White Queen is a scenic off-trail hike just outside of Nelson, BC. Starting at Whitewater Ski Resort, the route crosses familiar ski terrain before ascending to a stunning ridge-line ramble with big views of Ymir Peak and surrounding country. At the summit of White Queen, you can see Kokanee and the Valhallas, and many distant mountains fading to overlapping shades of blue.
Trailhead: Whitewater Ski Resort, Whitewater Road
Distance, round trip: 9.4km
Drive the short 20 minutes out of Nelson to Whitewater Ski Resort. This is a well-maintained road, accessible to all vehicles.
Up the ski trails
Starting at Whitewater Ski Resort, ascend the ‘Lower Sluice Box’ run where a faint summer trail rises towards Ymir Peak.
The trail will wind through meadows, fading in and out, until it intersects with a gravel road. At this road, turning right will take you to the off-trail route to Ymir Peak .
To continue to White Queen, follow the gravel road as it switch-backs up and over the ski runs until the road nears the top of the Silver King ski lift.
Switching up the backcountry route
As you approach the Silver King ski lift, the backcountry ski route appears on the right as a wide opening that climbs up through the forest with fragments of boot-beaten path.
You need to follow this route up to the top of the ridge as it switchbacks higher. The stepping is tricky with angled slopes and many rocky sections.
Along the ridge
At last, the route switchbacks up to the top of the ridge! On the other side is the Five Mile drainage – a popular backcountry skiing area.
Heading north-west along the ridge, you’ll climb higher to a small ‘bump’ where you can look ahead to see the route to White Queen’s summit in the distance:
Most of this route is pretty straight forward as there is a wide, cleared area along the ridge top. However, as you near White Queen, the route becomes a bit of a bushwhack through the forest.
White Queen Summit
We reached White Queen’s summit after 2 hours of hiking. In late June, the top was still capped with snow and we were unable to find the summit cairn, but we enjoyed the panoramic views of the ski resort below!
We could see the Kokanee Range and distant Valhallas, as well as Toad Mountain and the Bonnington Range peaks. Ymir Peak overpowered the view to the east.
We followed the same route back, sliding along the old snow on the ridge. Within 1.5 hours we were back at the car.
Snowshoeing White Queen
This route is a great snowshoe trip in November and April with winter-wonderland views and no avalanche exposure. However, once Whitewater Ski Resort starts their operating system, this route will no longer be accessible via the ski runs.