountry terrain in addition to providing services and amenities for a wide variety of trail users including sledders, Nordic skiers, snowshoers, fat-bikers, and ski-tourers. The core 160km trail network is groomed twice a week (Thursdays and Saturday evenings); in fact, over 5,600 km of grooming was performed last season alone! The FSA also manages a detailed trail signage and map program covering five distinct riding areas spread over thousands of acres, three warming cabins, and collaborates with agencies to promote local tourism and healthy outdoor recreation opportunities for residents. Several special events are held through the season including the action-packed Sled Drag Races, social rides, and backcountry BBQs. Check out www.ferniesnowmobile.com for more info.

Key information
Day passes are available for purchase at trailheads for $25 (funds collected directly support the grooming program). All off-road vehicles in BC require provincial registration and insurance; passes and plates must be visible at all times. The Elk Valley has several access management areas established to protect wildlife corridors, sensitive ecosystems and to provide opportunities for non-motorized recreation areas. Be sure to check the RDEK regional access management maps available online before you head out exploring.

Suggested rides
Rolling Hills: One of Fernie's most popular and easily accessible riding areas. From the Coal Creek staging area, travel 16km up a groomed trail to reach the well-equipped Rolling Hills cabin. Great out and back trip for families. Open terrain immediately behind the cabin suitable for intermediate riders to play in or continue South on the groomed trail through the Rolling Hills to access more playzones and the Wrangler's Cabin.

The Notch: The ultimate sledders playground. From the Morrissey staging area follow the winding groomed trail 16km up to the Wrangler's cabin. Come early on a powder day to get first tracks in the ultimate sub-alpine meadow beside the cabin or climb South up the pipeline over the double hills to reach the Notch. Offers unrivaled scenery and technical riding in open glades and small bowls. Note: groomed trail passes through private cat ski area – stay on designated trail.

Hartley Lake: Fernie's gateway to advanced alpine riding and some of the Elk Valley's most remote backcountry terrain. Groomed trail is an easy ride past Hartley Lake to Sulpher Creek FSR. From here riders can choose any number of routes and boondocking zones, including opportunities to link with the Sparwood and Elkford Snowmobile network. Note: some spots have seasonal closures to motorized traffic.

Before you head out
Get the Gear: Avalanche rescue equipment, clothing, helmets, snowmobiles and accessories, sled and safety gear rentals, trail passes and airbag refills available at Ghostrider Motorsports and Gearhub Sports.

Get the Training: Elk Valley Snow Shepherds offers snowmobile specific avalanche skills training, mountain mentorship programs and guiding services. Wier Boondocking offers riding clinics and lessons.

Get the Forecast: Avalanche Canada provides updated bulletins, weather, and field observations for the Elk Valley. Be sure to check out the educational and entertaining AvCanada South Rockies Field Team conditions reports on YouTube and Instagram.

Get the Picture: Understand where you will be sledding and note the changing hazards throughout the day. Don't hesitate to adjust your riding plan accordingly to more conservative terrain choices.

Get out of Harm's Way: Practice safe travel techniques and terrain management skills. Only one rider on a slope at a time, watch your buddies from a safe location, do not group in exposed terrain.