Nordic Adventures with Your Four-Legged Friends
Opportunities abound in Fernie when it comes to getting out and about with your four-legged friends. While the Nordic Centre and Golf Course are STRICTLY for Nordic Skiing ONLY do not despair.
There are three fantastic spots to lash on your skis, leash up fido, and get sliding on snow. All are groomed regularly and offer something for everyone.
Close to town is the Montane area, which is fantastic because it has well groomed Nordic ski ONLY trails that your dog can join you on. The network is extensive and the key to success is to follow the green signs. If in doubt, take the wider path. The single track is best for snowshoeing and fat biking. There are three main ways up to the warming hut. Two are more gradual climbs. There are a few ‘steeper’ sections on these routes, but they are short and followed by gentle upslopes to the hut. The third way is a classic Fernie straight up, not for the light of heart. Park by the bridge on Coal Creek Road, go past the barrier and just to the left of the Montane development sign you will see the beginning of the track. You can climb clockwise or counterclockwise. I suggest you download the Trailforks app and select Nordic skiing to see the routes in the area.
Fernie Alpine Resort also has some great Nordic skiing once you are up the initial hill. There is no shame on walking up the start hill, in fact I would say it is HIGHLY recommended. Whenever I try to ski up it, whether on classic or skate skis I am so super sad, the rest of the ski is slightly tainted, which is not the case when I walk up. Once up to the start there are two loops available. Early season it is only the first loop that is groomed and skiable. Approximately 3.5kms, on classic skis it is a nice sojourn with a few ups. On skate skis, the hill starting off the counterclockwise loop will get the blood pumping but after that the terrain is full of a pumping trail, little ups and downs, that when co-ordination is on your side are so much fun.
Once the season has developed take the time to do the extended loop. If you are uneasy on Nordic skis, stick to the bottom track (Silk Trail) to get out to the Scandia Loop. Once there stay right to take the loop counterclockwise. As you begin to circle back you will find the most beautiful glade of birch trees on your right. If the weather is good, take off your skis and walk over to the ridge. The view is a stunning look across to the other side of the Elk Valley/Morrissey Ridge.
Last but not least is the Island Lake Lodge access route. We are incredibly fortunate that Island Lake puts in a cross country trail for everyone to use which they often groom twice a day. You will need an AWD or 4WD vehicle to get to the Island Lake parking lot past the provincial park. Once there please use the lower parking lot where the cross country access is. The path is wide and a great place to get the whole family out. Use it as an out and back to go for as long or as short as you like. For a quick 40 min outing with fido go to the bottom of the big hill just before cabin corner. You can also ski all the way up to the lodge where they have dog beds outside so if it’s not too cold you can stop for lunch, Don’t forget to book before heading up.
Anyway you look at it, Fernie is a great place for Nordic skiing with your dog, and every trail you end up on can be made easy or hard by the pace you set. So get sliding with your four-legged friends, and don’t forget to flick or pick up after your dog - no-one wants to add stickiness to their skis that way.
Photo by Vince Mo