Coal Creek Heritage Trail

I have to admit I had not biked or hiked the Coal Creek Heritage Trail since it was refurbished in 2013 and was happy to find it now boasts 12 new interpretive signs, a couple of new bridges to bypass swampy areas and sulphuric mine portal discharges and new directional signage for orientation. You can start either at the Aquatic Centre or at the Rifle Range, or do it in reverse, and start at the old Townsite. There is an excellent map of the trail at the Aquatic Centre kiosk and at the Rifle Range and the Townsite Trailhead, so I will not elaborate on directions. In my opinion, the prettiest and most interesting part, start at the Rifle Range, and follow the trail upsteam to the Old Townsite. If you do the whole loop, the trail 15.5 km in length. Starting at the Rifle Range this section is 6.1km long. The gradient is gentle with a couple of steeper switchbacks, and 200 meters in total elevation gain. I invite you to bike it or hike it and play this little trivia game with me. All the answers are on the interpretive signs. Starting at the Aquatic Centre:

  • Although coal allowed Fernie to be born, what allowed it to flourish?
  • How many coke ovens were built?
  • In the oven, the coal was cooked to make what?
  • When was the first mine disaster?
  • What was the meaning of the shrill whistle?
  • To what temperature were the coke ovens brought up to?
  • Who discovered the ammonite, and in what year?
  • Why was the road built so high off the valley floor?
  • What inspired the lizard creek name?
  • What iconic design is on the last interpretive sign?

Now, I bet you tried my little quiz without doing the bike/hike. However you are not so sure you got it all right. It is going to gnaw at you, so you still have to go and bike/hike it because I am not going to give you the answers, and going on line is cheating... With the fall colours starting, I found it not only historically enlightening but also quite esthetically pleasing, good for the mind, good for the soul and good for the body. Actually, as we got closer to the old town site, we noticed clusters of large sized aspens with distinctive bear claws and we had a ball with the camera. Then it went from historical to hysterical when we noticed the pair of long johns at the top of the bear claws on one tree. I can’t wait to take my next batch of company, and it may not be historically accurate but I will have a story on that one for them. When you hike or bike in Fernie, it is always an adventure.