Buy Now! "200 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta" - Published June 2022

Cross-country skiing on the dog-friendly trail near the Fernie Golf Course

Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing in Fernie

A complete guide to exploring the Fernie area trails

Last updated:

Fernie, British Columbia is a winter lover’s paradise, famous for its epic dumps of fluffy powder. People from around the world are drawn here for its excellent downhill skiing and snowboarding but what many don’t realize is that this gorgeous mountain town, located in the Elk Valley, is also a fantastic destination for anyone who enjoys cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Four unique areas beckon both classic and skate skiers and a minimum of three areas near Fernie are ideal for those who love snowshoeing. 

In this blog, I’ve described where to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Fernie, the costs if any involved, and what the experience is like. You’ll find all trails are within 10 minutes of downtown Fernie, so city dwellers will find access is ridiculously easy. There are several places to rent equipment, so all you need to do is get here. And that’s described too.

For more inspiration, check out my Instagram reels – one on snowshoeing in Fernie and the other showcasing cross-country skiing in Fernie.

The dramatic Lizard Range is the backdrop for Fernie's Main Street
The dramatic Lizard Range is the backdrop for Fernie’s Main Street

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you very much for your support.

What you should know before you cross-country ski or snowshoe in Fernie

The mountains don’t suffer fools. It’s up to you to take personal responsibility and learn how to be safe before you head out on any cross-country skiing or snowshoeing adventure in Fernie. Preparation is key, especially as weather changes quickly in the mountains. What may start off as a warm, sunny day may end up as a blizzard with limited visibility and falling temperatures. 

Be smart and do the following:

  • Tell someone where you’re going and your expected time back. This is important for everyone, whether you’re going solo or with a group.
  • Check the weather forecast before you head out. 
  • None of the trails described take you into avalanche country but if you get off trail, you need to know what you’re doing. Check out the Avalanche Canada website before you go for their latest forecasts.
  • Pick up a map of the winter trails at the Fernie Visitor Centre. There is also the option to download the TrailForks App on your phone. Search for Fernie and your phone will show your location.
  • Follow the guidelines for staying safe on outdoor adventures suggested by Adventure Smart.

Where to go cross-country skiing in Fernie

If you’re into cross-country skiing, you might feel a little jealous of the local population. From anywhere in town, it’s no more than a 10-minute drive to access a cross-country ski trail. There are four unique areas for cross-country skiing – the Fernie Golf Club, the Elk Valley Nordic Centre, the Montane Trails, and Fernie Alpine Resort. Across the four areas, there are more than 45 km of groomed trails to explore.

Fernie Golf Course – Fernie Dyke Combo

Location: From the Crowsnest Pass Highway (Highway 3), turn south on 15th Street. Turn left on 6th Avenue and right on Fairway Drive. Follow it for 750 metres to reach the parking area.

Cost: Look for the kiosk near the clubhouse. Deposit cash in the locked box. Fees are $15 per person for a daily pass or $25 for a family. You can also send an e-transfer to [email protected] If you’re planning to ski more than once or twice consider buying a seasons pass online. It’s also good for the Elk Valley Nordic Centre. Parking is free.

Dogs: They are not allowed on any of the golf course trails but they are on the Fernie Dyke.

Experience: Head to the Fernie Golf Course if you’re after a quick workout or you’re a beginner skier. Have a look at the trail map beside the clubhouse and then take off and explore 8 km of groomed trails. None are difficult as there is almost no elevation change. There’s a lot of variety on the trail – including beautiful sections through the trees, some neighbourhood skiing, and a pretty section near the Elk River. 

There is also the option to ski a section of the 4-km long, dog-friendly Fernie Dyke trail. That’s what John and I did – and discovered a premier view along the Elk River. (See the top photo of me in red.)

View of the Elk River from the trails at the Fernie Golf Club
View of the Elk River from the trails at the Fernie Golf Club
Gorgeous backdrop for cross-country skiing in Fernie at the Fernie Golf Club
Gorgeous backdrop for cross-country skiing in Fernie at the Fernie Golf Course
You wouldn't know you were cross-country skiing at a Golf Couse here
You wouldn’t know you were cross-country skiing at a Golf Course here
There is one trail at the Fernie Golf Club where you might see a train
There is one trail at the Fernie Golf Club where you might see a train

Cross-country skiing the Montane Trails in Fernie

Location: Take 4th Street to Pine Avenue and turn right to go past the Fernie Aquatic Centre. Turn left on Coal Creek Road and drive through a neighbourhood. Continue a short distance past the large barn (on your right) and turn right into a large parking lot.

Cost: Free but donations are welcomed by the Coal Creek Heritage Society. They provide grooming and maintenance. 

Dogs: Not permitted on the Nordic trails.

Experience: The cross-country ski trails start at the information booth across the river from the parking lot. There are approximately 10 km of trails that are groomed for Nordic skiing only. They are called Montane Green. You can do a short loop of about 5 km from the kiosk or a long loop that includes the Montane Hut, but it requires more elevation gain. On a clear day, this is a particularly lovely destination as the views are terrific up and down the Elk Valley. There are picnic tables, benches, and a fire pit to enjoy a break before the fun, fast descent.

Had the cross-country ski trails in the Montane area to ourselves
We had the cross-country ski trails in the Montane area to ourselves
Cross-country skiing in Fernie on the Montane Green trail
Who needs a bluebird day when its snowing hard and the trails are a delight?

Elk Valley Nordic Centre 

Location: Follow the Crowsnest Pass Highway to Mount Fernie Park Road, signed for Island Lake Lodge. Head west for 750 m and turn left to reach the parking lot. There are a couple of porta-pottys here.

Cost: It’s $15 cash per person or $25 for a family. You can put it in the lockbox at the trailhead or give it to a volunteer at the warming hut if it’s over a weekend. You can also send an e-transfer to [email protected] If you’re planning to ski more than once or twice consider buying a seasons pass online. It’s also good for the Fernie Golf Club. Parking is free.

Dogs: Not permitted.

Experience: Enjoy 10 km of professionally designed and groomed trails that weave through the forest, offering views of the Lizard Range. There are lots of loops to ski, including the expert Lizard Creek – Galloway Loop that takes you to Fernie Alpine Resort. It’s a fun one for the advanced skier as there are some long rolling downhills – and some steep sections that will test your conditioning. 

When you need to warm up, stop by the wood-heated warming at the trailhead. On weekends and over holidays, ambassadors are around to answer questions or even sell you a hat if you’ve forgotten one. There are trail maps inside so you can plan your route. It’s a great place to eat lunch and meet people.

Cross-country skiing on the quiet Lizard Loop Trail
Cross-country skiing on the quiet Lizard Loop Trail
There's a cozy warming hut open on weekends at the Fernie Nordic Centre
There’s a cozy warming hut open on weekends at the Fernie Nordic Centre

Cross-country skiing at Fernie Alpine Resort

Location: The ski resort is about 7 km from downtown Fernie. To get there take the Crowsnest Pass Highway west to reach Fernie Ski Hill Road. There’s good signage so the turnoff is easy to find. Stay on it until you reach Parking Lot 4, basically at the end of the road. 

Cost: Free

Dogs: Permitted on a leash.

Experience: From Parking Lot 4 at the southwest side of Fernie Alpine Resort, there are several loops to cross-country ski including the 3-km Double Creek Loop right out of the parking lot, the 3.8-km Silk Trail – Manchuria loop and the hillier, 4.5-km long Scandia Loop. All trails are groomed and track-set for both skate and classic skiing but they must be shared with winter walkers, fat tire bikers, and snowshoers. The trails are open to the public from December through April, conditions permitting. 

On Sundays you can sign up for a guided 2-hour cross-country ski through a beautiful forest filled with magnificent trees. Contact Fernie Alpine Resort for more information.

You can both skate and classic skis at Fernie Alpine Resort - Photo credit: Tourism Fernie
You can both skate and classic skis at Fernie Alpine Resort – Photo credit: Tourism Fernie

Where to go snowshoeing in Fernie

There are three main areas for snowshoeing in Fernie – the Montane trails, the trails in Mount Fernie Provincial Park, and the multi-use trails at Fernie Alpine Resort. 

Montane Trails

Location: From downtown Fernie take 4th Street to Pine Avenue and turn right to go past the Fernie Aquatic Centre. (You may have to wait for a train to get across the tracks.) Turn left on Coal Creek Road and drive through a neighbourhood. Continue a short distance past the large barn (on your right) and turn right into a large parking lot.

Cost: Free but donations are welcomed by the Coal Creek Heritage Society. They provide grooming and maintenance. 

Dogs: Permitted

Experience: The snowshoeing experience on the Montane trails is first-rate. I highly recommend the 11-km Montane Blue loop. It takes you up to Montane Hut where you can warm up on cold days or sit outside and enjoy grand views of the Elk Valley on warm days. On the return you pass close to homes in the Montane neighbourhood if you stick to the Montane Blue Trail.

But there are other options if you prefer not to see signs of civilization. Those with energy to burn can continue from the hut up Roots and Hyperventilation to the Hyperventilation Viewpoint. Ideally you want a clear day so you can enjoy the view.

You can also descend on Montane Blue to Uprooted and continue to the trailhead. The bottom line is there are numerous options – and more than I’ve described here – if you like to explore. Be sure to have a trail map with you or take a picture of the one at the kiosk. There is lots of signage, but I still found some of it confusing.

A detailed map of the Montane trails network at the trailhead
A detailed map of the Montane trails network at the trailhead
Phenomenal snowshoeing conditions on the Montane Trail network
Phenomenal snowshoeing conditions on the Montane Trail network
The Montane Hut is a great destination on snowshoes, cross-country skis or on a fat bike
The Montane Hut is a great destination on snowshoes, cross-country skis or on a fat bike
There is a wood stove in the hut but I'd recommend bring ing fire starter
There is a wood stove in the hut but I’d recommend bringing fire starter

Mt. Fernie Provincial Park

Location: Follow the Crowsnest Pass Highway (#3) to Mount Fernie Park Road, signed for Island Lake Lodge. Head west for 1.1 km and turn right into the Mount Fernie Provincial Campground. This is the trailhead for Dem Bones, Stove Trail, Hedonism, Brokeback and the Lazy Lizard Connector. 

There is also an option to drive another 800 m to park by the Gorby Bridge. From here you can access a network of trails in Mount Fernie Provincial Park.

Cost: Free

Dogs: Permitted on leash.

Experience: On a mid-December trip to Fernie, I had the immense pleasure of snowshoeing up Stove Trail and down Hedonism, a loop of about 5 km, starting from the parking lot at the Mount Fernie Provincial Campground. The snow was phenomenal – dry, fluffy, and plentiful. Although we didn’t get any views, the forest itself is a beauty with some truly stunning old-growth trees in a mature forest.

There are several more loops you can do from the campground including the 4.5 km Stove Trail – Dem Bones loop and the 5.5 km Hedonism and Brokeback Loop. Once the snow is packed down, be aware of fat bikers as this is their playground too.

There are more trails accessed at the Gorby Bridge trailhead, just 800 metres down the road from the campground. One I particularly like because of the massive trees is the out and back on the Sherwoody and Woody trails combination.  

There is a trail map at the kiosk in Mt. Fernie Provincial Park
There is a trail map of the snowshoeing trails at the kiosk in Mount Fernie Provincial Park
Fortunately someone had snowshoed on Stove Trail before us so it wasn't so much work
Fortunately someone had snowshoed on Stove Trail before us so it wasn’t much work to break trail
It was a real winter wonderland on the Hedonism Trail
It was a real winter wonderland on the Hedonism Trail
Cross the Gorby Bridge to access more snowshoeing trails in Mount Fernie Provincial Park
Cross the Gorby Bridge to access more snowshoeing trails in Mount Fernie Provincial Park
Some grand trees on the Sherwoody Trail accessed from the Gorby Bridge
Some grand trees on the Sherwoody Trail accessed from the Gorby Bridge

Fernie Alpine Resort

Location: The ski resort is about 7 km from downtown Fernie. To get there take the Crowsnest Pass Highway west to reach Fernie Ski Hill Road. There’s good signage so the turnoff is easy to find. Stay on it until you reach Parking Lot 4, basically at the end of the road. 

Cost: Free

Dogs: Allowed on a leash.

Experience: We didn’t have much time to snowshoe at Fernie Alpine Resort but what little I saw was beautiful, especially the forest of mature cedar trees. Expect some elevation gain, even on the Double Creek Loop closest to the parking lot. You can continue for another 8.3 km if you’re up for including all the loops.

There is an option to sign up for a 2-hour, 3-hour, 4-hour, or evening guided snowshoe tour. Equipment rentals are provided. Depending on the tour you take, you can enjoy a mix of groomed and single-track trails, some with superb views of the Lizard Range. 

Snowshoeing past giant trees at the Fernie Alpine Resort
Snowshoeing past giant trees at the Fernie Alpine Resort

Where to rent snowshoes and cross-country skis in Fernie

It’s easy to rent any sports equipment you need – whether it be cross-country skis, boots, poles or snowshoes from Gear Hub, located at 1441 7th Avenue.

If you head to Fernie Alpine Resort, you’ll find the Rental Shop in the base area plaza. You can rent both skate and classic skis as well as snowshoes.

When is the best time in winter to visit Fernie?

Fernie Alpine Resort is open from December until mid-April, so that should give you a good idea of when to visit Fernie. The amount of snow Fernie receives varies from year to year, but it is known for its epic dumps. I visited the week before Christmas 2022 and the snow levels were already at mid-January levels so be prepared for yearly variations. 

If you want consistently great snow for cross-county skiing and snowshoeing my recommendation would be to visit from mid-December to late March.

Catching one of Fernie's fabulous dumps of snow is the best time to be in town - but hard to know when that will be
Catching one of Fernie’s fabulous dumps of snow is the best time to be in town – but hard to know when that will be

How to get to Fernie

If you don’t have a car, you can either rent one (be sure to ask for snow tires) but if wintry driving isn’t your thing, then book one of the shuttles services listed below.

From Calgary count on a 3 – 3.5-hour drive depending on weather conditions. If it’s not windy I recommend taking Highway 22, the Cowboy Highway at least in one direction. If you’re coming from Cranbrook allow an hour. If you’re starting in Kimberley plan on a 90-minute drive.

Kalispell, Montana – which has an airport – is about a 2 hour and 10 minute drive away. Anyone entering Canada will need a passport.

For those of you flying into Calgary, there is the option of the Airport Shuttle Express to Fernie. It’s a great choice if you’re traveling with a group.

Another good one for a group is the door to door service offered by AMPM Limo. The driver will meet you in the airport terminal.

Tunnel 49 offers daily, scheduled service between the Calgary Airport & Fernie in addition to airport transfers from three other cities – Kalispell, Montana, Cranbrook, BC, and Pincher Creek, Alberta. 

Resort Tours offers a shuttle from Cranbrook to Fernie.

A section of Highway 3 between Fernie and the Crowsnest Pass
A section of Highway 3 between Fernie and the Crowsnest Pass

Location map of snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails in Fernie

You can also download the 2022- 2023 Fernie winter trail map.

                                             

  • Click on the three dots in the top right hand corner to email a copy of the map to yourself or a friend.

Where to stay in Fernie

On the Crowsnest Pass Highway there is lots of choice including Park Place Lodge – a good choice for families because it’s got a large indoor pool.

Want to try to the tiny home experience in town? Check out the cute accommodation offered by Snow Valley Lodging.

If you want to stay up at the ski resort, perhaps because some of your party plan to ski or snowboard, check out the Griz Inn, a good choice if you want ski in – ski out accommodation. Lizard Creek Lodge is slightly nicer with a giant fireplace in the dining room area.

Restaurants to try in Fernie

Love Mexican food? How about tequila and mezcal? If you do, check out my top restaurant pick – Nevados on Main Street. The restaurant has an energetic vibe and extremely flavourful tacos. 

Chilango, open since May 2022, is another choice for authentic Mexican cuisine. The restaurant is located on the Crowsnest Highway at the corner of 13th Street. Be sure to order the delicious guacamole, and perhaps share a plate of tacos or enchiladas with your partner.

Need an Italian fix or even fondue on certain nights of the week?  Head to The Loaf on Main Street for big plates of homemade pasta along with lots of pizza options. 

I never made it to Bramasole Restaurant & Wine Bar but if you need a glass of wine and a charcuterie plate before a larger meal, this would be a great choice.  Head to Himalayan Spice Bistro if you’re after well-priced south Asian flavoured food.

 I love Big Bang Bagels and always take a bag of bagels back to Calgary with me. If you love great coffee, check out two on Main Street –  Rooftop Roasters and Freshies – one of the few places that is open by 7:30 AM. They both offer delicious made on the premises pastries too.

Love the colourful wall you see when you enter Chilango in Fernie
Love the colourful wall you see when you enter Chilango in Fernie
A quiet start to dining at The Loaf
A quiet start to dining at The Loaf on a wintry night

More things to do in Fernie, BC in winter

Over many visits to Fernie in winter, I’ve got some great ideas on more things to do in the area.

Want to spend time in the Golden – Invermere – Kimberley corridor?

***A big thank you to Tourism Fernie for hosting my stay. As always, thoughts and opinions are mine alone.***

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Where to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Fernie, BC

 

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop