Cana­dian Trails

Fernie, B.C.

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - By Adam Camp­bell Adam Camp­bell is a lawyer and pro trail run­ner based in Cal­gary.

Lo­cated in the Elk Val­ley area of the East Koote­nay re­gion of south­east­ern B.C., the city of Fernie has moved away from its rough and tum­ble min­ing roots into an alpine par­adise with a strong his­tory of ski­ing, moun­tain bik­ing and world-class f ly fish­ing. Thanks to the ever grow­ing net­work of trails, races, re­sources and run­ning groups it now also has a bur­geon­ing trail run­ning scene. Although still largely undis­cov­ered, Fernie is a trail run­ning desti­na­tion for the whole fam­ily, boast­ing a beau­ti­ful and whole­some town, a strong lo­cal cul­tural and art scene, and cer­tainly not least – world­class out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. The town­site was laid out by coal min­ers at the end of the 19th cen­tury in the crook of a dog­legged glacial val­ley and is fully en­cir­cled by the Rocky Moun­tains. To the north of the city lie Mount Fernie, Mount Klauer, the Three Sis­ters and Mount Proc­tor. To the north­east is Mount Hos­mer, to the east is Fernie Ridge, to the south­east is Mor­ris­sey Ridge with the stun­ning Cas­tle Moun­tain crown­ing it and to the south­west are the var­i­ous peaks of the Lizard Range. The Lizard Range is home to Fernie Alpine Re­sort, one of the largest ski re­sorts in Canada and widely re­garded as a leg­endary moun­tain bik­ing lo­ca­tion, and Is­land Lake Catski­ing lodge.

When the snow isn’t fall­ing, the var­i­ous forests, val­leys and moun­tains of­fer a true plethora of run­ning op­tions to suit run­ners of all cal­i­bres, from glaciated peaks and ridge scram­bles for Skyrun­ners, to bike paths and for­est jaunts for those who pre­fer to stick to the val­leys and f lat­ter re­gions. There are over 300 kilo­me­tres of rec­og­nized sin­gle­track trails in the re­gion which would keep even the most diehard of ul­tra­run­ners en­ter­tained for years. Re­gard­less of where you ven­ture, you will be over­taken by the beauty and wild na­ture of the Rocky Moun­tains that catch your eye from ev­ery cor­ner.

Due to the vast amount of ter­rain in the re­gion you could spend a life­time in the area and not run ev­ery pos­si­ble trail or moun­tain. The quan­tity and qual­ity of the ter­rain is over­whelm­ing. As a sign

of the com­mit­ment of the area to en­cour­age and pro­mote run­ning off-road, Tourism Fernie has a great on­line list of trail run­ning sug­gested routes that will help point you in the right direc­tion and will of­fer a great chal­lenge for any vis­i­tor.

One of the best re­sources for run­ning in Fernie is Stag Leap Run­ning Co., a run­ning re­source started by a lo­cal hus­band and wife duo who have com­mit­ted t hem­selves to show­cas­ing run­ning in the Fernie re­gion. They of­fer weekly com­mu­nity runs, post­ing routes on Strava, and have started host­ing races in the re­gion. Most no­table is King of the Cas­tle, a lung- and leg-burn­ing 5k run with 677 m ver­ti­cal up to Cas­tle Rocks and one of the best views in town. The race is part of the an­nual Fernie Roll & Sole Fes­ti­val, which in­cludes a Trails in Mo­tion Trail Run­ning Film Fes­ti­val night. An­other new of­fer­ing in 2017 is the Elk Val­ley Ul­tra, a 50k race with 2,800 m of ver­ti­cal and 95 per cent on sin­gle­track. The course has been de­signed to link up some of Fernie’s best trails and views and will likely quickly be­come a mar­quee event in the ever-grow­ing trail ul­tra-scene in Canada. The race can be run solo, or as a three-per­son re­lay for the less masochis­tic.

With its quickly grow­ing scene, Fernie will not re­main a trail run­ning lo­cal ’s se­cret for much longer.

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