Easy to Access Winter Viewpoints
With snow completely changing the landscape, these beautiful and adventurous snowshoe spots are destined to provide a little winter magic.
Popular in the summer for its turquoise green water, winter brings sparkling frozen lakes and serenity.
Head West out of Fernie to the town of Elko (15 minutes), turning left immediately after the bridge. Drive through the residential area and turn left onto the gravel River Road. During peak winter, parking is only available on certain pullouts on the road. Begin your adventure to the first lake the same way as you would in the summer. Depending on the depth and type of snow, you may need to "work" your legs more. If the lake isn't frozen enough, there will be a small section where you will need to remove your snowshoes/skis to hike up to the top of the first lake.
If you're feeling really adventurous, the first lake offers the opportunity to walk across or even ice skate. Be sure to measure the thickness of the ice before going across as it's not monitored.
Note: At times River Road can require a 4x4.
Island Lake Lodge
An easily accessible lodge in the summer, allow yourself to experience the giant snow covered cedar trees of the Old Growth Forest and a cozy backcountry lodge amidst 7,000 acres of wilderness.
Drive through the Fernie Provincial Park, parking in the parking lot adjacent to the Island Lake sign. Enter the Rail trail leading directly from the lower parking lot (it will be marked) and begin your journey. An 8km route (two hours one way) offers a great workout and leads through forests, opening up at various points to offer gorgeous views of the Lizard Range, the famous Three Bears peaks and who knows, maybe even a moose!
Plan ahead and extend your winter adventure by experiencing Island Lake's Winter Lunch and Spa. Available Thursday to Sunday, you can choose to ride up in a snowcat or snowshoe up (it makes a great day trip!) and enjoy a two-course meal next to a crackling fire, taking in the mountain vistas from inside the Tamarack Lodge. Lunch reservations are required 24 hours in advance, so be sure to book a spot ahead of time!
It's easy to get a panoramic view of Fernie in the winter from the ski resort, but with moderate effort, you can get the same gorgeous view from a snowshoe adventure.
Access Coal Creek Rd from town and park adjacent to the second bridge crossing Coal Creek on your right (River Rd). Follow River Road as it climbs and begins to offer spectacular views of Mt. Fernie and the Three Sisters. Continue your adventure until you reach the second road on your left and begin to follow it as it ascends. At the top of this switchback road you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of Fernie and the valley and is a great adventure in the backcountry surrounded by the glistening snow.
Note: The parking lot adjacent to the River Rd Bridge can see high traffic in the winter from outdoor enthusiasts.
For more winter adventures follow Christine Thompson @mtnlifephoto on Instagram.