180Elevation Gain (m)
It is dark and damp in the cedar old-growth forest beside Lizard Creek near Fernie. Trees with trunks over 2 m in diameter stand in a protected grove of old-growth cedars.

A dappled light drops through the dense canopy and the underbrush is impenetrably lush. In some areas the ground-level plants reach waist high, but depending on the light reaching the forest floor, the ground-level vegetation can also be very sparse in other sections along the trail. Growing under the canopy of trees is a vast diversity of plant species. In the spring, bright yellow glacier lilies blanket the forest openings. Pink trilliums attract attention between waist-high ferns, false hellebore and devil’s club. The avalanche slope southwest of the trail is thick with alders.

The Cabin Ridge trail can either be hiked for a short distance to just explore the old growth or hikers can climb the trail all the way up to the Thunder Meadows Hut. The hut is used predominantly by skiers in winter to reach Lizard Ridge and the steep and deep backcountry powder slopes of Snow Valley.

Island Lake Resort maintains the first kilometre of the trail, as it is on their private property and part of their Old Growth Trail.

Beyond that intersection, Cabin Ridge breaks off steeply on its own, south, toward Lizard Ridge and the cabin. There may be blowdowns and indistinct sections and loose rock near the cabin.

Thunder Meadows Hut

The following is a quote sent from the Fernie Trails & Ski Touring Club, formerly the Elk Valley Ski Touring Association. This name change more accurately describes their four-season outdoor activities in the Fernie area.

We are a non-profit BC Society that has a commercial backcountry licence for the Thunder Meadows Hut. We built the Thunder Meadows Hut in 1993 and manage it for public use to enhance ski touring and summer hiking in the Lizard Range. Our hut fees just cover our expenses for the permit fees, taxes, insurance and maintenance.

For contact information, see the club’s website, at, and also Contact Information and References.

Further explorations

Fernie Trails

Check out some of the many Fernie trails in entry #55 for more trails built and maintained by Fernie Trails & Ski Touring Club.

Island Lake Resort Trails

Island Lake Resort owns a large property on both sides of Lizard Creek. They maintain and sign hiking trails for their guests and the public. See their other trails listed from entry #61 to entry #63.

Old-growth cedar grove only

Rating: easy

Time: half day through old-growth cedar forest, unbridged small creek crossing, steep trail

Distance: 1 to 2 km in the old growth

Elevation gain: 180 m (600 ft.)

Continue to Thunder Meadows Hut

Rating: moderately long

Time: full long day to ridge

Distance: 3.8 km to Lizard Ridge

Elevation gain: 760 m (2,500 ft.) to Lizard Ridge

Lizard Ridge: 1900 m (6,245 ft.)

Trail: steep, braided trail; loose rock near ridge; forest and slide path

Maps: 82G/6 Elko; 82G/11 Fernie (NAD27)

0 km: Start at the trailhead for the Island Lake Old Growth Trail, 1140 m (3,740 ft.) You may also continue on the pleasant Island Lake Old Growth Trail that winds up to the resort.

600 m: Junction with the Cabin Ridge trail, N84300-E33000. Turn left and down toward the creek.

1.7 km: Unbridged creek crossing. Climb up through the majestic old-growth cedar and fir forest beside an avalanche slope. After about 180 m (600 ft.) the forest thins and is mostly fir and spruce. About halfway up to the cabin the trail leaves the forest with a (sharp) left turn and ascends the remaining elevation on the avalanche slope. In the alpine, the trail ascends a talus slope. The trail is indistinct in places.

3.8 km: Thunder Meadows Hut, N82262-E32356, at 1900 m (6,245 ft.). The hut is at the top and to the left of the avalanche slope, tucked below the ridge in a rocky gully.


Road: any vehicle

Take Highway 3 for 2 km south of the south Elk River bridge in Fernie. Turn west off the highway at the sign for Island Lake Resort and Mount Fernie Provincial Park. (The junction is north of the Fernie Alpine Resort turnoff.)

0 km: Turn off Highway 3 west on paved road into the provincial park. Road continues past the park on good gravel.

5.9 km: Follow Island Lake Resort Road to the signed parking lot for Old Growth Trail and Cabin Ridge.

Hike Map
Janice Strong

Janice Strong

Janice Strong is an established professional outdoor photographer. Her images grace collections all over the world and appear in many respected publications. She is passionate about hiking and is also an avid snowshoer and skier, exploring the outdoors of the East Kootenay in southeastern BC year round.

She openly shares her passion for the outdoors with others and has introduced hundreds of people to the joys of hiking. For a decade she led hikes for the City of Cranbrook – Parks and Recreation. With her guidance, many people have themselves become enthusiastic hikers.

Climbing mountains, finding new places and enjoying the experience of the journey have always been important to Janice. She cherishes the little things she sees along the trail, as well as the grand destinations.

When Janice is not writing, hiking or taking photographs, she is involved in various creative digital, website design or photographic projects for her clients. She and her husband, Jamie Levine, enjoy their rural property, near Cranbrook, BC.

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