Queen Mine Route

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.84620°N / 118.3513°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike (with mild scrambling on upper slopes)
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Walk-up
Sign the Climber's Log


The major highway, near the start of the climb, is U.S. 6, which runs in an east/west direction (I say "major," however, it is a very nice, and straight, 2-lane highway). The closest town, to the start of the climb, is Benton, California, which is located approximately 15 miles from the trailhead.

If coming from the west, gain U.S. Hwy. 6 either by coming north from Bishop, California (on Hwy. 6), or via Hwy. 120, which diverges from U.S. Hwy. 395 near Lee Vining, California (Hwy. 120 ends at U.S. Hwy. 6 in the middle of Benton, California).

From Benton, California, drive approximately 9 miles east on U.S. Hwy. 6, of which you will cross the California/Nevada state line. At approximately the 9 mile mark, look for a well-established dirt road turning perpendicular to the right/south; the road turns right/south directly across from the now-abandoned "Janie's Ranch," which has an old fuel tank sitting near the road with the initials "JR" painted on it.

If you are coming from the east, you would either already be on U.S. Hwy. 6 (coming from near the Tonopah, Nevada area), or if coming from the north, would attain U.S. Hwy. 6 at either the U.S. 95/U.S. 6 junction (Coaldale Junction) or the alternate U.S. 6/Hwy. 360 junction.

Once you have turned right/south (or left/south, if coming from the east) off of U.S. Hwy. 6, set your odometer because you will need to watch it rather closely. You want to travel a distance of approximately 6.2 miles along the main dirt road; I say "main" dirt road because there are some side roads off of the main dirt road, which you do not want to take. Following, and recognizing, the main dirt road is not a real problem, however.

Along the 6.2 mile stretch of dirt road, you will notice that there are several "natural speed bumps" that you must drive over. The natural speed bumps I am referring to are nothing more than large dirt humps in the road. I had no problem whatsoever driving my 2-wheel drive pick-up truck over them, and would highly doubt that a regular passenger car would either.

In addition, you will notice that the vegetation tends to close in on you once you have driven quite a distance along the dirt road. Don't let this worry you; it does not reach the point where your vehicle will become engulfed in the foliage.

Once you have traveled along the main dirt road for about 3-4 miles or so, the road will start to climb rather steeply. Again, I had no trouble in a 2-wheel drive pick-up. At this point, you are getting fairly close to the trailhead, and can actually see it from here.

Continue along the dirt road to a large, flat area (+/- 9,200' above sea level). You will recognize this flat area because there will be an abandoned mine entrance (Queen Mine) on the east side of the flat area (on your left as you are driving up). Also, there are old rail tracks coming out of the mine, which will help you further recognize that this is the place you want to be. When I was there, there were a lot of steel stakes, with wire mesh around them, sticking out of the ground on the west side of the large, flat area (on your right, as you're coming up). What they are for, I have no clue; didn't take the time to examine them either, since I was in a hurry to get up the mountain.

Nevertheless, this large, flat area is where you'll want to park (unless you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle). If you have a 4-wheel drive, you could probably continue along the dirt road to the saddle, some 500 feet above (+/- 9,700' above sea level). However, the dirt road becomes much more rocky and steeper past the large, flat area. I tried to drive further in my 2-wheel drive pick-up, but could not make it due to the steepness of the grade. So, whether you decide to park at the large, flat area (Queen Mine entrance), or decide to 4-wheel it to the saddle above, the driving approach will end here (if you 4-wheel it, just eliminate the road walking, which I describe at the beginning of the route description below).

Route Description

The route, for most people, will start at the large, flat area (Queen Mine), which I mention above and where most of you will want to park your vehicle. Therefore, you will have a little bit of "dirt road" walking to do (approximately 1-1.25 miles of it).

Leave your vehicle and start hiking up the dirt road. Right after you have started, you will pass two, open mine entrance shafts on the left/south side of the road. I am no authority, but I do not condone the exploration of such mine entrances, simply for the fact of safety and not knowing the level of danger involved with performing such activities. If you decide to explore the shafts, you do so at your own risk.

The dirt road zig-zags a few times, over the course of a mile or so, then ends at a large saddle, which is where the "real" trail starts. Look for a faint use-trail on the south side of the saddle, and start hiking up it. You may actually notice more than one use-trail in the vicinity, however, a "main" trail should be fairly obvious (don't worry that you're not on the correct path, most of them should take you in the general direction you want to go anyway, which is UP).

You continue to climb the head of the ridge, which is rather steep in spots until you gain the top and start to level out (a little under +/- 11,000' above sea level). From this point, you get your first grand view of the Boundary Peak massif. I'm here to tell you as well; it is a rather intimidating sight! You will now follow a fairly well-established use-trail for the length of the ridge, heading pretty much level and in a southwesterly direction. Your travel along this ridge will be just below the crest, which is above you and to the right/north; and you will be high above Trail Canyon, which is to your left/south. The next destination you are trying to reach is called "Trail Canyon Saddle," and is visible in front of you (it is the large saddle between the end of the ridge you're now on and the intimidating wall of rock that you will soon be climbing!).

Once you have made it along the semi-level ridge to the Trail Canyon Saddle, take a break at the jumble of rocks/stumps that is located in the middle of the saddle (trust me, if you're in the right place, you cannot miss the jumble of rocks/stumps; they're the only ones around and are located pretty much right in the middle of the grassy area).

It is at this location that the Queen Mine Route joins with the normal Trail Canyon Route and becomes one and the same. Although, I will continue to give my account of how the route continues from here as well.

From the Trail Canyon Saddle, head south and start climbing the loose rock/scree slope, which seems as though it is "straight-up." While climbing this slope, you can periodically look upward and see the top of a peak above you. I'll go ahead and say it right now; even though, at this point, you may very much wish/hope that the peak above you is the top of Boundary Peak, It is definitely not the top of Boundary Peak! You have a lot of scrambling to do before you reach the very top, and what you see above you, at this point, could probably only pass as the "half-way mark" of the scrambling.

I have seen other data that suggested to climb the slope to the top of the satellite peak that you can see above you. However, I do not suggest this. After you have ascended a couple hundred feet or so, look to your right and you'll notice a smaller horn, with a small saddle, on the ridge to your right/west. Better than climbing to the top of the satellite peak above you, gradually make your way across the scree slope (west) toward the small horn and saddle.

When you have gained the small saddle/horn, you will now have a fine view of what's left to come! The entire north face of Boundary Peak will be displayed before you, and you'll easily be able to see the northeastern ridge, of which you will continue your ascent.

Therefore, leave the small saddle/horn and continue south along the ridge until it starts to climb steeply, and you reach fairly solid third class rock. You will see paths going in several directions from here, but most really go in only two different directions: To either side of the third class rock. On my ascent, I took the left/east side approach, however, when I descended, I came from the right/west side approach. I personally felt that the right/west side was slightly easier (you be your own judge of that).

Nevertheless, your main objective is to continue to climb the small remainder of the ridge, which will end quite shortly at the summit of Boundary Peak. Once you're at the top of the ridge, and it levels off, walk west +/- 100 feet or so, and you will see the summit register box nestled in some rocks. When I was there, someone had placed an American flag next to the register, in remembrance of September 11, 2001.

Further to the south, you will see Montgomery Peak towering some +/- 250 feet above. I have read data that suggests the ridge from Boundary Peak summit to Montgomery Peak summit is +/- 1 mile long and +/- an additional 2-hour scramble. I cannot vouch for this from experience, mainly due to the fact that it was dark when I made the summit of Boundary Peak, and I didn't really have much desire to traverse the ridge to Montgomery Peak in the darkness.

In any event, you have made the summit of Boundary Peak via the Queen Mine Route! To return to your vehicle, simply reverse your steps. Also, as you might imagine, descending the +/- 2,200' of loose rock/scree, from the summit back to Trail Canyon Saddle, will be the hardest part of the descent. Just remember this, however, "it will have been well worth it!!!"

Essential Gear

For starters, make certain you have a good pair of boots to do this climb. I would not suggest wearing tennis shoes! In addition, I highly recommend that you wear gaiters for the entire trip; the amount of loose scree/rock along the route definitely warrants this.

Though a lot of folks either don't know about using them, or don't want to use them, trekking poles (two of them; one for each hand) will make a big difference for you on the descent, regarding balance, knee protection, etc.

Depending on season (e.g., snow conditions), you may/may not need an ice axe and/or crampons. Be certain to check local weather forecasts, and local informational sources on whether or not they may be of need, for when you're planning to go. Same thing goes for cold weather conditions, choose what clothing to take accordingly.

I would highly doubt that a rope would be needed, especially in the summer-type season (June thru October). Even in winter conditions, ice axe and crampons are probably all that would be needed, however, it probably wouldn't hurt to have a rope in your pack, just in case.

Finally, always carry the recommended "10 essentials" with you, no matter where you go!


Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-16 of 16
Bob Burd

Bob Burd - Jul 17, 2002 6:38 am - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

I enjoyed your description, but couldn't find two key pieces of info:

How many miles from the trailhead to the summit?

How many total feet of elevation gain?


dshoe - Aug 11, 2002 10:14 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

From the Queen Canyon Mine entrance to the summit, via the Queen Canyon Mine route, it is approximately 4.5 miles; therefore, a round trip distance for the route would be in the neighborhood of about 9 miles. Knock off about 2 miles if you're able to drive all the way up to the saddle (would need a good 4-wheel drive vehicle).

Total elevation gain can be derived from the route description I provided..........................the summit is right at 13,140 feet; Queen Canyon Mine entrance is right at 9,200 feet. Therefore, the total elevation gain for the route is approximately 4,000 feet. Again, if you're able to drive all the way up to the saddle, knock off 500 feet of elevation gain (+/- 3,500 feet).

Hope this helps...............................happy climbing!


barneyzang - Oct 7, 2006 5:28 am - Hasn't voted

GPS Track Log

A Google Earth track log can be found here. Contains track for turnoff from highway six to trailhead.


Alpinist - Aug 20, 2007 9:56 am - Voted 10/10

Dirt road

Note: There is another water tank on the left and dirt road on the right 6 miles from Benton. We drove in at night and upon seeing the tank just opposite of this road, we mistakenly turned off Hwy 6 too soon. There is a wire gate that does not state to Keep Out, as you might expect on a private road. Do not be confused by this road. Mark your odometer and be sure to take the correct road 9 miles from Benton, as stated in the route description. We took the wrong road for about 2 miles and were miffed at how rough it was. Queen Canyon Mine Road is quite gentle comparatively speaking.


Alpinist - Oct 1, 2007 11:17 am - Voted 10/10

Correction: Queen Mine

The first sentence under Route description states, "The route, for most people, will start at the large, flat area (Queen Canyon Mine)...." Note that the mine in the flat area (by the campsite) is called Queen Mine, not Queen Canyon Mine, as correctly stated in the previous section. Queen Canyon Mine is a different mine further to the west. It's not actually on the route at all.


JohnMcPike - Mar 12, 2008 3:01 pm - Hasn't voted

The road

I posted a few pictures to give folks a better idea of the road to the mine & the saddle. Hope they help in deciding ones route

dacca55 - May 14, 2009 8:31 pm - Hasn't voted

4WD + trail conditions

My '92 Toyota 4-Runner made it to the 9700' saddle with ease 5/09/09. Full moon. Trail from there is great. Hiked by moonlight only, save < 2 minutes flashlight time. Rnd trip 6 hours. Minimal snow. No other idiots on trail. Dark.


Moogie737 - Jun 29, 2010 3:36 pm - Hasn't voted

Elevation info

Just for comparison purposes, my Garmin GPS showed the Queen Mine TH about 9,050' and the actual TH at 9,840'. No big deal, but don't be worried when elevations differ slightly. Also, the huge cairn at the "real" TH was still there as of 6-25-10.

rb1960 - Sep 11, 2018 1:16 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Elevation info

My GPS readings were similar to yours.

mvirdone - Jul 20, 2012 9:04 pm - Hasn't voted

Impassable in 2WD Car

Overall the road was easy to find (especially after using street view to preview what the tank at the turn looks like). Unfortunately we got turned back at roughly 7600 feet because the road was too rough for our car (rental car prius). It gets to be its worst after the vegetation starts to close in around you. We didn't try to scout farther up the road on foot. A higher ground clearance 2WD _might_ make it (or if you don't care about scraping the bottom), but I don't know if it gets worse later on. We were too scared of getting stuck, plus we didn't know what expensive stuff is under the hybrid ready to be ripped off by a wayward rock. I had gotten my hopes up after reading a bunch of trip reports where they made it to the trailhead in cars, but I'm only now realizing that those reports are a few years old (2009 at the earliest), so keep that in mind.

KathyW - Sep 3, 2012 9:02 pm - Hasn't voted

Road Conditions

Drove the road on 9/2/12. The road from Hwy 6 to the Queen Mine has deteriorated a little over the last few years and would be more difficult with a low-clearance passenger car, but could be done with very careful and slow driving (someone made it in a fairly low clearance vehicle while I was out there but I wouldn't have wanted to be driving that vehicle). The road from Queen Mine to Kennedy Saddle (Also known as Queen Mine Saddle) is in better shape than it was a few years ago when I last drove it and easy to drive in a stock Toyota Tacoma with 4WD. It might be do-able with high-clearance 2WD except that one tight turn might create a bit of a problem trying to get going again or backing up to negotiate the turn. So, if you have a truck with 4WD keep on driving up to the saddle and save yourself the extra walking.


brichardsson - Aug 13, 2013 3:55 pm - Hasn't voted

road conditions

drove the road on 8/10/13. the lower end (the part to queen mine) is in pretty good shape; in fact, someone in our party made it to the mine in a toyota camry! the road beyond that was very loose scree, and a two wheel drive high clearance toyota truck could not maintain traction on the road and eventually had to go back down.

oldslab - Jun 2, 2014 9:48 pm - Hasn't voted

Road from Queen Mine to Kennedy Saddle

We drove all the way up to the saddle in our 1995 Plymouth Voyager Soccer Mom Van. It was a great place to camp and cut off a couple of miles of road scree. Gotta just go for it in a couple of places and I would't take a nice car I cared about up there.

becky - Jul 7, 2014 3:13 pm - Hasn't voted

boundary and montgomery

queen canyon was good, only one little section (a pothole) was rutted out but other people had put rocks into it to make it passable. we made it to the top to the trail register with ease. weather was perfect and lots of cloud coverage to make this walk very pleasant! lots of wildlife too:)

SugrBear - Aug 7, 2016 9:01 pm - Hasn't voted

Road to Kennedy Saddle

Nice route description. Staying to the west side of the ridge in the class 3 scramble sections worked very well. Road to the mine was easy to find. No way I'd want to try to drive a passenger car all the way to the mine. Very rutted. Saw one passenger car that made it about 2/3 of the way to the Queen Mine. We took our 4 wheel drive Pilot to the mine very cautiously without much problem then went for it to the Kennedy Saddle and were successful. Definitely needed the 4 wheel traction especially at the hairpin turn. Would not do it in a two wheel drive high clearance vehicle and would not go above the mine in my Pilot if I had to do it again. Made it safe but it took my son getting out to guide us through the hairy spots on the way down. Saw a nice high clearance 4x4 pickup at the saddle which I'm sure made it without a problem. Saw a Jeep Renegade, another pickup and an all wheel drive Subaru parked down towards the mine. They probably made the prudent choice.


HikingMan - Nov 2, 2018 5:19 pm - Hasn't voted

Great Post

I very much appreciate the effort you put into your post. I am planning a summit on DEC 13, 2018. Looking forward to it. Thanks again for teh great post.

Viewing: 1-16 of 16



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.