Grab a bike and pedal the trails of Crowsnest Pass


A ZenSeekers' road trip isn't complete unless the destinations include outdoor adventures, and culinary, learning and cultural experiences. During summer 2018, create your #BucketlistAB itinerary in Southern Alberta and come and stay a night and see a sight.

Matthew Bailey

With our rental e-bikes loaded in the back of our truck, we drove down Highway 3 and past the famous Burmis tree to try out the fairly new Crowsnest Community Trail, a 23-km, non-motorized route connecting the communities of Crowsnest Pass.

Prior to 1979, no one would have imagined the mining communities of Crowsnest Pass to be linked together by a single trail. After all, despite the close proximity, these towns did not like to mix. While attending Bellecrest Days, local resident and school teacher Ian Crawford said, "Just trying to date a girl from another town back then could get you beat up. They didn't want one of the other towns stealing their women."

Watch A #BucketlistAB Look at CrowsNest Pass Alberta on YouTube.

Well, times have certainly changed and the towns of Bellevue, Blairmore, Coleman, Hillcrest, and Frank are now connected by a walkable and bikeable trail, surrounded by mind-blowing scenery. That scenery can be taken in via the interpretive trail that connects all five towns, or head up to the Pass PowderKeg Ski Hill for some world class views and bike/hike trails to boot.

Photo: Dan Batchelor

Whether you arrive by car, bike, or foot, a visit to the Old Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe is a must.

For our visit, we rented e-bikes from Pass Powderkeg at the Community Pool. For those who want to go faster or just have less effort, these are a great option. First on our list was the Bellevue Mine Tour, a fitting start to an area known for coal mining. After strapping on our hard hats and getting a brief safety instruction, we entered the cold, dark mine and proceeded down the main shaft. While the overall mine is wildly massive, only the first 300 metres is reinforced and safe for tourists. We learned about the life of the miners and how coal was found and brought back to the surface. We also learned of the terrible working conditions and the large number of deaths that occurred not only in this mine but in the other nearby mines too. The Hillcrest Mine was home to the worst coal mining disaster in Canada's history in 1914, claiming more than 189 lives from a town that only had 1,000 people. There's no doubt how dangerous this line of work is and I'm thankful I'm just here to visit.

Crowsnest Pass
Photo: Matthew Bailey

One of the most popular things to do in the area is to go on a Bellevue Underground Mine Tour, a glimpse into the town’s past.

After spending time in darkness, we came back into the light and continued biking into the wild-west looking town of Bellevue and to the famous Old Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe. Located close to the mine, the ice cream shop serves up a variety of tasty ice creams in homemade waffle cones. There's also sundaes and milkshakes, but I opted for a scoop of the new Cinnamon Twist ice cream, although the chocolate espresso was also very tempting. Once the ice cream was off the cone and in our bellies, we got back on the bikes and made our way to the town of Frank, home to Canada's deadliest landslide.

Crowsnest Pass
Photo: Dan Batchelor

Just one of the many delicious treats available at The Old Dairy Ice Cream Shoppe.

Words can hardly describe the remnants of more than 90 million tons of limestone rock that slid down Turtle Mountain back in 1903. Within just 100 seconds, roughly 90 people were killed as the town of Frank was changed forever. After biking through part of the rubble, we went up to the interpretive centre to look out at Turtle Mountain and the vast area that is now covered in rock. It's truly mesmerizing and shocking to see how far the landslide travelled.

With the day winding down, we continued to the towns of Hillcrest, Blairmore, and Coleman, where we stopped by the train tracks to see the old Coke Ovens, another historic icon of the past.

Crowsnest Pass
Photo: Dan Batchelor

Take a stroll around Frank’s Slide where Canada’s deadliest landslide occurred. 

It was now nearing dinner time and having heard about their delicious half-pound burgers, we ended our day at the Rum Runner Restaurant and Pub, which is named after the rum runners that caused chaos around these parts back in the days of prohibition. Topped with a variety of fixings, including fried onion rings and jalapenos, this was just what we needed to cap off the day.

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