What we do >
Finished in 2003, Heiko’s Trail was built by one of Fernie’s renowned residents, Heiko Socher, who was integral to the development of Fernie Alpine Resort. The trail used to be called the Mountain Lakes Trail until it was officially renamed Heiko’s Trail in 2017 after Heiko’s passing. Heiko’s Trail is a 8-11 hour, 20km, very difficult hike with 1200m of elevation gain over two mountain passes. It can be completed as a long day trip, although many choose to do it as an overnight trip (this makes it more viable to link with a Three-Sisters summit side-trip).
The goal of the AmbassadorWILD team for Heiko’s Trail is to support the work of the Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) to enhance and protect Heiko’s Trail by better understanding its users and to educate the public about wildlife interaction best practices, considering the area is one of the most significant regions for transboundary wildlife populations in North America. To support the increase in usage, the AmbassadorWILD team helped expand and improve the designated campground in the summer of 2023 in partnership with the FTA. The AmbassadorWILD team has also partnered with Clayton Lamb, a bear biologist, to operate a pilot program that seeks to assess the impact of recreational usage of Heiko’s Trail on wildlife. As part of this project, the team has supported the installation of wildlife cameras along the trail and surrounding area, checks on them regularly, replaces batteries, and retrieves their data.
During the summer months, the AmbassadorWILD team visits Heiko’s Trail twice/week to perform light duty maintenance. This includes picking up/packing out garbage, cleaning the trailhead outhouse, and dismantling firepits. In addition to the maintenance work, the team collects observational data and reports on it to better inform decision making. This includes tracking parking issues, user behaviour, garbage issues, impacts and needs related to the infrastructure, and collecting trail counter data. Lastly, the team also surveys users to gather information on user demographics, place of residence, and feedback about their experience, in addition to engaging with them to promote safe and ethical outdoor practices.