Snow Shoe Routes to Explore this Winter
Sometimes, when the snow flies covering the Valley in a blanket of white, fluffy powder, instead of heading to the hill with the masses, a solo walk meandering in the trees is just what you need. Here are three of my three favourite places to “get lost” in winter.
Mt. Proctor - Fairy Creek Falls
Distance: 5km lout and back
Time: 1.5-2 hrs
This is a popular hike done by all ages, all year round, as it takes you to the base of the Fair Creek Fall. Stunning vistas, easy terrain and access make this trail a great and quick option any day! It does see a fair bit of traffic, so consider a pair of Icebugs if it’s packed down and pick up the pace!
The best way to access this trail is from the Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Info Centre. You’ll see were the trail begins to the right of the Centre, continuing behind as it climbs up the bank to connect to the Proctor trails. Don’t be discouraged - this is literally the only climbing of your journey! Once you reach the bench, you will continue left and walk alongside and above Fairy Creek as you make your way to the falls. Once you’ve arrived, enjoy the views and return the way you came. If you’re keen on breaking trail, consider climbing up Swine Flu and enjoy vistas overlooking the town of Fernie!
Provincial Park - Happy Gilmar Loop
Distance: 5km loop
Time: 1.5-2 hrs
A beautiful canopy of trees awaits you in the Proinvical Park, and there is just something meditative about walking through here. The light filters through branches, highlighting features and creating shadows. Sounds of snow falling around you, and crunching beneath your feet. It is definitely worth exploring, and Happy Gilmar is just one option of many! Add to this loop for a bigger day, I’ve added connected to Galloway to make my way over to the ski hill to join friends for Apres at the Griz Bar!
Park at the Provincial Park overflow lot (first left after the Elk Valley Nordic Centre). Take the Bridge View Connector Trail, and stay left onto Sherwoody. Continue left on Stumpy Woody, and turn right to stay on this trail. Continue onto Happy Gilmar, taking a right down Happy Gilmar completing a circle and connecting back with Sherwoody. Take the same route home!
Island Lake Lodge - Rail and Old Growth Trail
Distance: 6km One Way
Time: 2-2.5 hrs
If you haven’t ever visited the Old Growth Forest at Island Lake Lodge, this is a must. Even if you have in the summer months, this is still a must. These ancient beauties are magnificent in contrast with the stark white snow, and working your way between them as you climb to the Lodge is a fantastic way to spend a morning. May I suggest booking lunch ahead of time, and considering a spa package? Turn it into a day and enjoy the cat ride all the way down.
To access this route, drive past the Provincial Park until you arrive at the Island Lake lower parking lot. The trail begins from and the end of the upper of two lots with the Rail Trail. This trail is relatively flat, staying on the left side of the trail, and then crossing to the right where it brings you to the Old Growth Parking lot. Here, you will cross the trail again to the Old Growth trail head. Flat at first, soon you will be climbing steeper switchbacks. Stop at the Cabin Bowl intersection and take in the view before continuing. Once you reach the lake, stay right and make your way to the lodge for a deserved reward!
For more trail options, pick up a Trail Map at any of the Ski Shops or at the Info Centre, and make sure to visit FernieFix.com as we include all of our previous years’ routes here as well! Enjoy exploring this winter!