White Queen – Via Hummingbird Pass

A brand new hiking trail up to White Queen’s Summit! Follow a historic mining road through Hummingbird Pass to access the “Bird Queen Trail” which traces the ridge line to the summit. Beautiful views of Ymir Peak and the surrounding mountains can be found along the way, but be sure to come in the fall for the golden larches at the top!

Summary
Trailhead: Whitewater Ski Hill Road
Distance, round trip: 10.2km
Elevation: +691m
Difficulty:  Moderate
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Trailhead and Driving Directions

Drive 6.9km up Whitewater Ski Hill Road to park at Hummingbird Pass (before the main ski resort area). The road will widen with a large pull-out on the left for parking.

Hike down the road to come to the winter kiosk. The Bird Queen trail mainly follows the winter backcountry touring route to White Queen – a summer kiosk will be installed at a later date!

Starting down the road

Background

The Bird Queen Trail is a brand new hiking trail being built in 2019-2020 by the Kootenay Mountaineering Club. Phase 1 of the trail goes up to the summit of White Queen. Phase 2 will connect a loop over Mount Beattie and is still pending approval from BC Parks.

The Bird Queen Trail mainly follows the White Queen Snowshoe route. The trail name comes from the connection between Humming Bird Pass to White Queen!

Up the Humming Bird Mine Road

From the parking spot, walk down the road, past the winter kiosk, across the bridge, and continue on until you reach the gravel pit at the end of the road. Walk around the gravel pit. You now have two options:

  1. Continue walking up the road on the long switchback.
  2. Look for a faint trail on the left that cuts off the switchback. The trail is steep in a few places, but will join back up on the road at a higher place.

Once you’ve rejoined the road, continue walking along, ascending in a short switchback and then angling above Hummingbird Pass. The road fades away and a trail begins, contouring above the pass and then curving North-East.

At 2.5km, the trail nears the tailing piles from the old Hummingbird Mine. Before you cross a creek, look for the Bird Queen Trail on the right, heading up the ridge!

Heading up the new trail

Up the Bird Queen Trail

The trail heads up the ridge in a series of switchbacks. Soon views will appear through the trees, looking South-West back down the valley with the Whitewater Road far below.

Along the new trail

As the trail climbs higher, look North to see the forested summit of Mount Beattie through the trees. Beyond Beattie, spot the distant slopes of Mount Grohman and the further spikes of the Valhallas.

View towards forested Mount Beattie

There are a couple ‘false summits’ along the ridge where the trail unexpectedly dips down before gaining elevation. The climb is steady, the new trail managing the grade very well as it weaves between trees and rock outcrops.

As you near the top, the larches become more profuse. Look for cairns and rock path borders in places where the trail fades among the rocks. Eventually, you’ll come to a wide grassy mound with the radio tower in the distance – the top of White Queen! Follow the rock path to the summit. It takes just over 2 hours to reach the summit, depending on pace.

Final walkway to White Queen Summit

The top of White Queen

The summit of White Queen

The summit affords a white view of Ymir Peak with the overlapping blue of distance mountains fading away to the South. In early June, the summit is covered in Yellow Glacier Lillies and anemones. In late September, the larches blaze gold.

A panorama of peaks and landmarks surrounds you. Look for Kokanee Glacier, Mount Grohman, and the Valhallas to the North. Spot the Bonnington Range peaks of Toad, Red, Copper, Siwash, Emperor, Commonwealth, Dominion, and Territory mountains to the West. Ymir Peak dominates to the East with the Emna and Embla peaks along the near ridge to the North-East.

Summit cairn on White Queen

Options to Head Home

When it’s time to head home, you have a few options:

  1. Retrace your steps back down the Bird Queen trail to Hummingbird Pass.
  2. Continue on the ridge East towards Ymir Peak and descend via the White Queen – Via Silverking Ridge route to make a loop past the Whitewater Ski Resort.
  3. The future Phase 2 trail to circle down to Mount Beattie! Let’s hope the approval from BC Parks comes quickly!
Hiking back down the Bird Queen Trail, Evening Ridge in the background
Final stretch of trail back down the valley
Trail Angels

The Kootenay Mountaineering Club

This trail is maintained by the Kootenay Mountaineering Club. If you’ve enjoyed the hike, consider becoming a member and volunteering with the club.

Vision & planning – Kootenay Mountaineering Club
Additional help – Castlegar Parks & Trails Society, BC Wildfire Service, Whitewater Ski Resort
Funding – Columbia Basin Trust, RDCK, Kootenay Mountaineering Club, Pulpit Rock Society
Trail builders – Sara Muenier & crew

Summit of White Queen in the fall. Photo credit: Chris Cowan
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[…] can either retrace your steps back down, or follow the new Bird Queen Trail to make a big loop around White […]