An Introduction to the Epic MTB Destination of Fernie, BC

Ridgemont Trail System, Fernie, BC. Rider: Ryan Kikauka

British Columbia is filthy-rich with mountain bike destinations. One day over lunch I asked our guides, Ryan and Johanna, to tell me what they thought the best under-the-radar mountain bike destinations in BC were. As they started naming off towns left and right, they quickly reached a list of about a dozen spots that were well-worth visiting… and they didn’t even name Whistler, Squamish, Kamloops, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Revelstoke, Golden, Kelowna, Pemberton, and others. Because, you know… those destinations are too well-known and overcrowded already.

One destination that falls squarely in British Columbia’s first-tier destinations list that didn’t need to be mentioned either, because we’d just spent three days sampling the goods on our Sacred Rides Rocky Mountain Bring Your Partner Adventure, is the town of Fernie.

Fernie Debrief

View of the town of Fernie from Fernie Alpine Resort’s mountaintop chalet

Fernie is a small mountain town not dissimilar from my hometown of Salida: 5,000 people call Fernie home, but many of the houses in town are owned by second home owners. Calgarians flood into town every weekend, bringing with them both mountain bikes and tourism dollars.

Yet there are key differences, too: a ski resort towers high above the town of Fernie, and despite being home to over 100 named mountain bike trails in the summer and world-renowned powder skiing in the winter, tourism is only the third-largest economic driver. The first is an open pit coal mine nearby. The second? Logging.

I was in awe of an old mining truck in nearby Sparwood

Despite visionaries in the mountain biking and skiing industries pushing for tourism as a sustainable, long term source of income, resource extraction-based industries are still dominant in Canada… much to the chagrin of some environmentally-minded locals. But despite that dissonance, mountain biking and logging continue to coexist, with trails being quickly cleared of downed trees after clear cutting is finished.

The web of singletrack running up and down the mountains and literally ringing the valley only continues to expand.

A Fernie Mountain Biking Sampler

Red Sonja car ride. Rider: Greg Heil

Fernie is home to some absolutely gnarly mountain bike trails, such as Dirt Diggler, Big Money, and Slunt (look that one up in Urban Dictionary). Yet we didn’t get to ride any of those trails on the Bring Your Partner trip. According to Ride Director and Lead Guide for Sacred Rides BC, Ryan Kikauka, the type of highly-technical trails that I prefer to ride are not suitable for Sacred Rides clients.

At first, I was a bit disappointed by that answer… but then I watched the video of Nate Hills and his friends riding Dirt Diggler, and after observing how sketchy and loose they got on that descent–with several crashes mixed in–I’m pretty confident that trying to ride that trail would not have ended well for me… not to mention my fellow guided-cohorts.

Ok, we did ride a few trails that were NO JOKE, but this was an optional ride. The upper trails at the resort are absolutely FILLED with rocks. Rider: Adam C.

Ah, who am I kidding: out of everyone in the group, I took one of the hardest crashes of the week, per usual. So while perhaps I think I would have preferred slightly more challenging trails on this trip, Ryan’s trail choices showed wisdom and restraint, providing everyone on the trip with a superb mountain bike experience on fantastic singletrack… without getting too beat up. Ryan also noted that if you’re looking to take a Sacred Rides trip to this region and are a glutton for punishment, the Ultimate BC is the trip for you. It will fully satisfy your desire for technical trails and lots of shredding with 12 days of hardcore riding.

So while these aren’t the gnarliest trails in Fernie, if you’re looking for a sampler that won’t leave you bloody and broken, this is a good place to start:

Click to page 2 for a breakdown of the trails we rode.

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