Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country – Hiking Alberta

 

Fragments of Ings Mine remain along Canyon Creek in Kananaskis Elbow Valley.

 

 

Highway 22x/66 west, on this day, is an unusually beautiful drive with early morning frost on the trees on the approach past Bragg Creek into Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaIngs Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Dr. George Ings prospected in Canyon Creek Valley, below the base of Moose Mountain, near Bragg Creek in the late 1890's.  George Ings Mine (aka Canyon Creek Mines) supplied more than 1,000 tons of coal to Bragg Creek's Mowbray-Berkeley oil well during the First World War (1914-1918).

Ings Mine evidence occurs in more than one location.  One installation is about 8 KM (5 miles) in from Hwy. 66, alongside Canyon Creek beyond and below the Moose Ridge Ice Caves.  There are old foundations at this Canyon Creek location and it is an interesting hike when combined with exploration of the Ice Caves.  Hiking sandals for water are a good idea in addition to the full kit required for cave exploration.

The gorgeous, sunny day is perfect for hiking at 10 degrees C.  No flies.  Today's mission is to locate and explore Ings Mine near the intersection of Hwy. 66 and Canyon Creek Road, combined with a clockwise, 10 KM (6.25 mile) loop hike east on Sulphur Springs Trail and a return west on the Elbow Valley Trail

From the end of the Canyon Creek parking area, closest to the highway, trail will cross the creek-bed and ascend a short series of switchbacks to a spur which passes an open mining shaft begging for exploration.  The old trial shaft is short but lamps are necessary for exploration.

 

Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaIngs Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaIngs Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, CanadaIngs Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Following the brief investigation of the old coal mining shaft, off-trail scouting misses the location of the old processing facility and the hike continues on the Sulphur Springs Trail for the planned loop hike.  There are excellent views of snow-bound Nihahi Ridge and Prairie Mountain from the west end of Sulphur Springs Trail.

 

Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The 10 KM (6¼ mile) loop hike is up and down hills.  South-facing trail exposed to sun is dry.  Sheltered and north-side trails are a combination of ice and/or mud.  The trail passes up and over Moose Ridge primarily in forest with occasional, spectacular vistas from grassy meadows.  

Following the end of the loop around the Sulphur Springs Trail and Elbow Valley Trail, another attempt begins to find the 100+ year-old Ings Mine processing location. 

The off-trail battle west off-trail over rugged terrain strewn with dead-fall eventually leads to evidence of faint remains for an old access road.   The barely detectable old road leads into a gully where an ancient coal slag heap is buried under a grassy mound but still faintly evident.  Little evidence remains of the old coal processing plant other than bits of scrap metal and old planks.

 

Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

After searching around the steep gorge for awhile, the climb out leads to an intersection with the original switchbacks leading back to the Canyon Creek parking area.  Occasionally the hike proceeds over black trail made of coal.

 

Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Ings Mine – Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 

 

 

 

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The Tube is a cave complex with the most accessible of two entrances off the road up Moose Dome Creek. So, you park at the gate off Hwy 66 and walk or cycle 7 KM in on Canyon Creek Road. Just before you reach the gas well site where the old Ice Cave parking previously resided, Moose Creek Road heads off to the right and climbs up and over Moose Ridge. At a high point about 3 1/2 KM along Moose Creek Road the entrance to The Tube is in the cliff face above the road on your left. It will be easier to find and likely more difficult to access in winter. I have been there but have not explored the cave. We decided to do something else instead. Remember, you have a one-way 11 KM hike or bike to get in there before beginning the cave exploration. I would be inclined to do this in the summer. The very shallow coal shaft shown in this post is in an entirely different place. It is near the intersection of Canyon Creek Road and Hwy 66. Exit Hwy 66 onto Canyon Creek Road and park at the end of the parking lot closest to Hwy 66. The biffy is at the far end of the parking lot, close to the gate restricting access to Canyon Creek Road. At the south end of parking, where you are, there will be a trail across Canyon Creek. If there is snow cover, you may need to traverse the other side of Canyon Creek, back and forth, until you link up with the trail which leads up the ridge. It is a short, steep climb and may be iced in winter. In-step crampons could be helpful. The trail branches right near the top of the ridge and the small shaft is at a brief branch below the trail. It should not be difficult to locate. The tiny shaft is short and narrow but there is lots of coal, so prepare to get dirty. Again, I would be inclined to do this in the summer. Good luck. Have fun and stay safe.

Just wondering if you or anyone following or browsIng through your page has ever visited "The Tube".  Are they worth the effort to go explore and search for them?   A buddy and I are planning a trip up there again next weekend to look for those abandoned mine shafts in your pictures.  From the which parking lot do you follow the switchbacks up?  Since 2000 they blocked off the road about 2 kms in from Hwy 66?  And at the old parking lot where the ice caves are is a compressor site?  Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for the update, Matt. Good luck and stay safe.

I am a caver paying special attention to the Canyon creek area... Sadly, there has been a rockfall a few years back that is blocking access to the passage we were suspecting was going to the top. There is currently some work being done to get through the Ice Plug which has been blocking the way to the corkscrew passage since the 80's and hopefully, we will get through and be able to get back to you if the "legend" is true. I would definitely not venture in there without lots of caving experience and a crew who knows what they're doing since most of the passage going through canyon creek Ice cave is a rift passages (very tight crack).

Well, Tom, I appreciate your comment. Your experience exceeds mine. The short answer is 'No, I have not found the opening at the top of Moose Mountain but, to be honest, I have not gone looking for it. The cave reference book I use is 'Caves of the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains' by Jon Rollins. It is an excellent book and it has an extensive map of the Canyon Creek Ice Cave. I have been on top of the mountain many times over many years, in every weather condition imaginable, and I have taken shelter in alcoves on the Canyon Creek side of the ridge. Inside the cave, I have travelled through every squeeze I could find and fit into. The July 1968 and July 1970 Brunton and Tate Survey shows the Corkscrew Climb. Access to it has been blocked by the ice plug since 1980. There is a lot of known cave that is simply inaccessible. I have not been able to determine if the Corkscrew Climb continues to the surface of Moose Mountain Ridge. On the other side of the ridge, by access on the road up Moose Dome Creek, there is a wilderness cave called 'The Tube'. There is reference to the possibility this cave may penetrate to the surface. I would recommend you contact the Alberta Speleological Society. They are a hardy, adventuresome crew who find and reclaim tunnel far beyond where I personnally would venture. I suspect there is someone in that organization who can answer your question, possibly with specific reference and from personal experience. Good luck. Sorry, I cannot relate a personal experience that would be more helpful to you. If you find it, please share the experience with me.

Hi Barry... I'm wondering if you can help me out...I've hiked the Ing's mine caves for 30 years, been there 100 times, but I've always heard stories of another opening on the top of the mountain. The ice inside the cave on the right hand side has sealed off the opening from the inside, I found a survey map from the 60's and it shows there is a corkscrew tunnel out the top of the mountain. Have you ever been on top or found the opening on the top of the mountain? Thanks, Tom

I found it finally. Thanks Barry! https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/105580744920685069111/albums/6136956010327926769

I was wondering if you know anything about the Old Thorne Mine near the headwaters of Bragg Creek. It was an old mine in operation in the 1800's. I saw it described in the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide but I haven't heard too many stories of people visiting the mine. Just curious if you have any first hand experience! Thanks, and I love your website.

Sorry, Brendan, I have no knowledge of the Old Thorne Mine.  It may be worth your time to ask via contact form at www.kananaskisblog.com.  It is the same source as the experienced and knowledgeable folks who create the Kananaskis Country Trail Guides.  Good luck on your search and thank you for the kind words regarding my journal.

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