Cross Country Exploration on Two Wheels

Photo by Jordan Boratynec

Every year, I come up with different trails and loops to recommend to locals and visitors. You would think coming up with something new might be difficult, but it’s actually quite the opposite! We are so blessed in this Valley. The multitude of passionate bikers has meant years of dedication to trail building and maintenance, the majority done solely for the purpose of exploring this vast terrain on two wheels. The result has been an expansive trail network, offering a little (or more accurately a lot) for everyone.

Here are three great options to check off your list this summer, all approachable for the beginner, great for recovery or training rides, and easy to add to if out there for a full-day affair. For additional options, make sure to visit Fix Favourites where you will find a plethora of route options for all levels and types of riding.

Small: Mount Fernie Provincial Park to Fernie Alpine Resort
Level: Green/Blue
Distance: Approximately 10km, return
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Starting on the Bridge View Connector just below the campsite (adjacent to the Elk Valley Nordic Centre), climb or walk your bike up the short steep hill and continue on Sherwoody/Stumpy Woody until it meets up with Ben Emmett. This is a meandering trail through beautiful Cedar stands, that will take you all the way to the Cedar Trail at the base of Fernie Alpine Resort.

From here, you have options. A. Continue to the hill for a coffee and snack, taking in the view. B. Go back the way you came. C. Turn right and climb Cedar Trail until it meets up with Mega Hurtz single track. Take Mega Hurtz, Old Goat and Happy Gilmar to meet back up with Sherwoody, and where you started.

Medium: The Great Trail to South Castle and Montane
Level: Blue
Distance: Approximately 15km, return
Estimated Time: 1.5-2.5 hours

Starting from the Fernie Aquatic Centre, head out on the Coall Creek Heritage Trail until it connects with the Trans Canada Trail (The Great Trail) which will lead you to Coal Creek Road. Cross the road, and take River Road across the yellow bridge. To your right, you will see the Great Trail pick up again. Continue on this trail, as it turns into Ruby’s Way. Follow Ruby’s Way up to River Road, crossing again to hook onto New Roots. Climb this until you reach the Hyper sign, turn right down Roots. When you reach a small opening turn left picking up the Great Trail again on Snoop Lion. This fun, fast section takes you to an opening, where it intersects South Castle. Take a right down the single track crossing River Road, and connect here (to the left) to La Bamba. A bit more technical in sections, this meets up with lower Montane which you can take all the way back to the Red Barn. From here, cross Coal Creek Road, and take the short climb to meet back up with Heritage Trail and back to where you started at the Aquatic Centre!

Large: Town to Island Lake
Level: Blue/Black
Distance: Approximately 30km, return
Estimated Time: 3-4 hours

Begin at the West Fernie Bridge, heading up Burma Road to the Phat Bastard trail access (pullout area on your left). Take Phat Bastard, climbing through a beautiful tree stand with plenty of roots and other technical features to keep you on your toes. Continue across the powerline to Mushroom Head, enjoy a breather and views at the bench before enjoying the fun descent down to Dem Bones and into the Park. From here, take a right onto Stove Trail and a left onto the Lazy Lizard Connector. Keep on this trail as it flows into Lazy Lizard, and gently makes its alongside the Island Lake Road. After crossing the powerline, the trail gains more elevation unti you reach its apex and a fabulous location for lunch on the deck of Bear Lodge (consider booking ahead of time to ensure you get a seat). Once finished, enjoy a fun and flowy descent (beware of uphill climbers). Once back at the park, take a left to climb Stove Trail, then make your way back up Mushroom Head to Red Sonja, ending on yet another fantastic down.

The Fernie Trails Alliance is an umbrella organisation for member clubs the Fernie Mountain Bike Club, Stag Leap Running Co., Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club, Fernie Nordic Centre and Island Lake Lodge, working with government and private land owners to enhance and maintain Fernie’s Trail Network. Please respect the trails, and the generosity of the many Private Land Owners who allow access to their property.