This double-track trail weaves along dusty coal-powdered paths near the former townsite of Coal Creek to the site of the now-closed Elk River Colliery #9 Mine.
At the site, you can see the old tunnels (blocked by cave-ins) that were driven into the #9 seam and ruins of the ventilation fans, electric hoist and retarding conveyor building that hauled coal out of the mine and to the preparation plant down the mountainside.
Best accessed between May until November. Dogs are also able to use the trail.
Distance: 7 km (return)
Duration: 2hr (return)
Elevation Gain: 395m
Don't forget to pick up a Fernie Trail Map before your hike. TrailForks users can track their progress and location along this hike, if they have GPS on their mobile device, using the Trailforks app, and the No. #9 Mine route.
Mining operations were extensive on both sides of the valley. Over Coal Creek’s 60 years, twelve separate mines were developed: four on this side and eight on the other.
In 1942, Crow’s Nest Pass Coal began developing a new highly mechanized colliery that was to reach production of 4,000 short tons of coal per day. Four mines fed the Elk River Colliery. No. 9 South, directly across the valley, opened in 1943.
Seven years later, in 1950, the mine purchased an underground diesel locomotive—the first to be used in any BC mine. With it, the 109 miners were able to produce 500 short tons of coal per day. No. 9 South closed in January 1958, when the Crow’s Nest Pass Coal Company ceased all operations at the Elk River Colliery, leaving 284 men jobless.
Like today, economics dictated coal production. With demand for oil and gas outpacing coal by the mid-1900s, the company opted to focus its coal operations at Michel (east of Sparwood).
The trailhead is best accessed by car. Drive approximately 6.6km easterly along Coal Creek Road. Along the way, you will cross over a bridge and pass a dirt bike track on your right side. With Coal Creek will on your left, you'll see a wide 4x4 trailhead on your right. This is where the hike begins.
There is a small area beside the creek along Coal Creek Road where a few vehicles can park. Please be aware that there are active logging vehicles operating on this road, so please do so courteously.