Castle Mountain is Fernie’s most satisfying half-day hike and it’s one of it’s best mountain bike rides too – if you have the legs! The trail is interesting and varied, the views are spectacular, and there’s a satisfying summit too.
This and the area below Castle Mountain is also an excellent place to bike early in the season and after rainy stretches since snows melt early here and trails dry out quicker than elsewhere in the valley.
Start: There are numerous options and combinations possible for this trail, the marked route is best for mountain biking (2hrs/hard/7.5km):
Bikers can conveniently start at the Aquatic Centre parking lot (there’s a pump track and trials course here too for a warm up); head out of town on Cokato Road (beside the centre), then turn left on Castle Mountain Road to the trailhead on the map (see photos for this ride).
Hikers should park at the lot on Coal Creek road near the finish of the marked route and do it in reverse – returning to the start via the forestry road on the map (brown dotted line). Pencil in around 3hrs for the hike.
Directions: Many variations are possible and gpx files for some of them are downloadable via webpages here and here and here (though you’ll need to sign up for free with everytrail.com):
Bikers follow the broad trail below telegraph posts which climbs then dips before arriving at a dirt road, cross it to the trail – after that options are signposted.
Hikers cross the bridge and take the first left up a steep dirt road to a clearing at a powerline where you can pick up a trail opposite to follow to the summit. Watch for bikes!
Both groups will find that the trail takes you to a saddle just below Castle Mountain: a spur leads up to the summit which is very tricky for bikers. But bikers have two more excellent trails to veer off onto near the summit: South Castle, and its variation further up the trail Southern Comfort. Both will take you back to Cokato Road.