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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.