Explore Fernie and Kimberley

5-Day Nordic Getaway

By Tanya Koob

Choose the Kootenay Rockies in south eastern British Columbia for your cross-country ski getaway this winter, visit Fernie and Kimberley where you’ll find over 100 kilometres of trails waiting to be explored across 5 different trail networks.

Other highlights include ski in-ski out accommodations in Fernie, night skiing under the stars in Kimberley, skating across the world’s longest ice trail on Lake Windermere, and soaking in natural hot pools at Radium Hot Springs.

Day 1 – Calgary to Fernie

Leave Calgary and drive south via Highway 2, connecting to Highway 22 before turning west on Highway 3 for Fernie. For a rest break, stop in at the Frank Slide Historic Site as you pass through the Crowsnest Pass where there is an Interpretive Centre open year-round. Here you can learn all about Canada’s deadliest rockslide which buried an entire town (admission fees apply).  The drive without stops is approximately 3 hours (288 km from downtown Calgary.) 

Arrive in Fernie and check in to your hotel or resort. See a list of accommodation options on the Tourism Fernie website. For ski in-ski out accommodations consider staying at Fernie Alpine Resort where you can access groomed Nordic trails without driving to a trailhead.

If you’ve arrived early enough, you can head out for a short afternoon ski on the Montane Nordic and multi-use trail network near downtown Fernie. Here you’ll find trails groomed for classic or skate skiing along with multi-use trails for snowshoeing, walking, or fat biking.  Follow the groomed Montane Green Trail which leads to a scenic warming hut overlooking the Elk Valley in a pleasant 8 km round trip outing. 

Enjoy dinner at one of Fernie’s diverse restaurants before winding down at your hotel and resting up for a big day of skiing tomorrow. One of my personal favourite choices for dining is Nevados, a fun Latin inspired restaurant in downtown Fernie. And if you’re staying on-mountain at Fernie Alpine Resort, make sure you visit Cirque Restaurant & Bar (located in Lizard Creek Lodge) for one of your dinners. At Cirque you’ll find decadent gourmet cuisine along with the Ice Bar for an exciting Vodka tasting experience.

Day 2 – XC Ski Day in Fernie

Start your morning off with breakfast and pick up a lunch-to-go at the same time. I would suggest visiting Big Bang Bagels, Mugshots, or Freshies Café downtown. If you’re staying at Fernie Alpine Resort you’ll also find several breakfast/lunch options on site before heading out on the trails that leave right from the resort property.

Fueled up for the day, your first stop for skiing should be the Elk Valley Nordic Centre where you’ll find 10 km of groomed classic and skate trails for all abilities and a heated warming hut by the parking lot. 

You’ll also find 14 km of dedicated XC trails at the Fernie Alpine Resort which is ideal if you are staying in one of the condos on the ski hill. From the resort you can also access the Elk Valley Nordic Trails via a short connector trail.

Skiers will also find 12 km of beginner-friendly trails at the Fernie Golf Club groomed for classic and skate skiing. And finally, if you didn’t ski the Montane Trails yesterday, I’d recommend heading here for a couple of hours in the afternoon (or tomorrow morning before leaving Fernie.) 

The Montane Nordic trails along with the Fernie Alpine Resort trails are free for public use, while the trail systems at the Elk Valley Nordic Centre and the Fernie Golf Club require a trail pass. All fees can be paid on site.

Wrap up your day with another fantastic meal with options that include the Indian Kitchen (a favourite of mine, located in the Stanford Hotel at the edge of town) or The Brickhouse downtown (where you’ll find classic burgers and flatbread pizza.)

Day 3 – Fernie to Kimberley

Kimberley is a short 90 minute drive away, so you can enjoy a final ski around Fernie after checking out of your hotel, have lunch in town, and then depart early afternoon. Alternately if you’re keen to move on to your next destination, there are plenty of trails to explore in Kimberley.

Arrive in Kimberley and check in to your hotel or resort. See a list of accommodation options on the Tourism Kimberley website. And if you’ve arrived early enough and want to get out for a quick ski, head over to the Kimberley Nordic Club where you can do a short loop before dinner.

For dinner, I recommend heading downtown to the Bavarian themed platzl where you’ll find several great restaurants. My personal favourite is the Pedal and Tap, a casual restaurant that puts a fun spin on comfort food, but their amazing food is no secret so arrive early to get a table.

Alternately, see a large list of dining options here. And if you want to burn off a few calories before bed, the Nordic Centre is open for night skiing on a lovely 3.5 km lit loop.

Day 4 – Ski day in Kimberley

Nordic Skiing in Nelson BC

Start your morning off with breakfast and a lunch to go from the Snowdrift Café in the Platzl downtown, and then head to the Kimberley Nordic Club which hopefully you got the chance to visit for a short ski yesterday.

You can easily spend a full day exploring the 60+ km of groomed trails at this Nordic Centre, the largest XC trail system in the Kootenays. The trails are professionally maintained for both skate and classic skiing and while most trails are wide and double trackset, you’ll also find a great network of easy singletrack trails groomed for classic skiing and ideal for seeking a little more solitude.

There are also hundreds of ungroomed trails to explore including the Kimberley Nature Park trails adjacent to the Nordic Club. There are trail fees in effect to ski at the Kimberley Nordic Club but the nature park trails are free to use if you start from one of the trailheads in town.

Wrap up your day with a traditional Bavarian meal at the Old Bauernhaus Restaurant located on the edge of town near the Nordic Centre. The restaurant was first built more than 350 years ago in the German Alps before being deconstructed and shipped to Canada where it was rebuilt in Kimberley in 1987. The entire experience, food + setting, is one you won’t soon forget.

And again, if you want to experience skiing under the stars, return to the Nordic Centre in the evening to ski around the lit night loop. I’m also a fan of venturing onto the non-lit trails with a headlamp. (Perhaps a trail you already skied and are familiar with from your daytime visit.)

Day 5 – Kimberley to Calgary

Today you’re going to want to check out of your hotel early and grab a quick breakfast at one of the cafes in town because the drive back to Calgary is going to be action packed and full of fun as you head north to enjoy a different route home.

Destination one: Ski or Skate the Lake Windermere Whiteway

The Community of Windermere is just over an hour away and here you’ll find the Lake Windermere Whiteway, the world’s longest ice skating trail at over 30 km in length. The Toby Creek Nordic Centre also grooms a loop around the lake for classic and skate skiing 

Drive down to the public beach, and step into your skis or grab your ice skates for this fun adventure because you’re going to be skiing or skating down the lake to a pub for lunch in the neighboring community of Invermere. The distance is approximately 12 return with your lunch break in between.

The Station Pub is located across the road from Kinsman Beach in Invermere so make sure you pack your boots or shoes with you if you’re ice skating. (And you can bring your skis or skates with you to the pub.) I also recommend checking out your location on Google Maps so you end up at the correct beach in Invermere.

Day use fees of $5 per person are requested to support trail maintenance. They can be paid as you access the lake. And you’ll need to bring your own ice skates if you choose to skate. There are no rentals at the lake.

Destination two: Stop for a soak at the Radium Hot Springs pool 

From Windermere it is a 15 minute drive further north to the Village of Radium Hot Springs where the hot pools await. Enjoy a relaxing soak and then grab a coffee and snack for the road in town before hitting the road. I recommend the Bighorn Café where you’ll find no shortage of delicious baked goods to hold you over for the three hour drive back to Calgary through Kootenay and Banff National Parks.