Off the Grid Adventures with Family
Fernie really does have it all when it comes to summer adventures with your kids. Here are three (or four) of my personal favourites that are a little off the beaten track.
It feels like you have stepped into another world; dense rainforest and cedars slung with bright green moss. Rickety bridges across little creeks. A long cascading waterfall aptly named Tumbling Waters. Watergate; a remarkable spout of H2O pouring straight out of a rocky ledge. Add wooden ladders to assist in getting up steeper terrain, and top it off with Bisaro Cave, an impressive gaping cavern etched in the side of the mountain. This trail has all the ingredients for a cool excursion.
How to get there: Drive NW on Hartley Lake Rd for 10.6 km making sure to stay on the 'main' road. This road is narrow and steep in places and may require 4×4. At the 7km road marker (measured from Bull River rather than Hwy 3) turn left into a clearing. If you don’t have 4×4 you will need to park here and walk 3km to trailhead. It takes 30-40mins to walk. If you do have 4×4 you can navigate the large mud/water holes, and close bushes/trees and drive those 3km to the 3 Sisters/Heiko’s trailhead.
What you need: Solid footing; the trail is steep and narrow in places.
Insider Tips: If the water is low, take a flashlight and head back into the darkness of Bisaro Cave for a mini adventure! It takes a fair while to get to the trailhead, so make a day of it. The hike takes 30mins-1 hr each way.
This trail is rated as 'very difficult' with 750m of elevation gain and just over 3km of hiking to get to the peak. It makes a great family hike so long as you go slow and steady and take lots of breaks at the amazing view points. Big elevation gives a BIG sense of accomplishment. The panorama from the summit is spectacular – See it all; the Lizard Range, Mt Fernie and the City of Fernie, Three Sisters, Mt Hosmer, the Elk Valley and other rocky peaks as far as the eye can see.
How to get there: A 4x4 is recommended to navigate the logging roads to the trailhead. Drive 2km along Coal Creek Road. Turn left onto Rifle Range Road. Go right at first fork,left at second fork, and then hard right at third fork. The road gets a bit sketchy from here with a deep mud puddle that eats 2wd cars. Use the Trailforks app to find the trailhead which is in the middle of a clear-cut and can be difficult to find.
What you need: Plenty of water and food, sturdy shoes and bear spray.
Insider Tips: There are several spots where it is very steep with switchbacks and drop-offs. Keep an eye out for your kids and hold their hand where necessary to keep them safe.
Looking for a cool adventure on a hot summer’s day? Matheson Falls is the place! Though it is only a short walk (about an hour with kids who are in explore-mode) it feels more significant and adventurous because the trail only lasts about 100m before dipping into the creek bed. Navigating through boulders, over logs and slippery rocks, the beautiful falls is about 1km from the parking area.
Insider Tips: Go when the water is low. Take a picnic. Have a contest to see who can swim in the pool underneath the waterfall the longest!
How to get there: Travel about 10km east up Coal Creek Rd from Fernie. Drive over a little bridge just past mile marker 41. Park on left side of road in large pull-out. The trail begins on right ride of road.
What you need: Swimsuit, grippy shoes to get wet while hiking in the water.
Local Swimming Holes
Fernie has many inviting and picturesque places to take a dip and play in the heat of summer. We enjoy several different spots in the Elk River, particularly between the Golf Course and James White Park and a variety of places up Coal Creek and Lizard Creek. I suggest you just go for a hike in your swimsuits and water shoes and see what you come up with!
How to get there: By vehicle or foot. Choose your own adventure!
Insider Tips: Play safe. Put your kid in a life jacket if they don't swim well and avoid areas with wood in the water that create a strainer hazard.
Leanne Nanninga and her husband operate Born to Adventure, offering professional photography and guiding for those keen on capturing their next adventure. borntoadventure.com