If you are looking for a snowshoeing adventure that takes you a little off the beaten path but clear of avalanche danger then the former Hummingbird Plume fire lookout is a good contender. With the minimal amount of people that do this trail, chances are you will be alone soon after you start and not see anyone else again until you return. Once you reach the end point in the clearing you are surrounded by trees, but venturing just past them you emerge from the forest and see the entire corridor below, north to south. Trail breaking is also not bad as the inclines are not so steep to cause issue.
Former Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout Trip Log
Summarized the route to take is Parking lot to Skogan Pass trail, to Sunburst trail and hang a right to head up to the retired fire lookout. There are two ways to start this trail. One is to head up to the Nakiska Day Lodge and head north along the bottom of the ski slopes and you will come across the 400m trail that leads to Skogan Pass. The second would be to drop down from the parking area to the east and get onto Skogan Pass trail directly there. If the mass of skiers turns you around once at Nakiska then asking someone who works there how to get to Skogan Pass will usually help as it seems most haven't heard of "Hummingbird Plume".
When you come to the first intersection, it should be the intersection of Hidden / Skogan Pass / Ruthie's / Marmot Basin as each direction from this point has a different name. From here head west towards Marmot Basin.
A little over a kilometer later the trail hooks onto a Nakiska service road briefly, keep heading up this and about a 100 meters later it makes a sharp turn to the left. At this point a trail is visible on the right with a small green sign. Head straight through here as it leads to Skogan Pass and ultimately the former Hummingbird Plume fire lookout.
From this point onwards the trail is generally ascending with only a few level spots until you reach the former fire lookout. The trail is fairly wide as it used to be used as a road. The amount of people that head up this way seems to be very minimal as once you take the Marmot turn off the ground becomes immediately softer. Another 1.3km takes you to the next junction.
When you reach the power line that runs up the hill you have made it to the next junction. Beyond this point it looked like no one's been up here at all in the last couple months. To the left, the trail heads to Skogan Pass. This is where we break off and head right onto Sunburst Trail. It's not entirely visible at first so be sure to follow under the power line for about 10-20 meters uphill and you will see a large opening in the trees where you continue onwards.
Sunburst trail has a couple level areas but is generally uphill and the trail is still wide enough to walk side by side with your companion.
Upon reaching a small clearing you have come to the end of Sunburst and a T intersection. Take a right here and you are a mere 500 meters away from the former site of the Hummingbird Plume fire lookout.
The last 500 meters keeps the same width as it used to be a road leading up here and the elevation gain is minimal as well.
Upon reaching the large clearing with a bench on the side you have successfully reached the site of the former fire lookout. Your first though will probably be... "Where's the view?". My speculation is that since it is a clearing there used to be a tower here to see over the trees. It is just a guess as this time of year the ground is completely snow covered so it is hard to tell. The only other remnants are a small shack tucked away in the corner that is believe to be built by German POW's during the Second World War. If you venture through the trees directly across from where you enter you will see an impressive view of the corridor. Caution should be taken as it is a very steep slope.
Return the same way or take a small detour to Troll Falls if time permits as you are only 400 meters away when reaching the first junction.
GPS Plotted Route
Thanks to there being a sign on every intersection you come across, route finding is not very hard as each sign has a clearly labeled map showing you were you are and the trail system around you.
The trail to Hummingbird Plume is generally uphill with only a few level spots but there is no major loss of elevation so it is nearly all downhill on the way back.
Click here to download the GPS route in GPX format. You may have to right click and select "Save Link As" if your browser does not download it automatically. Be sure to save it as a .gpx file.
What were your experiences snowshoeing Former Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout?
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