Surprising Views and How to Get There
Castle Mountain Summit - This visual promontory rising above town with its red cliff face catching the setting sun provides a great orientation landmark when viewed from the Valley. When perched on top, the expansive reaches of the Elk Valley can really be appreciated.
To access the bike trail, begin at the Aquatic Centre Trail Hub following the Coal Creek Heritage Trail and turning right down to Coal Creek Rd. where you will cross the creek on a gated bridge. Turn left and follow the trail to Uprooted on your right. Once you reach River Road Extension, take the right fork up Roots which connects to Hyper Ventilation. Continue until reaching the Castle Rocks sign where you will again go right. The route to Castle Mountain summit is obvious from this point.
Hikers can choose to drive up Coal Creek Road until turning right at the second bridge crossing Coal Creek onto River Road Extension. Continue until reading Branch and then turn left following the logging road until coming to a pull out beside Uprooted Trail. Follow this trail to connect with Hyper Ventilation, then follow directions as per above.
Note: This is very exposed location, so stay clear of the edge and keep an eye on your kids when lingering about this precipice.
Island Lake Baldy Loop - This 360 deg panorama stretching to the Bull River, and looking at Mt. Dooley is a Fernie Rocky Mountain classic. This location can be accessed by driving up to Island Lake Lodge and following the hiking signs for the Baldy Loop Trail. This is prime grizzly bear habitat so use good bear country practices and make noise as you move through the area.
Old Growth Trail at Cabin Ridge Corner - As the name implies, this is where the most easterly temperate rainforest “western red cedars” reside. The views here are usually up into the canopy of these majestic giants, but at the Cabin Ridge Trail junction, the newly improved view (after the climactic 2014 avalanche) of the Three Bears and Cabin Bowl are a wonder to behold. Trailhead is accessed after driving or biking about 5km up the Island Lake Road through Mount Fernie Provincial Park. Alternatively, hikers can take the Rail and Old Growth Trails.
West Fernie Elk River Bench - The Elk River is Fernie’s aquatic jewel, that sparkles at all times of the year, and its temperament changes not only seasonally but daily. A grand wooden bench has been strategically placed allowing great views of the Lizard Range. Just follow the dyke downstream of the West Fernie Highway #3 bridge on the south side of the river. The trail follows the river until it wraps around past the Coal Creek confluence, where the bench is situated. A prime space for peaceful contemplation, or to plan your next energetic adventure into the mountains.
Microwave Towers (Morrissey Ridge) - By far the highest viewpoint on the list, which is primarily accessed by driving a high clearance vehicle to the summit. An amazing place to watch the sunset or stay the night for a sunrise to warm your soul.
Drive up Coal Creek Road continuing past the first two Coal Creek bridges, until you come to a wye, where you will cross Coal Creek. The road continues through Fernie’s past coal mining legacy, and climbs to a junction with Matheson Creek Road (Microwave Towers). It’s a steep logging road from this point, where another junction is encountered, and you’ll take a right over the creek. Keep following this road until you arrive at a wide switchback, where you will go left. At this point many people abandon their vehicles and walk the remaining kilometer, as the road is very rocky and rough as it accesses the ridge. Also attainable via bike, for those looking for a long road ride.
Swine Flu Bench - You won’t get sick of this view. Perched on the south facing flanks of Mt. Proctor in an aspen grove, the vista looks over Fairy Creek, the residential developments of Alpine Trails, and the City of Fernie.
On bike or foot, begin at the Chamber of Commerce/Info Centre Fairy Creek Trailhead, and continue until crossing through the barbwire fence turnstile, turning right onto the Swine Flu trail. Once you arrive at the powerline turn left and keep your eyes open for a hard right turn, continuing along Swine Flu until reaching the lookout bench. You can go back they way you came or turn left at the bench following the descent. The trail is used extensively by mountain bikers so hikers should stay aware.
Dogwood Park Elk River - An accessible location by townie or foot from downtown to get into some naturalized environment by the River. Travel south on 4th Avenue, towards the river and at the base of the hill resides Dogwood Park’s riverside trail, complete with benches to linger a while, or river access to check out the water’s sticks and stones.
Tamarack Ridge Viewpoint - An excellent trail through a scree slope, this well-posted viewpoint lies about halfway up the ascent where Tamarack Trail extends on towards the Mountain Lakes Trail. Views of the Three Bears on the Lizard Range are nothing short of spectacular, and the wildflowers along the route can be quite impressive. Begin the hike from Island Lake Lodge.
Timber Chair Lookouts (Morning Glory, Lost Boys, or Polar Peak) - Whether getting a lift on the chair at Fernie Alpine Resort, or hiking from the base these special vantage points create a selection of satisfying views. The hikes are all well signed from the top of the Timber Chair, and the vistas defy description, as your breath will be taken away.
Elk River Bridges - How sweet it is to hang over the rails of either on of these Highway #3 bridges and watch the Elk River. Fishes schooling, fisherman casting, or tubers floating by, this is a soothing place to let go of your cares.
Easy access by bike or just walking about town, a stop here to reflect is always worthwhile.
Maiden Lake Beach Reflections - Fernie’s hidden beach is located behind Extra Foods on 9th Avenue, where the sheltered lake, and circumnavigating trail provide sights of the Rocky Mountains in all directions, and if you are fortunate a smooth reflection on the lake will double your viewing pleasure. Enjoy by bike or foot.
Mount Hosmer Saddle Trail - Alpine surroundings at their finest, the reaching of Mount Hosmer Ridge is a quintessential right of passage for Fernieites. With the Mt. Proctor massif and Hartley Creek valley spreading out before you, it feels like remote wilderness, but reality is still close to the town’s comfortable amenities. Drive towards Sparwood on the Highway, until arriving at the second Dicken Road left turn. Take the first right onto Hartley Lake Road (the sign is usually missing). Follow this forestry road up the steep and narrow valley, until you come to a signed trail head on your right. If you arrive at Hartley Lake you have gone too far. The trail climbs steadily up to the ridge where the expanse of mountains is revealed. There is no water available on this alpine trail so come prepared.
Silver Springs Bighorn Rim - Not in Fernie but worthy of mention, the Bighorn Rim trail is not for those with acrophobia as it skirts the top of the 250 metre cliffs that surround Silver Springs Lakes. With views of these spring fed green water lakes, and the surrounding Elko peaks, Broadwood, the Wedding Cake, and Race Car Mountains, this journey is well worth the effort.
Begin by driving to Elko (20 km west of Fernie), and turn left from the Highway into the village, follow the road as it winds through the community, where you will come to a left turn that takes you down to the Elk River. Immediately on your right, after crossing the bridge is the parking area for the road/trail.
The road climbs steeply above the Elk Canyon, until reaching a rocky crest, then descends a short way into a forested area, where a small drainage crosses the road. You will turn left, switchbacking uphill on the narrow trail, until you reach the cliff edged rim of the Bighorn. Use caution, and keep children attended at all times as large falls are possible as one moves along the rim, where magnificent views abound.
Mount Fernie Park Lizard Creek Bridgeview Bench - A casual outing on bike or foot, this point provides a view up the valley towards Island Lake and a chance to decompress. Mount Fernie Park is located 4 km west of Fernie, and can be accessed from town on the Centennial Trail, or driving to the overflow parking lot. The Sherwoody Forest Trails begin here, and provide a labyrinth of interconnected trails that will eventually loop back to the campground. You will arrive at the bench early in your expedition, so the view can be enjoyed at any point on your travels, whether coming or going.
Bear Chutes Ridge - One of the original (pre trail era) routes up onto the Fernie hillsides. This old exploration road has provided unobstructed access onto the lower slopes of Fernie Ridge for many years. A selection of viewpoints open up as one climbs the road by foot or bike, so you can choose your favorite which is usually determined by how long you want to climb up this steep ascent. Travel either on Coal Creek Heritage Trail (CCHT) or Coal Creek Road until reaching Ridgemont Road on your left. Take the first right after CCHT, on an old road which climbs over bedrock and reaches an old forestry road, where you continue up Bear Chutes Ridge until you find the view of your liking.
Sidewinder Eco Terrorist Roundabout - The Sidewinder access to the upper Ridgemont bench is an old Fernie classic trail, that provides a shady walk or ride on a hot day. The sights, once up into the clearcut, include the surrounding mountains and the small town of Fernie nestled into its Rocky Mountain cradle. The trail can be accessed from the Aquatic Centre trail hub. Follow the Kootenay Elk Trail north past the Skateboard Park until you come to Ridgemont Avenue (paved road), turn right uphill a ways, and you will see a trail to your left. This is Sidewinder. Switchbacks up and will turn you out into a large clearing until you get to the Eco Terrorist Roundabout. This is the prime viewpoint of the Ridgemont Bench, and can also be a very social place if you stick around long enough.