A Guide to Trail Running in Fernie

Photo by Raven Eye Photography

Welcome to summertime in Fernie! Regardless how high your winter stoke gets, no one can disagree that summer’s arrival is a welcome one. Long days and clear skies. Cold beers and sundrenched decks. Single track and trail running. Matches made in heaven. And summer in Fernie offers it all.

The amazing network of trails found in, around, and high above Fernie, are popular with a large number of locals and visitors. With hundreds of trails, loops and routes, there are quite literally, endless opportunities to be found, by bike, hike or foot.

But so many options, brings some tough decisions. It’s hard enough for a group of locals to make their mind up on where to go, but as a visitor to town, it’s overwhelming as to where to run – what elevation there’ll be, how long a loop will take, what terrain to expect and whether you’re in the path of a high-speed, high-traffic bike route! So, to help you find your feet, here are a few of our faves, which cater to a variety of levels, distances and desires…

Montane Loop
Distance: 10.5km Elevation: 266m
Start/Finish: Montane Barn
Area: Montane

Description: A great, cruising route on some of Fernie’s newest Trails. Undulating and fun! Combination of single and double track.

Perfect For: Running with your off-leash four legged friend!

Directions: From the Montane Barn, head out on the Montane Trail, following Coal Creek upstream. Follow the signs until you reach the turnaround point, turning onto fun switchback single track home.

Swine Flu
Distance: 7km Elevation: 376m
Start/Finish: Just off Hwy 3, east of Fernie
Area: Mount Proctor

Description: Short, but not so sweet! This steep single track climb, leads you quickly high above town.

Perfect For: A quick, challenging loop. Please note: No dogs allowed in this area, due to cattle grazing.

Directions: From the gate, follow the single track up, over the cattle grid and up a whole lot more. Options to cut out earlier down Far Side, but getting to the top is worth it for a gorgeous perspective of the Elk Valley.

Distance: 15km Elevation: 425m
Start/Finish: Montane Barn
Area: Castle Mountain

Description: A great climb, loop and view from the top!

Perfect For: Gorgeous views of Fernie, with a good wheeze to boot.

Directions: Head out on the Montane loop, but instead take Lower Uprooted, Uprooted, onto Hyperventilation. Take a quick breath (or a seat), before heading down Hyper Extension, and into Roots Extension. Popping out and cruising along Coal Creek, is a perfect cool down back to base.

Phat Bastard to P9
Distance: 25km Elevation: 759m
Start/Finish: Annex Park
Area: Mount Fernie to Provincial Park

Description: Showcasing another great trail network, in and around Fernie Provincial Park.

Perfect For: A great route, with two solid climbs, great views and fast flowy single track. Lots of options to add onto this route!

Directions: From the Annex Park head up Burma Road, then take Phat Bastard, onto Mushroom Head. Climb one, done. Head down, then from the Powerline, open it up down Stove. Once you hit the Island Lake Road, continue up it, until the Lazy Lizard entrance at the Island Lake sign. Follow Lazy Lizard, until you reach the second double track – take it, up to the right. Climb two. Keep going up, following signage. At the top, take the fun, technical single track down. The road home is the quickest route, but for a third climb, head back up to Mushroom Head and home!

Mt. Fernie to Island Lake
Distance: 30km Elevation: 1,679m
Start/Finish: Annex Park
Area: Mount Fernie to Island Lake

Description: A gorgeous run, with challenging climbs, high ridgelines, and backcountry single track and navigating.

Perfect For: An adventure with friends. And bear spray! Challenging vertical, and technical terrain.

Directions: Take the Fernie Mountain Trail from Alpine Trails. Once you reach the top of Mount Fernie, head over the backside and onto Heiko’s Rocky Road – be careful to stay on the trail. At Windy Pass, take a left, and onto the Tamarack Trail down to Island Lake. Here you can get water (or a beer on the deck), before heading home via Lazy Lizard Trail, or the Old Growth.

Needless to say there are endless options to choose from! For more routes and information on all things running, or to help plan your running adventure in Fernie, head to www.stagleaprunning.com, Fernie’s new Trail Running resource. Or follow Stag Leap Running Co.’s Club on Strava, to find routes, challenge yourself and “prove it!” to your friends.

Until then, happy trail running!