The Trails of Island Lake
Fernie is a beautiful place to live. Many places have a great view, but perhaps nowhere are the surroundings more magical than around Island Lake Lodge. The drive up, through a forest that is quite unlike the rest of our woods, has lush greenery and large cedar trees, each one far more impressive than a whole stand of lodgepole pine. Alternatively, one can take the Old Growth Trail, and take one’s time walking up the four kilometres to the Lodge.
Island Lake Lodge has trails of all sorts, ranging from the pedestrian Island Lake Trail, to the adventurous Spineback Trail, to the more extreme Heiko’s Trail. To incentivize you to explore them all, Island Lake is holding a photo contest, called the “Iconic Photo Spots Contest.” They are selecting the grand prize winner on October 22, which includes a one thousand dollar voucher to Island Lake Lodge, and some North Face swag. Full details are available at islandlakecatskiing.com.
While one has to be careful to time it around the myriad of weddings that the Lodge holds, a short walk around the Lake Trail and cocktail on the balcony looking out at the surrounding mountain range is a lovely way to entertain your out of town guests. If you want to earn you drinks more than the leisurely stroll around the lake, you can ride Lazy Lizard from the Provincial Park which makes its way up to Island Lake. While it is far from the steepest climb in Fernie – there may be none gentler, over that distance - it can wear on you, as the kilometres tick by. The descent is friendly enough and, if you take it slow, it is a trail that is fun for the whole family, or you can ride it harder, as despite the traffic there are great sight lines.
That said, I think the best introduction to the area is the Old Growth Trail – if nothing else it is very well shaded. It is like hiking into a different world, the forest is of a different kind, older and I dare say prettier, than the forests just a few minutes away. The red cedar trees tower out of the lush moss and somehow the earth manages to hold a spongy texture. The trees were saved by logging executives, in a bygone time. While Fernie is technically a rainforest, we are most used to seeing precipitation in the winter! The Old Growth Trail is a glimpse of summer temperate rainforest that reminds us of our climate. As a hike, it’s a perfect adventure for friends and family of all levels. It only takes around an hour, which is the perfect warm up to having a gin and soda on the balcony at the Bear Lodge, overlooking the lake. If you’re lucky, you can opt to stay with the kids, while your compatriots return with a vehicle to shuttle you back down. In summer, the bike racks hold dozens and you are amongst friends who have hiked and biked their way to their extra-large Fernie Brewing Company bottles and delicious cocktails.
So get out there and go on a hike, maybe try your hand at finding the new “iconic” image of Island Lake Lodge, to see if you can win the purse!