We go to Fernie a lot in the summer and have spent the past several years exploring the many hiking trails in the area. A favourite place to go has been Island Lake, a beautiful mountain lake located up a winding dirt road that travels through Mt. Fernie Provincial Park. We usually just walk around the lake with the kids — or canoe on it — but this summer we had the opportunity to leave the children in Fernie with Grammie and spend a night at Island Lake Lodge to celebrate our anniversary (16 years!). This meant we could graduate beyond the lake trail to the more difficult ascents above timberline.
The lodge is best known as a cat-skiing base during the winter, when feet of epic Fernie powder fall on the slopes that surround the lake like an amphitheatre. Come summer the area transforms into a beautiful mountain sanctuary, with old growth cedar forests giving way to sub-alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers and rocky escarpments inhabited by marmots and pikas.
We opted for Spineback Trail, a hike that climbs 530 metres over 3.5 kilometres up a ridge. The payoff? It’s a great workout and there’s a lovely wooden bench at the trail’s terminus that affords an eagle’s eye view of Island Lake and the lodge far below.
We boogied back in a short but insistent rain storm and headed straight for the hot tub to help us warm up and rejuvenate our over-tired muscles. Then it was time for a rich dinner of duck, lobster, creme brûlée and lots of wine, served in the main lodge. The mountain air afforded us a sleep in (kid-free, hooray!) and we emerged for a buffet breakfast and a short hike around the lake. There wasn’t a lot of time to luxuriate in our cozy room in Cedar Lodge (complete with balcony and mountain view), but the point of an escape to Island Lake is to get active in a breathtakingly beautiful place. What a great way to spend our anniversary — doing something we love, together, in the mountains. We’ll be back!