The abandoned French Mine near Hedley, BC is an intricate network of tunnels that apparently spans hundreds of kilometers. It is located in the same mountain-side as some other popular mines – Nickle Plate and Mascot. The mine entrances are well known and many explorers check them out on weekends.
There are many preserved relics around the mine entrances including a concentrator, ore shoot, and various staircases up the mountain. A gust of chilly wind greets you from the lower entrance (one indication that the air is quite good in the mine but this may not be the case deeper inside). The upper entrance is the most popular/photogenic as it features a large cavern with many holes.
It is quite easy to get lost in the tunnels as there are many branches and levels. For the dedicated explorer it is possible to navigate (follow the red arrows!) from the upper entrance to the lower.
The tunnels are full of all kinds of discarded mining equipment like barrels, rail, ore shoots, and wires. There are old wooden ladders in various sections and open caverns in others.
Both the lower and upper entrances to French Mine are accessed via Hedley Nickle Plate Rd. Both are very rough and only passible by ATV or serious 4×4 offroaders. Most tend to walk in from either road.
It is also possible to ‘hike’ between the lower and upper portions. To this, follow the path up from beside the lower entrance (above/behind the concentrator) and follow the old wooden staircase. It is quite steep and soon you will reach the ‘middle’ entrance to the French Mines. Walk along the cliff-face to the left and the upper section will be around the corner. This should only be attempted by experienced scramblers as it is quite steep with some points of exposure along the cliff-face. The ‘safe’ option may be to try and find the passage inside the mine between the upper and lower sections (maybe the middle?).