Fernie Hikes Not to Miss
Sitting in this valley, it’s hard not to envision yourself at the top of one of the magnificent peaks surrounding us. Fortunately there are trails… a lot of trails leading to various points along the mountain side, and to peaks if you wish.
Here are five options for you to try while here, with plenty more to be discovered.
1. Old Stumpy Loop - Town
Difficulty Level – Green
Elevation – just above town
Average Time – 1-2 hours
You’re in Fernie, you have a couple of hours to spare and wouldn’t mind some exercise – this is for you. From 15th street heading towards Ridgemont, you’ll pass the New Horizions’ subdivision after crossing the train tracks, and will see a gate leading to a path on your left. This is Old Stumpy. There is minimal parking here, try parking at Isabella Dicken Elementary School on 15th and 2nd Ave. The Hike This is a mellow hike alongside Ridgemont Mountain through tall grass and trees with strategically placed benches. These provide great opportunities to sit and take in the stunning views above, and fields, golf course and town below. The trail continues eventually hitting the train tracks, where you will cross and connect with the dike behind the Fernie Golf and Country Club, alongside the Elk River. Eventually you will hit Maiden Lake, where you will turn left following the path behind Extra Foods, the Best Western and the Elk Valley Hospital, and in front of Fernie Secondary School. Here it will connect with 2nd Avenue, and take you back to 15th Street to complete the loop.
2. Castle Mountain – Town
Difficulty Level – Blue/Black
Elevation – 5,280 feet
Average Time – 3-5 hours
With the addition of Uprooted, Castle Mountain can easily be accessed from town. Take Pine Avenue once you’ve crossed the train tracks, passing the Fernie Aquatic Centre and turn left on Coal Creek Road. You will see a yellow bridge on your right by the old barn. Park here, and take the trail on your left after you cross the bridge, following the flagging as you make your way up the mountain. The Hike This hike starts of pretty mellow and progressively gets steeper and more exposed. The beauty of it is there are so many view points along the way, any point you reach is rewarding. Uprooted crosses both the original and new River Road, meandering through trees until it eventually joins Hyperventilation. Take a left, and continue to climb the numerous switchbacks. Soon you will reach the first lookout and bench. From here, it’s a few switchbacks before you meet up with South Castle, taking you to the base of Castle Rocks. Once here, take a left and walk the last steep pitch to Castle Mountain’s rocks, a very worthwhile pinnacle. Please note: These trails are also used for mountain biking.
3. Fairy Creek Falls – Town
Difficulty Level – Green
Elevation – 3,937 feet
Average Time – 1.5 hours
The trailhead can be accessed from the Visitor Information Centre located off Highway #3. Behind the Centre is the new trail Dairy Run which links with Fairy Creek. Our hard working volunteers and Back Country Trail Experts completed Dairy Run last year. It has a gentle grade with some switchbacks meandering through the trees. The trail comes out to an open field, stay left and follow the signs to Fairy Creek. Enjoy the view of the Falls and stop at the bench for a snack before heading back. Another great day in Fernie!
4. Hosmer Mountain – Hartley Lake Road
Difficulty Level – Black
Elevation – 7,676 feet
Average Time – 4-6 hours
Travel north on Highway 3 and take a left on Dicken Road just after the Fernie Chamber of Commerce. Continue on Dicken Road to Hartley Lake Road and turn left, driving ~ 7 kms to the trailhead. It is not well marked, and is located on a turn with a small gravel parking area opposite the trailhead. If you’ve passed Hartley Lake, you’ve gone too far. The Hike This is THE most recognizable mountain in Fernie, alongside the Three Sisters, and standing on its peak is rewarding to say the least. The first section of the trail meanders through thick brush on a switch-backing, dirt trail which continually becomes steeper as you progress. You will reach the Ghostrider Peak, which is roughly 2/3 the way, and can continue along the rockier, steep climb to the “summit”. Caution is recommended when navigating this section, and it is not recommended for children. The vistas at either the Ghostrider Peak or summit are breathtaking, offering different view points of the valley and surrounding mountains.
5. Matheson Falls - Coal Creek Rd.
Difficulty Level - Green/Blue
Average Time - 30 Mins
Drive up Coal Creek to the bridge just past mileage 41, it will take about 15 minutes. Look for the trail on the uphill/east side of the creek; do not confuse it with the bike trail on the west side of the creek. Follow the game trail as it parallels the creek until it ends up in the creek, there should be a couple of yellow flags.
From then on, hop upstream on the rocks until you reach the base of the falls. I would say it is quite an easy hike for six year olds and up as long as you are able to watch your footing, wear shoes that can wade in water and are a bit limber. The falls are at their best on a sunny day.