At the tail end of summer we hiked to Lille, a ghost town located in Crowsnest Pass, which is located in Southern Alberta. The town was originally incorporated in February 1904 as a purpose-built coal mining community, and eventually grew to about 400 people. The mines in Lille closed in 1912, due to collapsing coal prices, increased production costs, and the very poor quality of the coal. The town withered away until its last person left in 1916, and the town was finally dissolved in 1919. All that remains today is the Bernard-style coke ovens that were imported from Belgium, the foundations of the Lille Hotel, and a huge pile of coal slack near the ovens. On the Bernard-style coke ovens you’ll notice a bunch of numbers, which were used to reassemble the ovens after they were transported from Belgium.
There are two options to complete this hike. If you have a low clearance car it’s suggested to hike the 15 kilometre return trip from the Frank Slide Interpretive center, however if you have a higher clearance vehicle, or are crazy like I am, then you can drive down a very bumpy unmaintained logging road to get to a grassy area, which turns the hike into a more manageable 6.3 kilometre hike. I drive a Toyota Prius, and have a lot of experience navigating high clearance roads, so I don’t recommend this in a low clearance vehicle unless you trust your skillset. Be prepared to take 20-30 minutes to drive those 9 kilometres. Overall, the hike is fairly easy, and can be completed by most people, including children.